Absurd Person Singular


Sir Alan Ayckbourn

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Absurd Person Singular Themes

Themes and Colors
The Middle Class Theme Icon
Materialism Theme Icon
Fortune  Theme Icon
Gender Roles Theme Icon
LitCharts assigns a color and icon to each theme in Absurd Person Singular, which you can use to track the themes throughout the work.

The Middle Class

In Absurd Person Singular and his other plays from the 1970s, Sir Alan Ayckbourn offered a scathing critique of the British middle class. For most of the early 20th century, the British class system was mostly split between the working class (families whose incomes came mostly from manufacturing-based jobs) and the upper class (families whose incomes came mostly from financial and managerial jobs, or who lived off of an inheritance). That changed following the end…

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All six of the characters in Absurd Person Singular believe in the same twisted “religion”—materialism. Fanatically, they seek to accumulate physical possessions: washing machines, toys, bottles, spoons. It can be overwhelming just to think about all the useless stuff that the characters buy over the course of the play. Ayckbourn was writing his play at a time when the middle class was booming, and when the sale of nonessential products and appliances was through the…

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One of the most puzzling things about Absurd Person Singular is the way that the characters’ fortunes—both their economic status and their overall luck in life—keep going up and down for no discernible reason. In only two years, Ronald Brewster-Wright—who was introduced as a successful, impressive middle-aged banker—falls on hard times, to the point where he’s relieved simply because his bank isn’t “in the red.” Another character, Eva Jackson, goes from being socially…

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Gender Roles

Absurd Person Singular comments on what modern English society expects men and women to do, as the play’s middle-class characters obey strong yet unwritten rules about their gender roles. The three male characters work, while their wives do not, and tend to be more overtly associated with the domestic sphere. And yet, as a result of the structure of middle-class life, these kinds of gender roles keep getting mixed up. Men behave in stereotypically effeminate…

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