Study Guide

Happy Days Philosophical Viewpoints: "The Absurd"

By Samuel Beckett

Philosophical Viewpoints: "The Absurd"

Cats and dogs. Cops and robbers. Werewolves and vampires. They don't like each other but they have to live together—or at least near each other. What does this have to do with "The Absurd," you ask? Well, according to Absurdist philosophy, there is a constant tension between humans and the world we live in. Why? Mostly because humans want to know why something is happening and if it's going to last forever, a lot like David After Dentist.

The thing is, there's not always a particular reason why something is happening; life is irrational and lacks meaning. But does that mean that we should just give up? Nope, it just means we need to accept the absurdity of life and move on. In other words, life is absurd, harmony is not possible, and in the words of The King of Rock 'n' Roll, that's alright mama.

Questions About Philosophical Viewpoints: "The Absurd"

  1. Do Winnie and Willie accept the absurdity of their situation and, in the words of French philosopher Albert Camus, does this gain them "absolute freedom"?
  2. What is there to suggest Winnie believes in a transcendent realm beyond the absurd world in which she lives?
  3. How much does Winnie's acceptance of her absurd existence have to do with her sense of faith?
  4. Philosophers such as Camus and Kierkegaard both recognized suicide as "an escape from existence" but not from absurdity. How would this idea apply to Winnie and Willie's situation?

Chew on This

Willie has come to terms with the absurdity of life and that is why he acts the way he does throughout the play. He is the only happy character in the play.

Winnie's optimism suggests that she never completely accepts the absurdity of her existence.

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