The Real Inspector Hound

Inspector Hound Doesn’t Exist: Recognising Empty Social Institutions in Stoppard's and Havel's Plays College

In his essay, The Myth of Sisyphus, Albert Camus explores the absurdity of the human condition, and attempts to find a way for man to reconcile himself with such an inherently meaningless existence. It is not something that is particularly hard, as Camus puts it: “We get into the habit of living before acquiring the habit of thinking” (Camus 15). Camus suggests that the human instinct for survival is so strong that man often adapts to existing societal roles and functions in order to live, while not necessarily thinking about the significance and purpose of his actions. This theme is explored in Václav Havel’s The Garden Party, as well as Tom Stoppard’s The Real Inspector Hound, as both plays feature their protagonists navigating seemingly interchangeable roles in society. In the former, young Hugo Pludek rises up the ranks at the Liquidation Office simply by adopting the dominant mannerisms and rhetoric within the institution (Havel), and in The Real Inspector Hound, critics Birdboot and Moon find themselves literally transformed into the characters in a play that they are watching (Stoppard). By showing how the characters easily get used to and insert themselves into completely new roles, the plays imply that while social...

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