by Eugene Ionesco
The Chairs Theme of Isolation
The characters in The Chairs are totally alienated. Though the Old Man and Woman have spent their lives together, they both still feel alone. They try to come together through the creation of joint fantasies, but even these ultimately fail them in the end. The theme of isolation is seen quite often in the Theater of the Absurd. This type of theater is said to be inspired by the philosophy of Existentialism, which states that all human beings are inherently alone. According to the Existentialists, we are all alone in an unknowable universe. The only way we can bring meaning to our lives is to take responsibility for our own actions and to decide for ourselves what is meaningful.
Questions About Isolation
- If the Old Man and Woman have been together for so long, why do they feel so alone?
- What metaphors does the play use to express the characters' isolation?
- In what ways do the Old Man and Woman attempt to conquer their loneliness?
Chew on This
The old couple's isolation is a comment on the isolation of all humanity.
The fact that the old couple's bodies will be separated in death suggests that we all die alone.