The Theatre of the Absurd and the Tragic

K. M. Newton

in Modern Literature and the Tragic

Published by Edinburgh University Press

Published in print June 2008 | ISBN: 9780748636730
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780748652082 | DOI:
The Theatre of the Absurd and the Tragic

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This chapter reviews the relation between the ‘Theatre of the Absurd’ and the tragic and argues that though Samuel Beckett's drama can't be pinned down as being either tragic or anti-tragic, Harold Pinter's The Caretaker has a strong claim to be a major modern tragedy. Beckett is without doubt the major figure associated with the ‘Theatre of the Absurd’. Waiting for Godot might be said to go beyond the tragic, at least in any conventional sense, and to deny the audience anything resembling catastrophe or catharsis as that would provide an inauthentic emotional consolation. It is possible that Pinter in The Caretaker is presenting a kind of counter-argument to the view that human beings are always free to overcome their past selves and create themselves anew.

Keywords: tragic; Theatre of the Absurd; Samuel Beckett; Harold Pinter; The Caretaker; Waiting for Godot

Chapter.  7093 words. 

Subjects: Literary Theory and Cultural Studies

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