Welcome to our Rhinoceros project! Here, you will find analyses of various parts of the text encased in a simple, easy-to-use user interface.
Throughout the play, Ionesco uses the theme of fascism to explore the mentality of those who sided with the Nazis. Ionesco released this play in 1959, during this time, World War II had ended. After witnessing this horrific war, Ionesco took time to reflect and write a play that alluded to the war. There are many aspects of the war and its build up, which are similar to the theme in the play. One example is the build of the “rhinoceros rumor”, the spread of this rumor is rapidly-growing. This idea spread as quick as fascism throughout Europe. The development of this idea is exemplified when Botard, Daisy, Papillon, Berenger, and Dudard argue the existence of the rhinos. They eventually come to the conclusion that the rhinos due indeed exist. From the start of the book, the idea of rhinos has snowballed, fascism spread across Europe in a similar way. Another similarity between fascism and the rhinos is Dugard's idea of a “universal family”. Dudard eventually begins to think that becoming a rhinoceros is not that bad, and that he should join it because he is now out numbered in his town, this is how the few that were surrounded by fascism felt.
Throughout the play, there is a constant battle between logic and absurdity. Ionesco’s goal of this is to convey the message that the world is nonsensical and can’t always be defined by logic. Ionesco makes characters, such as: the Logician, Botard, and Berenger, question the sudden appearance of rhinoceroses. Each time the results are inconclusive, this sudden arrival of rhinos is inexplicable. Ionesco uses this tactic to show how extent of logic is not infinite. An example of this is when Botard cannot accept his peers’ accounts of the rhinoceroses. Botard’s stubbornness persists throughout the scene, even when a rhinoceros does appear, he claims that he was right all along. He is barraded questions by his colleagues, Dudard asks, “ How do you consider this change came about?” Botard responds, “ it’s an open secret gentlemen. Even the man in the street knows about it. Only hypocrites pretend not to understand,” (Ionesco page 54). Referring back to the passage, the existence of these rhinoceroses is once again questioned, and is deflected over and over. In this case, Botard claims to know the “whys and wherefores” regarding the rhinos, but once again there is no clear answer. Instead, Botard only accentuates his self-absorbed personality, he contradicts himself when he says “only hypocrites pretend not to understand”. This is hypocritical of Botard to say because even he does not understand the rhinoceros phenomenon. Again, there are questions and the symbolism of the rhinoceroses to emphasize the nonsensical life we live in.
Motivation is defined as, “the reason or reasons one has for acting or behaving in a particular way,” (Google). In the play Rhinoceros, author Eugene Ionesco analyzes human nature to learn more about their motivational factors. In his play, Ionesco uses syllogism to establish his main idea. A main idea seen the passage is that many people are similar based on their actions, which is defines their human nature. This is seen in the fact that the actions of Jean closely correlate to that of a logician and the actions of Berenger relate most to the actions of the old man. This idea is supported in a few ways. For example, the use of repetition is used to emphasize this idea. Following the unexpected encounter with the rhinoceros, the author depicts two simultaneous conversations that originally have no relevance to each other whatsoever. However, that changes when both conversations repeat the exact same lines as before. This is seen in the following dialogue (Ionesco 21): “Old Gentleman: That’s not so easy. Berenger: That’s not so easy. Logician: On the contrary, it’s simple. Old Gentleman: It may be simple, but not for me. Berenger. It may be simple, but not for me.” This is an example of repetition because the lines are being repeated from person to person. It is important to know which people are reciting the exact same lines. When continuing to read the dialogue on the following page, one can determine that the Old Gentleman and Berenger have similar lines and the Logician and Jean have similar lines. Therefore using the rules of syllogism, the author is portraying Berenger as an old man but portraying Jean to a logician. This is primarily because of their actions throughout the novel. For example, both the logician and Jean both praise themselves while making sure that they make others (specifically Berenger and the Old Gentleman) feel bad about themselves.
To emphasize this point even further, the author makes use of juxtaposition to differentiate the personalities of Jean, the old man, the logician and Berenger. To describe Jean and the logician, the author repeats the word “I” several times to show his egoistic and self-centered way of life. On the other hand, Berenger and the old man are constantly controlled by those super to them (in this example, Jean and Berenger). This therefore shows that those who react similarly in their daily lives to everyday activities have similar personalities. Based on this idea, human nature is formed for future actions. Therefore, motivation is determined by personality, which is determined by factors in the external environment. In summation, motivation was emphasized in Rhinoceros through the use of syllogism.
In the play “Rhinoceros” the author makes use of several writing strategies to emphasize a central idea in the text. A possible central idea of the passage is people are sufficient moral and ethical standards, but are however corrupted by societal goals and ideals. This idea is expressed mainly using symbolism throughout the story among other writing strategies. This is because throughout the novel there are many characters with dynamic ranges of personalities. For example, Jean is characterized as a self-centered idealist that criticizes others for not being more like him. However, Ionesco makes an interesting point. He essentially says that although people express individuality they also express characteristics similar to others who have the same demeanor. Here is an example from the play through the use of repetition.
At a local bar two friends named Jean and Berenger are discussing the passion needed to be successful in life. Simultaneously a logician and an old man are discussing how logic can be used to solve real world problems. When Berenger is seeking advice from Jean about how to improve his and the old gentleman is asked a difficult question by the logician, Berenger and the old man both say, “It may be simple for you, but not for me,” (Ionesco 21). Jean and the logician reply with the line, “Come on, exercise your mind. Concentrate!” This idea plays a role in how society corrupts individuals because people are able to positively and negatively influence people based on their thoughts and actions. In the dialogue above, the use of the exact same lines for two sets of distinct characters shows that the demeanor of the logician is correlated most with the demeanor of Jean (the same can be said about the old man and Berenger). This shows that influences in society play a role in our thoughts and actions, therefore corrupting them.
To emphasize this corruption even more, the author makes use of symbolism to represent society. This idea is seen in the fact that society as a whole is represented by the group of rhinos at the end of the book. This idea is also really compelling because there are people who have their own individual traits, but most of them are corrupted by desires in society. As established earlier, people tend have their own characterization, but often times people exhibit other characteristics most likely from environmental influence. This corrupts society so much that the individuality is lost and societal ideals change. This is seen in the fact that people with polar opposite personalities (Jean, Daisy, Dudard, Botard, etc.- their personalities were established in the dialogue) finally caved into the needs of society due to environmental influence. In conclusion, the use of symbolism in the play emphasized its main idea.