Short summary - Rhinoceros by Eugene Ionesco

Summary of the work - Sykalo Eugen 2023

Short summary - Rhinoceros by Eugene Ionesco

As an esteemed work of 20th-century French literature, "Rhinoceros" by Eugene Ionesco is a play that explores the existentialist themes of conformity and identity in a world that is constantly changing. The play is set in a small town where the characters are faced with a bizarre and terrifying phenomenon: one by one, the town's inhabitants are turning into rhinoceroses.

The plot of the play is divided into three distinct parts, each of which serves to highlight a different aspect of the central themes. In the following paragraphs, we will explore the plot of each part in detail.

Part I

The first part of the play begins with the introduction of the main character, Berenger, a man who is struggling to find his place in the world. Berenger is a bit of an outcast, and he is often mocked by his colleagues for his lack of ambition and his fondness for alcohol. However, as the play progresses, Berenger's character becomes more defined, and he emerges as a symbol of individuality and resistance against the conformity that is threatening to engulf the town.

As the play continues, the first rhinoceros makes its appearance, and the people of the town are bewildered and frightened by the creature's sudden appearance. However, as the play goes on, more and more people begin to turn into rhinoceroses, and it becomes clear that there is something sinister and inexplicable happening in the town.

Part II

The second part of the play focuses on the transformation of the townspeople into rhinoceroses. Berenger is one of the few people who is able to resist the transformation, and he becomes increasingly isolated as his friends and colleagues succumb to the bizarre metamorphosis.

As the play progresses, Berenger becomes more and more aware of the danger that the rhinoceroses represent. They are violent and destructive creatures, and they seem to be driven by a single-minded desire to destroy everything in their path.

Part III

The final part of the play sees Berenger alone in his struggle against the rhinoceroses. He is the only person left in the town who has not been transformed, and he is forced to confront the reality of his situation.

In the end, Berenger is able to resist the temptation to become a rhinoceros and remains true to his own identity. However, the play ends on a somber note, as it is clear that Berenger is now completely alone in a world that is dominated by conformity and the desire for power.

Overall, "Rhinoceros" is a powerful exploration of the themes of identity and conformity in a world that is constantly changing. The play is a cautionary tale about the dangers of groupthink and the importance of remaining true to one's own individuality, even in the face of overwhelming pressure to conform.