Student Question

What are the themes in "The Lesson" by Eugene Ionesco?

Expert Answers

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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.

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