Absurdism in Literature


Absurdism means the internal conflict between human tendency to find the inherent value and the meaning of life and his inability to find any.

In other words, absurdism refers to humans struggle to find the region in his life and his inability to find it due to humanly limited constraints.

Thus absurdism refers to something which is humanly impossible rather than logically impossible. In this sense, one who tries to find inherent values and meaning in life will ultimately fail because of impossible certain.


The absurdism rose during the period of world wars. These world wars had shaken the whole world. The mass killings of millions of people made the writers of the age believe that the world is meaningless.

Everybody has his own way of finding meanings. If we use the concept of Absurdism in terms of War it can be interpreted that nations indulged in the wars in order to achieve something for themselves through the war means, though the brutality is against humanity.

The two important writers Kierkegaard and Camus have tried to give solutions in their works with The Sickness unto Death and The myth of Sisyphus respectively.  According to Camus, there are 3 solutions to absurdism

  1. Adopting or creating a meaning Framework like religion the exists consider it as philosophical suicide because by submitting to an idea or being which is considered to be beyond the observed limits once freedom.
  2. Suicide: it is a solution in which a person considers life meaningless boring or painful and that ends his life according to Camus, death is not observed but once attempt to kill himself is.
  3. Acceptance of the Absurd: it is the solution in which a person accepts the absurdity of life he needed submits to any religious or moral constants know as his life and lives at his greatest extent of freedom.

Absurdism is different from existentialism and Nihilism as explained below:

“Nihilism holds that there is no meaning of life and creating a meaning is useless. Existentialism holds that do the world is observed one can create the meaning of his own to it. Absurdism, on the other hand, believes that world is meaningless and one should accept as well as Rebel against it”.


  1. Absurd dramas are lyrical, like music: they describe an atmosphere and an experience of archetypal human situations.
  2. Life is essentially meaningless, hence sorrowful.
  3. There is no hope because of the inevitable futility of man’s efforts.
  4. Reality cannot be borne unless relieved by illusions and dreams.
  5. The absurd play includes conventional speech, slogans, technical jargon and clichés in order to make people aware of the possibility of moving beyond common speech conventions and communicating more authentically.
  6. Objects hold a more significant position than the language.
  7. Man is fascinated by death which permanently replaces dreams and illusions.
  8. There is no action or plot. What happens is very little as nothing meaningful can happen.
  9. The final situation is absurd or comic.
  10. Absurd drama is not purposeful and specific as it solves no problem. It is like an abstract painting which does not convey a particular meaning.
  11. It negates rationalism because it feels that rational thought, like language, only deals with the superficial aspects of things.
  12. It considers language a failure to express the essence of human experience, not being able to penetrate beyond its surface.
  13. There is no dramatic conflict in the absurd plays.