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The Grotesque in Amedee or How to Get Rid oflt LINDA DAVIS KYLE • THE ART OF THE GROTESQUE is developed by Eugene Ionesco in Amedee or How to Get Rid ofIt in the growing corpse, a dramatically effective image which along with the proliferating, giant mushrooms contributes elements of both the macabre and burlesque, and in the overall chaotic situation of the dehumanized couple Amedee and Madeleine. A corpse with the ability to grow is not an overused literary subject, but such a corpse is introduced in the first section of T.S. Eliot's The Waste Land: "That corpse you planted last year in your garden.lHas it begun to sprout? Will it bloom this year?"1 While the corpse may express the idea that the past cannot be interred, it may also suggest that death must precede rebirth . On a lighter side, Robert Service's "The Cremation of Sam McGee" describes a seemingly growing corpse in the lines, "With a corpse half hid that I couldn't get rid .... / And every day that quiet clay seemed to heavy and heavier grow."2 In spite of a macabre subject, Service develops a humorous poem. To create an unstable mixture of heterogeneous elements, Ionesco produces the fantastic atmosphere of the grotesque by depicting characters as marionettes or automatons, whose actions are frenzied and mechanical , and develops the themes of the grotesque by means of exaggeration , dehumanization, disproportion, and subversion oforder. Through the grotesque, Ionesco wishes to expose the absurdity and artifice inherent in language and drama by exploding their structures.3 He does not wish to annihilate the language and drama; instead he calls for a new birth and new ordering of literature when he says, "I hope this 281 282 LINDA DAVIS KYLE is just a temporary end, that literature - like the phoenix - will be reborn from its ashes."4 lonesco also supports this idea in the article "The Avant-Garde Theatre" where he writes: ... the new dramatist is one ... who tries to link up with what is most ancient : new language and subject matter in a dramatic structure which aims at being clearer, more stripped of inessentials and more purely theatrical; the rejection of traditionalism to rediscover tradition, a synthesis of knowledge -and invention, of the real and imaginary, of the particular and the universal .... 5 In Conversations with Claude Bonnefoy, Ionesco indicates that his grotesque characters, Amedee and Madeleine, are symbols of "the world itself, ... man and woman, Adam and Eve .... the whole of mankind, divided and trying to come together again, to become one."6 Perhaps the personal chaos of Amedee and Madeleine is a microcosm of the beginning , universal chaos. Cast in the roles of Adam and Eve, they may be seen as the post-Iapsarian couple who feel guilt and the need to get rid of their guilt (the corpse). Their hiding from their neighbours can perhaps compare with Adam's and Eve's hiding from God after the fall. Similarly , they are doomed to toil and labour, even though they work ineffectively . Unlike the beautiful, flowering garden of Adam and Eve, the garden of Amedee and Madeleine is a mushroom garden which thrives on the decay of their apartment-grave. In contemporary terms, the mushrooms also may bring to mind clouds of atomic war; the withdrawal of Amedee and Madeleine from the outside world, a retreat into a bomb shelter; the presence of American soldiers, the Cold War period during which the play appeared; and Amedee's statement, "I'm a misfit ... I wasn't made to live in the twentieth century" (p. 31), a rejection of the modern world. Ionesco says that "the characters help [him] give a truth to the symbols because they are more or less 'real' characters, characters who seem to exist, people you seem to see every day, true characters, if you have such a thing. So their 9rdinariness sets off or accentuates all that's not ordinary , all that's unusual, strange or symbolic."7 The contrast of their ordinary physical appearances with their mechanized actions and inability to think logically reinforces the grotesque. Their discussion of the murder shows their attempt to reason out their problem...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1712-5286
Print ISSN
0026-7694
Pages
pp. 281-290
Launched on MUSE
2013-07-03
Open Access
No
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