Hannah Arendt’s Human Condition in Neil Simon’s Theater

Document Type: Original Article

Authors

1 Department of English Language and Literature, Faculty of Foreign Languages, Central Tehran Branch, Islamic Azad University, Tehran, Iran

2 of English Language and Literature, Faculty of Foreign Languages, Central Tehran Branch, Islamic Azad University, Tehran, Iran

Abstract

Neil Simon’s plays, through their comic exterior, target serious social critique at the contemporary media-ridden culture of America. This research is a study of Simon’s theater from the perspective of Hannah Arendt’s speculations on human condition, totalitarianism, and violence. The selected plays, Fools, Lost in Yonkers, and Laughter on the 23rd Floor are scrutinized according to the three main concepts in Arendt’s thought, which are “action”, “work”, and “labor”. Action‌ is a set of goal-oriented human activities carried out in plurality and imbued with the hope for new possibilities. Plural action is the most effective means of resisting totalitarianism that only wishes to downgrade action to work and then labor through violence. However, despite impositions and enforcements of violence, action always remains in the history for future generations to draw inspiration from. In Simon’s theater, despite its nonpolitical and humorous façade, action is inevitably thwarted, but its positive outcomes cannot be plagued. Simon puts on a vivid display the sparkles of pluralism and action regardless of immanent violence and its democratic disguise.

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