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Rhinoceros

Eugène Ionesco

Key Facts

Important Quotations Explained

Study Questions and Essay Topics

full title ·  Rhinoceros

author · Eugène Ionesco

type of work · Drama

genre · Absurdist drama/comedy

language · French

time and place written · Paris, 1959

date of first production · Paris, 1960

publisher · Grove Press

narrator · No narrator; drama

climax · The climax is delivered in the final line of the play, when Berenger decides to fight the rhinoceroses

protagonist · Berenger

antagonist · The rhinoceroses

setting (time) · Modern day

setting (place) · A small town

point of view · As it is a play, there is no distinct point of view, but the audience sides with Berenger, the only person who sees through the rhinoceroses. However, Ionesco has the rhinoceroses grow more beautiful by the end to represent the changing perceptions of the remaining humans (such as Daisy), a fact that the audience cannot ignore.

falling action · There is no falling action; the curtain closes on Berenger's climactic decision

tense · Play; present tense

foreshadowing · Berenger and Jean both show oppositions of character in relation to will (Berenger is more responsible and committed than one might think, Jean less so).

tone · Absurdly comic, philosophical

themes · Will and responsibility; absurdity and logic; fascism

motifs · Bourgeois alienation; escapism; harm/violence

symbols · Rhinoceroses

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