Absurdism in  The Zoo Story: How Edward Albee Showed Us the World without Meaning

The Zoo Story by Edward Albee was one of the first absurdist plays to be performed in the United States, and it remains one of the most memorable. In it, two men discuss their relationship while at the Central Park Zoo; during this conversation, they’re forced to endure the antics of a mentally ill man who seems unable to distinguish between reality and fantasy—or does he? As you read through this play, pay close attention to what you think about its characters and the world around them. What lessons about life does The Zoo Story teach us? What important messages can we glean from this work?

Edward Albee’s Zoo Story is an absurdist play that follows the story of two men, Peter and Jerry, who grew up together in Central Park Zoo. While they were raised by animals and had no human contact, they were still able to learn English and mimic human social behaviours through observation alone. When Peter decides he wants to leave the zoo and start living in the real world, he convinces Jerry to join him, and the play unfolds as the two try to adapt to their new surroundings in New York City.

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Making sense of the world can be difficult, especially when you’re living in it. Absurdism, one of the philosophical movements of the 20th century, approaches the idea of our time on Earth as an incongruous, confusing experience that cannot be reconciled or understood using reason and logic alone. In his famous play The Zoo Story, Edward Albee explores this concept through the interaction between two strangers who meet in New York City’s Central Park Zoo and end up having an interesting conversation about life and meaning.

What is Absurdism?

Absurdism is a philosophical movement that began in the 1940s. It emphasizes the inherent lack of meaning in the world. Absurdists believe that humans try to find meaning in their lives, but ultimately fail. They often use humour and satire to point out the absurdity of human existence.

A Brief History of Absurdist Theater

In the late 1940s and early 1950s, a group of European playwrights began experimenting with a new form of theatre that would come to be known as theatre of the absurd. These writers were influenced by existential philosophers like Jean-Paul Sartre and Albert Camus, who argued that life is ultimately meaningless.

The absurdist playwrights took this idea and ran with it, creating works that showed the world as a place where things just happen without any rhyme or reason. One of the most famous absurdist plays is Edward Albee’s The Zoo Story, which tells the story of two men who meet by chance in a New York City park and end up having a conversation that takes some very dark turns.

Finding the Absurd in the Zoo Story

Many people find Absurdism in The Zoo Story by Edward Albee. The play is full of references to animals and the zoo, which can be interpreted as a symbol for the human condition. For example, Jerry’s job at the advertising agency can be seen as a way to sell people false hope. Similarly, Peter’s apartment can be seen as a prison that confines him from experiencing life. The title of the play itself could be interpreted as a commentary on how we try to create meaning in our lives, but ultimately fail.

Meaninglessness in The Zoo Story

In The Zoo Story, Edward Albee showed us a world without meaning. The characters were all searching for something to make their lives seem more important, but in the end, they were all just animals in a zoo. The absurdity of their situation was clear, but it was also a commentary on the human condition. We are all searching for something to make our lives more bearable, but sometimes we need to step back and see the big picture. Life is meaningless without connection to others, and that is what Albee was trying to show us.

Isolation in the Zoo Story

The Zoo Story is a play about isolation and the human condition. The main character, Jerry, is a man who is cut off from society and lives in his own little world. He has no friends, no family, and no life outside of his job at the zoo. His only contact with other people is when they come to visit the zoo. Even then, he doesn’t really interact with them; he just watches them from a distance.

Cruelty and Violence

Zoo Story by Edward Albee is a play that absurdly depicts the world without meaning. The characters, Jerry and Peter, seem to be the only ones in their own little world with no one else around. This lack of other people leads to both men feeling isolated and ultimately turning on each other. The violence that erupts is a result of this isolation and lack of connection to others. In the end, we are left with two men who are broken and alone, just as they were at the beginning of the play.


The Zoo story is one of the most prominent example of theatre of absurd. Some elements such as meaninglessness, isolation, and cruelty and Violence can be seen throughout the play.

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