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Themes

It's really hard to tell what's real and what's not in The Chairs. As soon as you think you've got the world of the play figured out, Ionesco pulls the rug out from under you. By the end, audiences have been completely absorbed into the hallucinatory dream world of the Old Man and Woman. We leave the theater wondering if the elderly couple was crazy or if we are. The Chairs forces us to examine our own lives and wonder if they're real. How do we truly know fact from fiction? How can really know if we're awake or dreaming? Is there a difference? Does it matter?

Questions About Versions of Reality

  1. How do the door bells and boat sounds affect the audience's concept of reality in the play?
  2. Do you think the whole play is a dream, or are there really invisible people in the room?
  3. If this is all just fantasy, whose is it? The Old Man's? The Old Woman's? Both?
  4. Is the Orator really there, or is he part of the Old Man and Woman's hallucination?

Chew on This

Try on an opinion or two, start a debate, or play the devil’s advocate.

The old couple attempts to combat their isolation through the creation of a joint fantasy.

There is no true reality in the play, showing that everything is ultimately subjective.

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