| Quote #1
Mrs. Smith: "We've drunk the soup, and eaten the […] English salad. The children have drunk English water. We've eaten well this evening. That's because we live in the suburbs of London and because our name is Smith." (2)
So, why is Mrs. Smith telling her husband these things? What is she trying to communicate? Mr. Smith was around all evening. He ought to know what they've eaten. Well, it's widely recorded that Ionesco based The Bald Soprano on a language primer from which he was trying to learn English. He copied down lots of sentences like these in his studies. The book was filled with one obvious fact after another. Ionesco said that, "The very simple, luminously clear statements I had copied so diligently into my notebook, left to themselves, fermented after a while, lost their original identity, expanded and overflowed" (source). Perhaps, when these seemingly simple statements were repeated over and over again they began to take on new meanings. Perhaps, they began to mean nothing at all. Perhaps, it's both of these things at the same time.
| Quote #2
Stage Direction: Mr. Smith [continues to read, clicks his tongue] (3)
This stage direction is repeated over and over again throughout the first couple pages of the play. All the time Mrs. Smith is babbling about the things that have happened earlier that evening, Mr. Smith only reads and makes noises with his mouth. Is he really listening to her? Does he ever? Could this opening scene be suggesting that nobody ever really listens to anybody else?
| Quote #3
Mr. Smith: "Hm." [Silence.]
It some ways this is a pretty common day-to-day conversation. We've got two solid middle class couples and a friend, sitting around complaining about the bad economy and high taxes. Of course, in this case their friend is a Fire Chief, who is depressed because his business is doing poorly – there just aren't enough fires to put out. The whole situation is rendered totally absurd as the characters lump putting out fires into the same category as growing wheat and playing the stock market. We find the idea of "tariffs," or import taxes, on fire to be highly amusing. In any case, you see this kind of thing all through the play. Ionesco takes what would be a normal pretty cliché conversation and messes with our heads by giving it an Absurdist twist.