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The significance of language in any dramatic production, or indeed any piece of performance art, be it song, poetry or whatever, is undoubtedly of great importance, as it is not only the medium through which ideas, thoughts, emotions etc. are communi...

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The significance of language in any dramatic production, or indeed any piece of performance art, be it song, poetry or whatever, is undoubtedly of great importance, as it is not only the medium through which ideas, thoughts, emotions etc. are communicated, but also sets the scene in regards to style, feeling, mood and tone, an understanding of which ought to lead to greater appreciation of the work in question. In his Poetics, Aristotle prescribed that the action of a play be "made pleasurable" "in language", (Aristotle: p10). He also states that "The most important quality in diction is clarity, provided there is no loss of dignity", (Aristotle: p36). These instructions however, may apply quite reasonably to almost any other kind of drama, (at least up until its emergence), but can easily be argued to have lost all authority over the kind of dramatisation that falls under the heading of the Theatre of the Absurd, where pleasance, clarity and dignity frequently fall by the wayside. In an arena where the traditional theatrical objectives of representing reality through long-established stage conventions regarding plot, character development, use and structure of language etc. ...read more.


We know not why they wait, what would happen should Godot arrive, or any other explanatory information. It may be argued that this failure to extract any further understanding of the plot, such as it is, from the language utilized in the play, is symbolic of the difficulty in transferring the original intentions of the writer, his thoughts, feelings etc, to his audience. The language which fails to express, also fails to inform. And yet, with regards to Waiting for Godot, it might also be argued that the language, in this case, does indeed bridge the gap between the desire of the writer and that which is grasped by the audience, in that although the language and the way in which it is used give us little to get our teeth into, neither does the supposed plot, or course of events supply us with any real action. The language does not tell us much because nothing much happens. In fact, what does happen, is that people wait. Estragon and Vladimir, are waiting for Godot, and until he comes, they must simply pass the time. ...read more.


Arguably similar and roughly contemporary movements also seek to express something relevant to its age, through its use of dramatic and literary devices. The 'poetic avant-garde' for example, described as a "parallel trend in contemporary French theatre", does so using "consciously 'poetic' speech", (Esslin, p25). The Theatre of the Absurd however, can be distinguished from such likenesses by taking things a step further to the "radical devaluation of language", (Esslin, p26). The use of language in Samuel Beckett's Waiting for Godot, its contradictory and often nonsensical nature, which leads to its diminished status, reversed role and obscuration of meaning, places the work firmly within the realms of the Theatre of the Absurd. The rejection of realism, and the shift of emphasis and purpose symbolised tangibly by the alternative use of and meaning given to language, point to a need shared by absurd dramatists to convey something other than the traditional theatrical notions usually expressed by realist drama. These notions, the writer's innermost thoughts and affectations, can only find suitable expression, if the form is true to the content. Thus we find ourselves grappling with Lucky's inane monologue, Estragon and Vladimir's farcical dialogue, and other bizarre abuses of language, in order to try to understand that of which Beckett was thinking when he wrote Waiting for Godot. ...read more.

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