The paper deals with the characteristics of the narration in two dramas by Václav Havel, which suggests Havel's own narrative elements. As Milan Kundera said, Havel liked to talk using the "normal" words and it also works in his plays. Havel often u ...
The paper deals with the characteristics of the narration in two dramas by Václav Havel, which suggests Havel's own narrative elements. As Milan Kundera said, Havel liked to talk using the "normal" words and it also works in his plays. Havel often used the "normal" or "common" elements, and his plays take place in an ordinary environment, etc. We could find the special characteristics of the narration of his plays among such normal and ordinary elements. When examining these plays, we could not only explore ideas of V. Havel as a citizen and a writer, etc., but also to identify the social, political and cultural background of the time.
The drama The Garden Party, which is one of the most famous Czech absurd plays, was written in 1963 and it includes political and Švejk´s satire and Kavka´s elements. In the play, the main character, Hugo Pludek likes chess and has a language talent. His parents sent him to the garden party of the liquidation office, so that there he could meet the influential Kalabis. Hugo does not find him there, but thanks to a succession of absurd situations and replicas that characters exchange, even the reason why Hugo came there changes. In the course of the action, Hugo uses the manipulation of language and comes to the imaginative top of the hierarchy of local officials. He reached the top in the scale of the officials, but at the cost of losing his own identity.
The identity of the man is formed by his opinions and attitudes but Hugo enters the situation completely without opinions. In the course of the play, he accepts different views from other characters, but his identity is rather more suppressed, and it leads to his complete alienation. Hugo also realizes that if he is to be a part of the system, he must operate as "the functional unit”, not as an individual.
Another characteristic of the play is the dualities of the main heroes, which implies his ambivalent character, and, therefore, the absolute ability to adapt to anything. That feature is symbolically shown at the game of chess, which Hugo even does not completely lose nor win. The metaphor of a chessboard is of a key importance for the sense of the drama, for its geometric construction and for the incongruity of the author's methods.
Havel wrote a drama The Audience in 1975, but he could not publish it officially because of the political situation. That play was released officially in his native country until after the revolution in 1992. A typical feature of The Audience (hence all of Havel's plays) is the multiple repetition of the same phrases. The brewery-master is a figure of tragicomic character and, paradoxically, he has a higher status than Vaněk, who is on a much higher intellectual level and who only rolls out the barrels in the brewery. The play has along with several others significant autobiographical features (Vaněk is a writer and roller of barrels as well as Havel himself). The character of Vaněk appears even in other plays, such as The Protest.
In the play, there appears an intellectual writer Vaněk, who is not allowed to perform his work for political reasons and for a punishment is a manual worker in a brewery. Vaněk meets with the supervisor brewer, who has no education and who uses colloquial and sometimes vulgarly language. The brewery-master tells him that he can trust him but not trust anyone and be friends with anyone. He perceives even a secret policeman, who is in charge of Vaněk, as his man and to whom he himself reports on Vaněk. The brewery-master is drunk and proposes Vaněk a higher position, if he snitches on himself. Vaněk refuses it.
Václav Havel did not resist the fact that the theatre of the absurd was of a great inspiration for his dramatic work. But, as Havel stresses, it is not only because of the Beckett or Ionesco literary work, but because of the whole atmosphere of that time. Havel was strongly influenced by the experience of life in Eastern Europe in the total regime. Even though both works contain similarly both the elements, there was a big political change between the two plays. The Prague Spring, which was a symbol of the liberalisation in the Czech Republic, was closed by force and the normalization started. The basic theme of The Garden Party, at which Havel exposes the whole drama, is alienation and the issue of interpersonal communication. As for The Audience, it suggests more social an absurd situation at the time.