Rhinoceros Questions and Answers
by Eugene Ionesco

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How does Eugene Ionesco's Rhinoceros demonstrate the qualities of Theatre of the Absurd?  

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The absurdist aspects of Rhinoceros are ubiquitous. The characters present and speak of many nihilistic tendencies, and the action is fantastic. Rhinoceros does have something of a plot, as the action progresses and events lead to a climax; the viewer expects the animals’ takeover. In many ways, however, the structure is irrelevant, as the varied near-repetition of the transformations dominates each scene. The principal element of fantasy, as humans turn into rhinoceroses, leaves the play outside the realm of realism.

Jean and Dudard are two characters who embody the absurdist spirit and seem to counter the more conventional Berenger. Although their philosophies differ in some important regards, both Jean and Dudard are severely alienated. Berenger often provides the foil against which the other characters toss their antisocial or amoral views. When Berenger tells Jean that “we [humans] have a philosophy that animals don’t share, and an...

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