Rhinoceros

by: Eugène Ionesco

Jean

Characters Jean

Jean epitomizes the Nietzschean conception of the "super-man" who is above morality. He believes in the strength of his will and rationalist intellect. His arrogance and unspoken disdain for the common man, especially for Berenger's lackadaisical attitude toward life, foreshadows his metamorphosis into a savage, vicious rhinoceros. As the most fleshed-out character who transforms into a rhino, he symbolizes the Nietzschean "will to power" of the fascist rhinos, their use of strength and will to circumvent morality and return to a primal state of nature. Yet Jean is ridden with hypocrisies and contradictions. He shows himself from the start to be as irresponsible as Berenger, showing up late to their meeting and refusing a day of culture to nap and drink. In fact, his appreciation for self-improvement seems to stem from his view of education as cultural capital, and not as an exploration of his humanity. He always rationalizes these lapses after the fact, drawing on his vast reserves of logic to skew the discussion. When Jean vows, as a rhino, that he will trample Berenger and anyone who gets in his way, it is clear that his transformation was a mere exchange of bodies, and not of morality.