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Allegory in Edward Albees THE AMERICAN DREAM Our understanding of Edward Albees achievement in The American Dream 1960 has come a long way since 1961 when Martin Esslin hailed it as a brilliant first example of an American contribution to the Theatre of the Absurd1 and 1966 when Nicholas Canaday Jr labeled it Americas best example of what has come to be known as the theatre of the absurd2 The shrewdest assessment of absurdism in Albee is by Brian Way who shows convincingly that although Albee has successfully mastered the techniques of theatrical absurdism he has nevertheless shied away from embracing the metaphysics that the style implies3 That is Albee knows that Theatre of the Absurd is an absorption-in-art of certain existentialist and post-existentialist philosophical concepts having to do in the main with mans attempts to make sense for himself out of his senseless position in a world which makes no sense4 But Albee nevertheless believes in the validity of reason--that things can be proved or that events can be shown to have definite meanings5 Structurally the chief evidence for this claim is that Albees plays including The American Dream move toward resolution denouement and completion rather than the circularity or open-endedness typical of Theatre of the Absurd6 In regard to content Ways point may be extended by contrasting the implications of the titles of The American Dream and Eugene Ionescos The Bald Soprano an absurdist drawing room comedy to which Albees play seems indebted in many ways Ionescos title derives from the Firemans passing reference to the woman who always wears her hair in the same style7 She is not a character in the play nor is she ever referred to again She is a non-sequitur as is everything else in that circular play since nothing follows logically from what precedes it Albees title on the other hand is rich in intellectual and moral substance since it refers to a host of ideas
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