In Rhinoceros, how is the theme related to Nazism?

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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The political and social conformity that seeks to eliminate "the other" is the central idea behind Ionesco's play.  In the drama, the townspeople become rhinos and seek to eliminate all signs of being human.  In an increasing trend, the people in the town become rhinos only to eliminate any other voices.  For Berenger, the immediate transformation of the townspeople into rhinos is unsettling as he is the only one left to stand against a political tide of conformity and control.  It is this point where one sees the connection to Nazism.  The sweeping and intense manner in which the townspeople change is reflective of how people became sympathizers or outright supporters of Nazism.  The political conformity, like the transformation to Nazism, came out of belief or agreement, political convenience, or the desire to be like everyone else.  Berenger's painful predicament of being the lone voice against the rhinos reflects how agonizing it is to be the one person standing against an overwhelming political current such as the Nazis.

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