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The Chairs

Key Facts

Main ideas Key Facts

full title · The Chairs (in French, Les Chaises)

author · Eugène Ionesco

type of work · Drama

genre · Absurdist drama/comedy

language · French

time and place written · Paris, 1952

date of first production · Paris, April 22, 1952

publisher · Grove Press

narrator · No narrator; drama

climax · The climax occurs when the Old Man and Old Woman commit suicide, and the Orator unintelligibly attempts to deliver the message

protagonist · Old Man

antagonist · There is no direct antagonist, though the Old Man's inability to deliver his own message is his primary obstacle

setting (time) · Unclear and unimportant

setting (place) · A house on an island

point of view · As it is a play, there is no distinct point of view, but the audience empathizes with the Old Man

falling action · The invisible crowd makes noise after the Orator leaves

tense · Play; present tense

foreshadowing · The Old Woman warns the Old Man not to fall out of the window at the beginning of the play

tone · Absurdly comic, philosophical

themes · The repetitive present and inaccessible past; Responsibility and a meaningful life

motifs · Self-conscious theatricality

symbols · Semicircular stage