by Eugene Ionesco
The Chairs Versions of Reality 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 Man: "I want to see – the boats on the water making blots in the sunlight."
Old Woman: "You can't see them, there's no sunlight, it's nighttime, my darling." (5-6)
Already in the first few lines, the play is messing with our heads. The Old Man says it's one time of day and his wife says it's another. There's really no telling what is true and what is not. Reality is constantly shifting in this strange, distorted world. All this makes us wonder if anything around us is actually real. Is it all just a dream?
Old Woman: "Let's amuse ourselves by making believe, the way you did the other evening." (20)
The Old Man and his wife spend every evening playing pretend to relieve their boredom. This throws the reality of the whole play into question: when the invisible guests start to arrive later on, we wonder whether they are real or just part of the game.
Stage Directions: The Old Man and Old Woman re-enter together, leaving space between them for their guest. She is invisible. (159)
This is where questions of what's real and what isn't really get started in the play. Before the elderly couple re-enters the stage accompanied by the invisible Lady, we hear them greeting her offstage. We assume she'll be played by a real actor, just like the Old Man and Old Woman. When they come on speaking to an empty space, we immediately begin to wonder if these people are crazy, or if they can see something we can't.