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Requiem for an Identity and Space

Dr. Eren Alkan,

Department of Sociology, Faculty of Letters, Ege University, Izmir, Turkey

As two strong soldiers of capitalism; consumerism and consumption help people to get a sense of belonging, more freedom, and satisfaction on the surface but in reality they create nihilism and no sense of belonging. In the 20th and 21st centuries, human beings sleep with strong chains in a complex helical cul-de-sac and try to create new identities for themselves. Within the overall pessimistic environment, Jean Genet, the playwright, addresses the ‘Others’ in his plays. His focus is on the characters themselves and their existential dilemmas, rather than the narratives of their lives or external circumstances. Genet delves into the ways in which his nihilistic characters grapple with life and attempt to assume varying masks or identities in order to flee to alternate realities. At that point, recreating the identity turns into a crucial turning point in his plays. For example, the character Claire in Maids and the character Maurice in Haute Surveillance are two lost, suppressed, alienated, powerless, and spaceless characters who are locked behind the walls and try to create new Phoenixes which are different from their own identities for they are not satisfied with their selves, souls, or social classes. In conclusion, it can be said that Claire in Maids and Maurice in Haute Surveillance have crucial significance in the context and theme of the play, for Genet sets up the tension over the characters and burdens all philosophical and psychosocial problems such as escapism/multiple identities, and spacelessness/powerlessness onto his characters’ existentialism as they are investigated in the presentation.

Keywords: Jean Genet, Absurd Theatre, Escapism, Identity, Space

The above abstract is a part of the article which was accepted at The Ninth International Conference on Languages, Linguistics, Translation and Literature (WWW.LLLD.IR), 1-2 February 2024, Ahwaz.