from the plays of
Eugène Ionesco

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Rhinoceros

The Leader

Category:

Drama

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Rhinoceros

from Rhinoceros and Other Plays
translated by Derek Prouse

Copyright © 1960 by John Calder (Publishers) Ltd.

Act One

Logician:
Here is an example of a syllogism. The cat has four paws. Isidore and Fricot both have four paws. Therefore Isidore and Fricot are cats.

Old Gentleman:
My dog has got four paws.

Logician:
Then it’s a cat.

Topics:

Logic (examples)

Cats

Logician:
Another syllogism. All cats die. Socrates is dead. Therefore Socrates is a cat.

Old Gentleman:
And he’s got four paws. That’s true. I’ve got a cat named Socrates.

Logician:
There you are, you see . . .

Berenger:
That seems clear enough, but it doesn’t answer the question.

Logician:
Obviously, my dear sir, but now the problem is correctly posed.

Act Two Scene One

Botard:
I work on Sundays as well. I’ve no time for priests who do their utmost to get you to church, just to prevent you from working, and earning your daily bread by the sweat of your brow.

Papillion:
Oh!

Botard:
I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to offend you. The fact that I despise religion doesn’t mean I don’t esteem it highly.

Topic:

Religion

Scene Two

Jean:
I tell you it’s not as bad as all that. After all, rhinoceroses are living creatures the same as us; they’ve got as much right to life as we have!

Berenger:
As long as they don’t destroy ours in the process. You must admit the difference in mentality.

Jean:
Are you under the impression that our way of life is superior?

Berenger:
Well at any rate, we have our own moral standards which I consider incompatible with the standards of these animals.

Jean:
Moral standards! I’m sick of moral standards! We need to go beyond moral standards!

Berenger:
What would you put in their place?

Jean:
Nature!

Berenger:
Nature?

Jean:
Nature has its own laws. Morality’s against Nature.

Berenger:
Are you suggesting we replace our moral laws by the law of the jungle?

Jean:
It would suit me, suit me fine.

Berenger:
You say that. But deep down, no one . . .

Jean:
We’ve got to build our life on new foundations. We must get back to primeval integrity.

Topic:

Morality

Act Three

Dudard:
[...] I’m simply trying to look the facts unemotionally in the face. I’m trying to be realistic. I also contend that there is no real evil in what occurs naturally. I don’t believe in seeing evil in everything. I leave that to the inquisitors.

Berenger:
And you consider all this natural?

Dudard:
What could be more natural than a rhinoceros?

Berenger:
Yes, but for a man to turn into a rhinoceros is abnormal beyond question.

Dudard:
Well, of course, that’s a matter of opinion . . .

Berenger:
It is beyond question, absolutely beyond question!

Dudard:
You seem very sure of yourself. Who can say where the normal stops and the abnormal begins?

Daisy:
There’s no such thing as absolute right. It’s the world that’s right—not you and me.

Berenger:
[...] People who try to hang on to their individuality always come to a bad end!

Topic:

Individuality

text checked (see note) Jan 2005

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The Leader

from Rhinoceros and Other Plays
translated by Derek Prouse

Copyright © 1960 by John Calder (Publishers) Ltd.

Young Lover:
Forgive me, Madame, or should I say Mademoiselle?

Girl-Friend:
I beg your pardon, I’m afraid I don’t happen to know you!

Young Lover:
And I’m afraid I don’t know you either!

Girl-Friend:
Then neither of us knows each other.

Young Lover:
Exactly. We have something in common. It means that between us there is a basis of understanding on which we can build the edifice of our future.

Girl-Friend:
That leaves me cold, I’m afraid.

Young Lover:
Oh, my darling, I adore you.

Girl-Friend:
Darling, so do I!

Girl Admirer:
But . . . but . . . the leader hasn’t got a head!

Announcer:
What’s he need a head for when he’s got genius?

Topics:

Politicians

Genius

text checked (see note) Jan 2005

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Graphics copyright © 2003 by Hal Keen