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Rhinoceros is a play by Eugene Ionesco depicting a common view that is considered nonsensical, irrelevant, and irrational. The senselessness of characters, except Berenger, is quite evident, especially in the first two acts. People's responses when they see two rhinoceroses are very ridiculous when they scream simultaneously at the rhinoceros (Act 1). These people make very similar statements and lack the capacity to make original assessments and conclusions. Instead, they appear to represent the mass mind at work as they each copy the actions and words of another person instead of making an individual stand. People are turning into rhinoceroses to have collective bargaining for their rights and have the power to fight against the authoritative leaders especially in Nazi Germany.
The rhinoceroses are not human characters but represents human savagery and capacity to engage in violence as they fight for their rights. When human beings are oppressed, they need to have a common voice in which they form a group that can speak uniformly for their rights. The characters are fond of repeating the statements of others and agreeing in union such as in act one in which they shout _x0093_Well, of all things_x0094_ (act 1). This shows that man tends to have collective consciousness towards safety in numbers and although they become hostile, they have the power to fight for their resources and other issues in the society. The majority tend to win over minority and being in a group that shares a common goal helps in achieving targeted goals. In the play, the grouping and tendency to be in a group represents Nazism in Germany, which was seductive to people that doubted their own will and strength. Mass opinion has power to influence a community, society, or nation. When people form groups that have a similar opinion, they can bring down an abusive system of governance and acquire their rights and freedom.
The rhinoceros_x0092_s epidemic can be seen as an, allegory representing the mass uprising of fascism and Nazism in pre and post World War II in Germany. However, at the end of the play turning into rhinoceros seems to benefit the masses. Lonesco does not criticize Nazism brutality throughout the play since towards the end the rhinos become prettier. They finally overshadow humanity ugliness although the author supports the idea that ignoring fascism and allowing it to continue is very harmful just like direct violence. The author is exploring the weaknesses and the way of thinking of individuals, that succumbed to Nazism easily. These people portray a universal consciousness in which the capacity to think individually is subverted. People tend to act as a group agreeing to the general opinion surrounding them and beginning thinking as a group _x0093_Good men make good rhinoceroses_x0094_ Act 2). In the play, the characters are repeating and agreeing to everything the others have said earlier or argue the same thing simultaneously. It is clear that whenever some individuals such as those in authority collapse, the remaining justify the metamorphosis and consider it quite desirable. The metamorphoses can be equated with ideas of Nazism and its power to infect the mind of human beings. However, this gives them power and strength as a group to fight for their rights showing that unity can have great achievement for a group.
In the play, the grouping relates to the theory of behaviorism in which people come together and conform to similar aptitudes with an aim of achieving a certain objective. When Dudard and Daisy join rhinoceroses, they become transformed and their attitude changes after which they alter their moral responsibility and ability to think individually. When individuals speak with one voice they can succeed in eliminating abusive power and attain their liberty. Individuals transform into rhinoceros and those that do not as Berenger are left on their own. The behavior in humans is influenced by the tendency to be in association with others forming communities and societies for a common good. This also defines the concept of free will and the universal mentality that interferes with individuals_x0092_ minds. As the group enlarges, the rhinoceroses become more powerful and town people begin strategizing on ways of fighting them _x0093_ideologies separate us. Dreams and anguish bring us together_x0094_ Act 3). This quote indicates that when people are united, they tend to defend themselves and enlighten their future. Fighting against the group of rhinos is becoming difficult for logical citizens since the former have become more successful. The transformation in Rhinoceros differs from that in The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka since in the former, people turn into rhinoceroses and become more powerful while in the latter, Gregor turns into an insect becoming very weak and powerless. The two are similar since the characters turn into animals and lose their human posture. Gregor turns into a cockroach while people in Rhinoceros become rhinoceroses.
The play depicts increased inhuman totalitarianism and fascism during the WWI. Conformity is evident in which individuals accept the doctrine of fanaticism and the author explores the ability of people to succumb to general opinion. The people imitate others_x0092_ theories and ideas and tend to share a common opinion. They become rhinoceros to gain power and strength over the opponents, which makes them to emerge successful as the play ends. They become more beautiful than humans do. This shows that forming groupings with people sharing a common interest is a wise decision.
Ionesco, Eugène. Rhinoceros and Other Plays. Vol. 259. Grove Press, 1960.
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