What are  the themes in "The Lesson " by Eugene Ionesco?Please tell me the themes and what is this plays means to you, and how this play dellineats life.

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ladyvols1's profile pic

ladyvols1 | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

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This play, by Ionesco is a drama that "satirizes totalitarianism in education, politics, language, psychology, and sexuality."  The play is set in the study of a professor who tutors one student at a time.  The way that he teaches these doctorate students proceedes in a manner that becomes completely stifling and controlling.  He talks nonsense and expects the student to verbalize what he wants them to say.  He eventually kills the student.  The maid, a central character in the play continues to warn him not to proceed yet she helps him clean up his mess.  She warns him that he needs to change his methods or "he will run out of students."  Yet, he continues to do the same thing over and over.

This play is not one of my favorites.  The concept of history repeating itself and the control of powers such as Hitler and the Nazi Party has been done better.  I much preferred "Animal Farm" by George Orwell, or even "1984" which satirizes totalitarianism much more effectively.

shelleynarang's profile pic

shelleynarang | College Teacher | eNotes Newbie

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 The Lesson, if we see this play in the context of contemporary times, hints at the rigid system of education in collaboration with the corperate world. The play presents the idea that in this fast changing world, the weak, powerless and somewhat ignorant are knocked down and slashed by the mighty though non-sensical controllers of the society. The crime of the privileged class is not a crime, rather its just an attitude or method of dealing with other people.The professor is assisted by his professional maid to hide the crime committed inside the four closed walls.

The professor may be a misogynist also who is unable to understand his female pupils. there is little possibility of communication without presence of any kind of affinity between two people.  

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