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The Chairs

The Chairs


by Eugene Ionesco

Analysis: What's Up With the Title?

The Chairs takes its name from the chairs that the Old Man and Old Woman set up for their invisible guests. The way these chairs are arranged is perhaps intended to remind the audience of the seats that they themselves are sitting in. The title of the play may highlight this even more in the audience's mind.

As we point out in our section on the theme "Art and Culture: The Theater," the entire play could be seen as a comment on the art of theater itself. When the Orator delivers the garbled message before the rows of chairs, the audience is reminded of the garbled language of the very play they've just watched. Just like The Chairs, the Orator's message offers no explanations. Both audiences, the invisible guests and the audience in the theater, are left only with questions.

Notice that these rows of seemingly empty chairs are the last image Ionesco leaves his audience with. What could these apparently vacant chairs possibly symbolize? Perhaps their emptiness is meant to highlight the emptiness of our lives. What do you think? What other meanings can be gleaned from these empty chairs?

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