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Absurdism

culture during the absurdism time period

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Absurdity and purposelessness frames the play, "Rhinoceros," a study in a single man's transformation from apathy to responsibility as the world around him descends into violence and greater levels of absurdity. Ionesco called it an anti-Nazi work, and it was performed just long enough after WWII for tensions to settle down, but not so long that fascism was forgotten; its debut had a reported fifty curtain calls in Germany. This is understandable, as the play demonstrates how anyone can fall victim to collective, unconscious thought by letting their wills be manipulated by others.  Ionesco skirted the problem of trying to represent realistically the Holocaust by dressing his play in heavy but apparent symbolism.
 
When confronted with the devastating results of the second World War, people were disillusioned with various totalitarian fallacies, the optimism of scientific development, and the traditional belief in God's benevolence to the world.  They were enveloped by the feelings of despair and strangeness in a world that had once been.

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