The absurd seems to be a common theme in literature, probably becuase it is easily relatable in life. On the surface, most events that occur in life seem to be random and meaningless. No human being on Earth is a stranger to the feelings of emptiness and meaninglessness that life offers when it seems absurd. The absurd is relatable, and illustrating the absurd not only helps the reader laugh, it points out flaws in society and human nature. The plays “Waiting for Godot” and “Twelfth Night” both illustrate the absurd to force the audience to think about a larger point.
I watched the play “Waiting for Godot” last Friday. It was a very unique play, and I do not think that I have seen anything else like it. The existential atheist Albert Camus had inspired the playwright, and his influence was clearly seen in the play. The entire play was a meaningless, frivolous conversation between two men who were “waiting for Godot.” Godot had promised them that they could live in his mansion, but he never arrived to pick them up. The two men were waiting for their life to change, instead of being the change in their own lives. The two men often said to each other throughout the play: “Lets go!” “We can’t” “Why not?” “We are waiting for Godot!” These men were so thoroughly bored with their lives, yet they could not do anything except wait to be saved from themselves.
The play humorously illustrated that man’s quest for meaning in a meaningless world is simply absurd. By “absurd” the playwright did not mean stupid or silly, but “out of place.” The play was designed to make audience realize that making one’s own meaning in a meaningless world is tantamount to saying “lets pretend life has meaning.” Man is forced to look outside himself to be saved from his meaninglessness, but according to the play, there is no salvation. Godot never arrived to pick up the men, and they ended up committing suicide out of despair. Similarly in “Twelfth Night,” Shakespeare also illustrates the absurd to send a message.
In “Twelfth Night” there are plenty of scenes in which the audience probably found themselves chuckling from the visible absurdity. Viola finds herself in love with the Duke, The Duke is hopeless in love with Olivia, and Olivia is in love with Cesario (Viola). This humorous and absurd love triangle illustrates that love is a confusing force that can never be completely rationalized or contained. In addition, the general feeling of confusion the characters have throughout the play point to the conclusion that life is sometimes incomprehensible. Malvolio also finds himself in the center this absurdity when he is duped into thinking that that Olivia is in love with him. He then finds himself smiling awkwardly around her and wearing mismatched socks to please her. However, he ultimately finds himself in a cell for insanity. The humorous nature of his absurd actions illustrates that even the most reasonable people can find themselves face to face with the ridiculous.
In conclusion, both “Waiting for Godot” and “Twelfth Night” illustrate absurdity to send a message. The message of “Waiting for Godot” is that trying to find meaning in a meaningless life is absurd. The message of “Twelfth Night” is that love is a complicated, and sometimes an absurd element in life.