From 11:00PM PDT on Friday, July 1 until 5:00AM PDT on Saturday, July 2, the Shmoop engineering elves will be making tweaks and improvements to the site. That means Shmoop will be unavailable for use during that time. Thanks for your patience!
We have changed our privacy policy. In addition, we use cookies on our website for various purposes. By continuing on our website, you consent to our use of cookies. You can learn about our practices by reading our privacy policy.
© 2016 Shmoop University, Inc. All rights reserved.
The Chairs

The Chairs

  

by Eugene Ionesco

The Chairs Theme of Versions of Reality

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.

People who Shmooped this also Shmooped...

Advertisement