Publication Year

1977

Keywords

Literature, Berenger, Ionesco, writing, literary criticism

Disciplines

Comparative Literature | English Language and Literature

Abstract

In a late scene of Rhinoceros, in the midst of a heated discussion, with rhinoceroses surrounding them, Dudard charges his compatriot, Berenger, "You're a Don Quixote."

Eugene Ionesco features Berenger as his main character in four plays--The Killer, Exit the King, A Stroll in the Air, and Rhinoceros. Even though each character has the same name, I am not sure that Ionesco intended all the Berengers to be the same man. In fact, the views on this subject are quite varied. For example, Martin Esslin writes, "It may be that the Berenger of Rhinoceros is a younger Berenger" [than the Berenger of The Killer]. Jacques Guicharnaud, when writing about Jean in Hunger and Thirst, calls him Berenger "in his most recent incarnation." After discussing The Killer, Ienoard Pronko states that "we meet Berenger again in Rhinoceros...," suggesting quite simply that the two Berengers are, in fact, one. Each Beranger represents similar ideals which are important to Eugene Ionesco. It is for this reason that I chose my opening quote. Just as Don Quixote has come to stand for one always reaching for the impossible, so does Berenger come to exhibit similar ideals. By using the same name in several plays, Ionesco has drawn attention to characters who have certain common ideals which he feels are important.

Department 1 Awarding Honors Status

English: Literature and Writing

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