Influences on Theatre of the Absurd Big feet, stampeding
rhinoceroses, and barren sets are typical of the theatre of the absurd. The
dramatic content, symbolism, and spectacles are an amazing thing to see and an
impossibility to comprehend. The philosophy of the absurd and the dawn of
mankind influenced these plays in the twentieth century. The main proponents and
works of the theater of the absurd and philosophy were influenced by the chaotic
actions of the early and mid-twentieth century. These chaotic actions led them
to search for something in literature and drama never seen before. A brief
survey of the main proponents and works of the absurd philosophy and theater can
lead one to an understanding of this epoch of absurdity. The early to
mid-twentieth century has been marked by chaos. The four main events or notions
that inspired the absurd writers of this time are World War I, World War II,
liberalism, and epidemics. The two world wars had a devastating influence on

Europe's landscape and people. The two world wars knocked down everyone's
fundamental belief about society. The breakdown of values led to Freud's
development of psychoanalysis. Freud, basically, liberalized society with his
new perceptions and thoughts on the human mind. He introduced a liberal ideal
that brought homosexuality out into the open in Europe. Slowly, people went
public about their homosexuality; society also learned to adapt and accept such
liberal ideas as the new standard norm for a post-war Europe. Another problem
that plagued Europe was the Castro 2 tremendous amount of diseases and epidemics
that could not be cured or treated until the discovery, development, and
production of penicillin and anti-biotics. One disease that flourished was
tuberculosis. This deadly disease spread quickly to many by air. All these
events and notions of the early to mid-twentieth century left a scare in the
hearts and minds of men about everything. The idea of the absurd grew out of an

Algerian born French writer, Albert Camus. His novels and writings expressed a
philosophy for man in the twentieth century. Due to the wars, factions,
assassinations, and political mess, his ideas expressed the lives of many in the
early twentieth century. His life was plagued with death and suffering. He could
relate to every man in Europe and North Africa. His great work, the Myth of

Sisyphus, proposed the philosophy of the absurd he was trying to build up in The

Stranger and The Plague. Basically, Camus states that since the gods punished

Sisyphus with eternal work, Sisyphus could only be happy in knowing he existed
and this displayed the absurdity of modern man and his lifetime of labor. Albert

Camus was influenced by his own absurd life. His father died during his
childhood in the Great War. He grew up with an ill grandmother and illiterate
mother. He became ill with the spreading tuberculosis of the early twentieth
century. Later, he joined the French resistance in World War II. In France, he
became the editor for Combat, a newsletter for the resistance. Through his job,
he was able to make contacts with the leading European writers of his time. This
proved invaluable to him, because with the help of these authors he gained the
fame that won him the Nobel Prize in literature. Many critics believe that his
idea of the absurd grew out of seeing unspeakable acts during the war. In

Camus's Myth of Sisyphus, he actually states that his theory on the absurd is a
reaction to the disillusionment in Europe after the two world wars: Castro 3 The

Myth of Sisyphus attempts to resolve the problem of suicide, as The Rebel
attempts to solve that of murder, in both cases without the aid of eternal
values which, temporarily perhaps, are absent or distorted in contemporary

Europe. (preface) He drew up the philosophy of the absurd to account for the
devastating actions of World War II. He needed an explanation for the misery in
his life and the world, and until then Christianity and the other absolute
philosophies could provide no valid explanation. The philosophy of the absurd he
initiated has three main points. First, life is absurd, and it is useless to
find any pattern or regularity within it. Second, man must accept life as the
absurd and enjoy the absurdity with happiness. Third, man cannot fight the
absurd, but simply accept that life will never have meaning. These three points
combine to form the elements in the works he called "the cycle of the
absurd." These three points are derived from his belief about the absurd
hero. A hero that finds happiness in daily labor,