In the ``theater of the absurd,'' human experience is seen as fragmented and purposeless.
Characters abandon any search for truth characteristic of romantic drama (as in early
19th century drama) because there is no world vision of what Atruth@ is anymore.
Samuel Beckett, Eugene Ionesco, and Jean Genet are among the foremost European adherents.
In Beckett's plays such as Endgame and Waiting for Godot, life itself
seems to have come to a halt, and his characters typically engage in fruitless and repetitive actions that underscore the
meaninglessness of their existence. Likewise, their language is repetitious and
words become incapable of carrying meaning.
The surface of Ionesco's plays is often more overtly comic (especially in Rhinoceros
with the protagonist being amazed as women and men turn into rhinoceroses before his eyes), but he also emphasizes man's inability
to control and order experience and repeatedly shows man as the victim of modern technology and bourgeois values (and, as
in Rhinoceros, emphasizes humanity=s willingness to follow the status quo and to conform).
In Genet's work, illusion and reality are often violently and erotically fused to suggest
the painful absurdity of contemporary life. His emphasis is often on the raw,
seamy underside of life where sex and violence are just below the surface and are the reality behind one=s actions.