by Eugene Ionesco
The Chairs Time Quotes
How we cite our quotes: Citations follow this format: (Line). Every time a character talks counts as one line, even if what they say turns into a long monologue. We used Donald M. Allen's translation.
Old Woman: "Come my darling, close the window. There's a bad smell from that stagnant water, and besides the mosquitoes are coming in." (2)
How significant is it that the water surrounding the house is stagnant? There are several places in the play where water is used as a metaphor for time. Could it be that the stagnant water suggests that time is frozen for the Old Man and his wife?
Old Woman: "Come, come my darling, come sit down. You shouldn't lean out, you might fall into the water." (4)
You could interpret this warning from the Old Woman as a comment on the cyclical nature of time. It seems significant that the Old Woman warns her husband about falling out the window. At the end of the play, both of them end up purposely throwing themselves into the water below. Might this happen every night and they simply forget about it? They might not necessarily die from the fall, and they do have terrible memories. Perhaps the Old Woman's warning comes from a dim recollection of the day before and shows that the elderly couple is trapped in a cyclical loop. Maybe they're stuck in an alternate reality in which they're doomed to repeat the same actions over and over.
Old Woman: "You know what happened to Francois I. You might be careful."
Old Man: Still more examples from history! Sweetheart, I'm tired of French history." (4-5)
The Old Woman follows up her warning about falling out of the window with a reference to French history. When the Old Man tells her he doesn't want to hear about history anymore, it makes us wonder if he's speaking about more than just the history of France. Could it be that he's referencing his and his wife's history as well? You could choose to interpret this line as an indication that some part of the Old Man is aware of the fact that he's stuck in a time loop. He could be somehow aware that he's been repeating the same actions over and over again and desperately wants to escape.