Berenger, an average man who grew up in the small town where he now lives and works in a government office. Occasionally lazy but sometimes conscientious, he never seeks to distinguish himself. Although he is accused by his friend Jean of having slovenly habits (such as never shaving or wearing a tie and always arriving late), Berenger would like to fit into the conventional provincial society in which he grew up, to marry his coworker, Daisy, and to live a normal life. His inability to discount what his senses tell him ultimately puts him in the difficult position of being the last person on Earth not to go along with the crowd. Beneath his seemingly ordinary exterior, Berenger is basically decent, though insecure. In spite of his timidity and self-doubt, he is capable of enormous courage in resisting the rhinoceroses who have taken over the town. He is the only character in the entire play who is developed in three dimensions. As the “Everyman” protagonist of the play, he fights a brave but doomed battle against the pressure for him to give up his humanity.
Jean, Berenger’s coworker and best friend. Determined to succeed, he frequently notices how others (especially Berenger) do not come up to the highest standards of conduct or professional behavior. A perfectionist with ambition, Jean will perhaps do more than most in order to succeed.
Daisy, another of Berenger’s coworkers and the object of Berenger’s affection. Although he constantly addresses her as Miss Daisy, out of respect, she seems to share in Berenger’s warm feelings. Daisy tries hard to resist the rhinoceros invaders and puts up a good fight, but ultimately she is attracted to them and abandons (and repudiates) Berenger.
Dudard, another of Berenger’s coworkers and, at the age of thirty-five, the man most likely to be promoted next. Diplomatic and eager to advance, Dudard tries to ignore the threat of the rhinoceroses until he serves as an accessory to them and then becomes one of them.
(The entire section contains 535 words.)
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- Critical Essays