Edward Albee’s The Zoo Story and Harold Pinter’s The Caretaker: Theatre of the Absurd or Theatre of Language?
Mouloud MAMMERI University of Tizi-Ouzou Faculty of Letters and Humanities
This dissertation is a discursive study of two twentieth-century plays which have been characterized as absurdist: The Zoo Story by Edward Albee and The Caretaker by Harold Pinter.The study examines the dialogues of the characters from linguistic perspectives in order to account for the way the language of the characters causes violence effects in the two selected plays, and the way the characters’ identity expressed by their discourse.The study seeks also to give more insights on those assumptions in the existing critical literature which insists on the ‘devaluation of language’ and ‘meaninglessness’ of dialogues in the two plays. The analysis in this study is based on Grice’s theory of Conversational Implicature, the constructionists’ assumptions about the identity formation, and the pertinent literature on the issue of violence. The analytic observations about the data focus on the various ways in which the characters fail to observe the Cooperative Principle and its four attendant Maxims, namely the maxim of quantity, quality, relation, and manner, and on the generated meaning from the chaaracters’ flouting of the previous maxims. The study reveals that the identity of the characters is expressed thanks to the playwrights’s violation of the Cooperative Priciple. The violence effects in the two plays also turn to be the result of the playwright’s effective use of the Cooperative Principle by elaborating the characters’ flouting of the four conversational Maxims. Finally, the study demonstrates how the critics miss the interesting point about the unconventional use of language in their assumptions about the language in the Theatre of the Absurd, and how the Theatre of the Absurd deserves to be labeled The Theatre of Language.
Discourse, violence, identity, Theatre of the Absurd, language, Grice’s Cooperatave Principle, Conversational Maxims, Implicature.