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The Chairs

The Chairs


by Eugene Ionesco

Analysis: Three Act Plot Analysis

For a three-act plot analysis, put on your screenwriter’s hat. Moviemakers know the formula well: at the end of Act One, the main character is drawn in completely to a conflict. During Act Two, she is farthest away from her goals. At the end of Act Three, the story is resolved.

Act I

The Old Man and Old Woman are hanging out in their house telling nonsensical stories. The Old Man claims that he has a message for the world. The act peaks as we learn that tons of people are showing up tonight to hear the message spoken by a professional Orator.

Act II

The guests begin to arrive. Of course, the weird thing is that they're all invisible. The invisible crowd gets bigger and bigger. Elated at the size of the throng, the Old Man and Woman scurry around, greeting them all and providing them with chairs. The act ends as the most honored invisible guest of all arrives – the Emperor.


Finally, the Orator shows up. He's played by a real actor. The Old Man gets all misty-eyed; the world will finally hear his message. He decides that his life is now complete, so he and his wife commit suicide by hurling themselves out the windows. It becomes apparent that this decision was a little premature. The Orator tries to communicate the message to the crowd but is hindered by the fact that he's a deaf-mute. Act III comes to its bitterly ironic conclusion as the frustrated Orator exits the stage.

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