Study Questions and Essay Topics
What are the implications of the Old Man's nickname of "Semiramis" for the Old Woman?
How does the presence of Belle and the Photo-engraver affect the Old Man and Old Woman?
Whatever the Old Man's message is before the Orator butchers it, most likely Ionesco did not plan for it to have a specific meaning. He purposely leaves it vague—as a compilation of the man's "life" and "philosophy." However, the man does say he has invited anyone who is proprietary and intellectual—which turns out to be anyone—to hear his message, which will save humanity, and we see that an Emperor rules over everyone. What does this say about the possible underpinnings of his message, especially in reference to the word "proprietary"?
Suggested Essay Topics
Compare The Chairs with Samuel Beckett's Waiting for Godot or Happy Days, which also prominently features a couple stranded in one place.
Why is the stage of The Chairs a semicircle? What does this say about the concept of time in the play?
Why do the Old Man and Old Woman diverge over their accounts of whether they had a son and over what happened to the Old Man's mother?
Compare the Old Man to the character of Berenger in Ionesco's Rhinoceros. How are both similar, and why does Berenger choose to fight the rhinoceroses while the Old Man commits suicide?
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