The Memorandum

What is the main conflict in The Memorandum by Vaclav Havel?

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Like much of Havel's writing, The Memorandum is political, at least implicitly. The play concerns the tribulations of Josef Gross, the managing director of an organization encumbered by a bureaucracy that is out of control. The introduction of an artificial language, Ptydepe, is supposed to streamline office communications, but only makes it worse. Havel's satire is full of irony about the kind of jobs created by communism as well as the constant surveillance by office spies. Though Havel's vision was informed by his observations, many critics have noted that the office politics depicted can be found around the world. The importance of conformity to keep one's job is seen as relatively common. As Michael Billington of The Guardian wrote, "The play may have grown out of experience of Czech communism; its application, however, is universal."