Eugene Ionesco’s Rhinoceros: True Means Resides Essay

Published: 2021-06-29 01:46:04
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Eugene Ionesco’s “Rhinoceros”: True Means Resides in Action not WordsEugene Ionesco’s “Rhinoceros”: True Means Resides in Action not WordsI awoke sweating. Breathing heavily, I glanced over at my clock andread the time.
4:00 AM. I wasn’t sure if this was reality or not so I ran mypalm over my scalp. No bump. A sigh of relief came over me.
“Phew,” I said,”it was only a dream. “This is a dream I have had often throughout the past couple of years. Each time, the bump in my dream gets bigger and bigger and each time I wake upI’m more and more frightened that the dream was real. “I will not be arhinoceros,” I tell myself over and over.
“I will not. “These words I tell myself are nearly meaningless though. They are wordsand nothing more. Futile attempts to ease the pain of my “rhinocerotic” life.
The only way to really not become a rhinoceros is by making the existentialdecision not to do so. A main theme in Eugene Ionesco’s, Rhinoceros, is that true meaningresides in action rather than in mere words. A resistance to taking action thenresults in one’s becoming a rhinoceros. Jean illustrates this in the beginningof Act 2, scene 2, when we see Jean and Berenger bickering. Berenger feels thatJean isn’t looking or feeling well and threatens to get him a doctor. Jeanresists by saying, “You’re not going to get the doctor because I don’t want thedoctor.
I can look after myself. ” (pp. 62) This refusal comes from hisarrogant view of himself as a “Master of his own thoughts,” (pp. 61) and”Having will-power!” (pp. 7) By seeing the doctor, Jean would have puthimself in the position of taking responsibility for his actions and seeing thathe wasn’t always the “master of his own thoughts” and that his will-power wasactually quite weak.
It would be admitting the meaninglessness in his futileattempts to remain a human. He didn’t want to see that he, in fact, wasbecoming a rhinoceros. Had Jean agreed to see a doctor, he may have been saved. By seeing thedoctor, Jean would have come to terms with his becoming a rhinoceros. Aftercoming to terms with his current state, he could then change his subsequentstate to one of taking action to be an individual. Berenger, however, illustrates the power in making an existentialdecision.
The trumpeting call of the rhinoceros was a persuasive one, butBerenger was able to resist it through his commitment and determination. In thebeginning of Act 3, Berenger and Dudard are speaking after Berenger was awakenedfrom a nightmare. Dudard proposed the possibility that Berenger could turn intoa rhinoceros. Berenger refutes this possibility by saying, “If you really don’twant to knock yourself, you don’t. ” (pp.
73). The knocking yourself he isspeaking of is the growing of a horn and turning into a rhinoceros. He againreiterates this by saying, “. .
. If one really doesn’t want to, really doesn’twant to catch this thing, which after all is a nervous disease-then you don’tcatch it. . . ” (pp.
76) Berenger is explaining to Dudard how through making anexistential choice, one can avoid becoming a rhinoceros. Ionesco then uses Dudard to ignite Berenger’s desire to not become arhinoceros when Dudard says to him to prove his will-power and stop drinking. This leads Berenger to his realization that he despises rhinoceroses and hisdetermination to not be like them. It now becomes imminent that Berenger willachieve his “moment of commitment” though he still possesses some doubts.
The ultimate commitment occurs at the very end of the play when Daisyfinds the rhinoceroses more and more attractive and Berenger finds them more andmore disgusting. When Daisy eventually joins them and Berenger is left byhimself. Only then does he make his true existential decision by saying, “I’mthe last man left, and I’m staying that way until the end. I’m notcapitulating!”This is the decision that all of us must make. We must resist ourtemptations to make up meaningless decrees for ourselves and take responsibilityfor our actions.
Existentialist decision allows us to act to overcome ourweaknesses and remain productive humans. This is the only way to end ournightmare. This is the only way to know we will never have to wake up with abump on our heads. We must always believe in ourselves and what is right. Wemust realize that as we act, so shall we become.English

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