Margot (midnight_birth) wrote in margot_quotes,

Rhinoceros by Eugène Ionesco.


Title: Rhinoceros.
Author: Eugène Ionesco (translated by Derek Prouse).
Genre: Literature, fiction, plays, politics, satire, social criticism, philosophical fiction.
Country: Düsseldorf.
Language: French.
Publication Date: 1959.
Summary: A rhinoceros suddenly appears in a small town, tramping through its peaceful streets. Soon there are two, then three, until the "movement" is universal: a transformation of average citizens into beasts, as they learn to "move with the times." Finally, only one man remains. A commentary on the absurdity of the human condition made tolerable only by self-delusion, the play shows the struggle of the individual to maintain integrity and identity alone in a world where all others have succumbed to the "beauty" of brute force, natural energy, and mindlessness.

My rating: 8.5/10.
My review:

♥ JEAN: You're day-dreaming.
BERENGER: But I'm wide awake.
JEAN: Awake or asleep, it's the same thing.
BERENGER: But there is some difference.
JEAN: That's not the point.
BERENGER: But you just said being awake and being asleep were the same thing...
JEAN: You didn't understand. There's no difference between dreaming awake and dreaming asleep.
BERENGER: I do dream. Life is a dream.

♥ BERENGER: It would never have entered my mind.
JEAN: You have no mind!
BERENGER: All the more reason why it would never enter it.
JEAN: There are certain things which enter the minds of even people without one.

♥ BERENGER: I don't like the taste of alcohol much. And yet if I don't think, I'm done for; it's as if I'm frightened, and so I drink not to be frightened any longer.
JEAN: Frightened of what?
BERENGER: I don't know exactly. It's a sort of anguish difficult to describe. I feel out of place in life, among people, and so I take to drink. That calms me down and relaxes me so I can forget.
JEAN: You try to escape from yourself!
BERENGER: I'm so tired, I've been tired for years. It's exhausting to drag the weight of my own body about...
JEAN: That's alcoholic neurasthenia, drinker's gloom...
BERENGER: [continuing] I'm conscious of my body all the time, as if it were made of lead, or as if I were carrying another man around on my back. I can't seem to get used to myself. I don't even know if I am me. Then as soon as I take a drink, the lead slips away and I recognize myself, I become me again.

♥ JEAN: ..How can you be oppressed by something that doesn't exist?
BERENGER: I sometimes wonder if I exist myself.
JEAN: You don't exist, my dear Berenger, because you don't think. Start thinking, then you will.

♥ GROCER: Well, it may be logical...

[At this moment the HOUSEWIFE comes out of the café in deep mourning, and carrying a box; she is followed by DAISY and the WAITRESS as if for a funeral. The cortège moves towards the right exit.] may be logical, but are we going to stand for our cats being run down under our very eyes by one-horned rhinoceroses or two, whether they're Asiatic or African? [He indicates with a theatrical gesture the cortège which is just leaving.]
PROPRIETOR: He's absolutely right! We're not standing for our cats being run down by rhinoceroses or anything else!

♥ ..When the curtain rises the characters remain fixed for a few seconds in position for the first line of dialogue. They make a tableau vivant. The same effect marks the beginning of the first act.

♥ BOTARD: former schoolteacher; short, he has a proud air, and wears a little white moustache; a brisk sixty year-old: [he knows everything, understands everything, judges everything].

♥ PAPILLON: 'Yesterday, just before lunch time, in the church square of our town, a cat was trampled to death by a pachyderm.'
DAISY: It wasn't exactly in the church square.
PAPILLON: That's all it says. No other details.
DUDARD: Well, that's clear enough.
BOTARD: I never believe journalists. They're all liars. I don't need them to tell me what to think; I believe what I see with my own eyes. Speaking as a former teacher, I like things to be precise, scientifically valid; I've got a methodical mind.
DUDARD: What's a methodical mind got to do with it?
DAISY: [to BOTARD] I think it's stated very precisely, Mr. Botard.
BOTARD: You call that precise? And what, pray, does it mean by a pachyderm? What does the editor of a dead cats column understand by a pachyderm? He doesn't say. And what does he mean by a cat?
DUDARD: Everybody knows what a cat is.
BOTARD: Does it concern a male cat or a female? What breed was it? And what colour? The colour bar is something I feel strongly about. I hate it.
PAPILLON: What has the colour bar to do with it, Mr. Botard? It's quite beside the point.
BOTARD: Please forgive me, Mr. Papillon. But you can't deny that the colour problem is one of the great stumbling blocks of our time.
DUDARD: I know that, we all know that, but it has nothing to do with...
BOTARD: It's not an issue to be dismissed lightly, Mr. Dudard. The course of history has shown that racial prejudice...
DUDARD: I tell you it doesn't enter into it.
BOTARD: I'm not so sure.
PAPILLON: The colour bar is not the issue at stake.
BOTARD: One should never miss an occasion to denounce it.

♥ 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.
PAPILLON: [indignant] 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.

[Meanwhile the rhinoceros has continued its trumpeting. MRS. BOEUF has risen and joined the group. For a few moments she stares fixedly at the rhinoceros turning round and round and round below; suddenly she lets out a terrible cry.]

MRS. BOEUF: My God! It can't be true!
BERENGER: [to MRS. BOEUF] What's the matter?
MRS. BOEUF: It's my husband. Oh Boeuf, my poor Boeuf, what's happened to you?
BERENGER: [to MRS. BOEUF] Are you positive?
MRS. BOEUF: I recognize him, I recognize him!

[The rhinoceros replies with a violent but tender trumpeting]

PAPILLON: Well! That's the last straw. This time he's fired for good!
...MRS. BOEUF: [preparing to jump; on the edge of the landing] I'm coming, my darling, I'm coming!
BERENGER: She's going to jump.
BOTARD: It's no more than her duty.
DUDARD: She can't do that.

[Everyone with the exception of DAISY, who is still telephoning, is near to MRS. BOEUF on the landing; she jumps; BERENGER who tries to restrain her, is left with her skirt in his hand.]

BERENGER: I couldn't hold her back.

[The rhinoceros is heard from below, tenderly trumpeting.]

VOICE OF MRS. BOEUF: Here I am, my sweet, I'm here now.
DUDARD: She landed on his back in the saddle.
BOTARD: She's a good rider.
VOICE OF MRS. BOEUF: Home now, dear, let's go home.
DUDARD: They're off at a gallop.

♥ DAISY: No, there aren't any fires, and firemen have been called out for other rhinoceroses.
BERENGER: For other rhinoceroses?
DAISY: Yes, other rhinoceroses. They've been reported all over the town. This morning there were seven, now there are seventeen.
..DUDARD: Well, Mr. Botard, do you still deny all rhinocerotic evidence?
..BOTARD: [to DUDARD] No, Mr. Dudard, I do not deny the rhinocerotic evidence. I never have.

♥ BOTARD: There's going to be some big changes made; they won't get away with it as easily as that.
DUDARD: That doesn't mean anything, Mr. Botard. The rhinoceroses exist, and that's that. That's all there is to it.

♥ BERENGER: [continuing] In the final analysis it doesn't much matter which comes from where. The important thing is, as I see it, is the fact that they're there at all...

♥ BERENGER: You shouldn't reject medical advice.
JEAN: Doctors invent illnesses that don't exist.
BERENGER: They do it in good faith—just for the pleasure of looking after people.
JEAN: They invent illnesses, they invent them, I tell you.
BERENGER: Perhaps they do—but aft er they invent them they cure them.

♥ JEAN: ..Well, whether he changes into a rhinoceros on purpose or against his will, he's probably all the better for it.
BERENGER: How can you say a thing like that? Surely you don't think...
JEAN: You always see the black side of everything. It obviously gave him great pleasure to turn into a rhinoceros. There's nothing extraordinary in that.
BERENGER: There's nothing extraordinary in it, but I doubt if it gave him much pleasure.
JEAN: And why not, pray?
BERENGER: It's hard to say exactly why; it's just something you feel.
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: [pacing up and down the room, and in and out of the bathroom] 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: [still pacing] 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:[interrupting him, pacing up and down] We've got to build our life on new foundations. We must get back to primeval integrity.
BERENGER: I don't agree with you at all.
JEAN: [breathing noisily] I can't breathe.
BERENGER: Just think a moment. You must admit that we have a philosophy that animals don't share, and an irreplaceable set of values, which it's taken centuries of human civilization to build up...
JEAN: [in the bathroom] When we've demolished all that, we'll be better off!
BERENGER: I know you don't mean that seriously. You're joking! It's just poetic fancy.
JEAN: Brrr. [He almost trumpets.]
..BERENGER: You wouldn't like to be a rhinoceros yourself, now would you?
JEAN: Why not? I'm not a victim of prejudice like you.
BERENGER: Can you speak more clearly? I didn't catch what you said. You swallowed the words.
JEAN: [still in the bathroom] Then keep your ears open.
JEAN: Keep your ears open. I said what's wrong with being a rhinoceros? I'm all for change.
BERENGER: It's not like you to say a thing like that...

[BERENGER stops short, for JEAN'S appearance is truly alarming. JEAN has become, in fact, completely green. The bump on his forehead is practically a rhinoceros horn.]

Oh! You really must be out of your mind!

♥ BERENGER: [rushing to the stairs] Porter, porter, there's a rhinoceros in the house, get the police! Porter!

[The upper part of the porter's lodge is seen to open; the head of a rhinoceros appears.]


[BERENGER rushes upstairs again. He wants to go back into JEAN'S room, hesitates, then makes for the door of the OLD MAN again. At this moment the door of the room opens to reveal two rhinoceros heads.]

Oh, my God!

[BERENGER goes back to JEAN'S room where the bathroom door is still shaking. He goes to the window which is represented simply by the frame, facing the audience. He is exhausted, almost fainting; he murmurs.]

My God! Oh my God!

[He makes a gigantic effort, and manages to get astride the window (that is, towards the audience) but gets back again quickly, for at the same time, crossing the orchestra pit at great speed, move a large number of rhinoceros heads in line. BERENGER gets back with all speed, looks out of the window for a moment.]

There's a whole herd of them in the street now! An army of rhinoceroses, surging up the avenue...! [He looks all around.] Where can I get out? If only they'd keep to the middle of the road! They're all over the pavement as well. Where can I get out? Where can I get out?

[Distracted, he goes from door to door and to the window, whilst the bathroom door continues to shake and JEAN continues to trumpet and hurl incomprehensible insults. This continues for some moments; whenever BERENGER in his disordered attempts to escape reaches the door of the Old People's flat or the stairway, he is greeted by rhinoceros heads which trumpet and cause him to beat a hasty retreat. He goes to the window for the last time and looks out.]

A whole herd of them! And they always said the rhinoceros was a solitary animal! That's not true, that's a conception they'll have to revise! They've smashed up all the public benches. [He wrings his hands.] What's to be done?

[He goes once more to the various exits, but the spectacle of the rhinoceros halts him. When he gets back to the bathroom door it seems about to give way. BERENGER throws himself against the back wall, which yields; the street is visible in the background; he flees, shouting:]

Rhinoceros! Rhinoceros!

[Noises. The bathroom door is on the point of yielding.]

♥ DUDARD: I realize it must have been a shock to you.
BERENGER: Well, that's not surprising, you must admit.
DUDARD: I suppose so, but you mustn't dramatize the situation; it's no reason for you to...
BERENGER: I wonder how you'd have felt. Jean was my best friend. Then to watch him change before my eyes, and the way he got so furious!
DUDARD: I know. You felt let down; I understand. Try and not think about it.
BERENGER: How can I help thinking about it? He was such a warm-hearted person, always so human! Who'd have thought it of him! We'd known each other for... for donkey's years. He was the last person I'd have expected to change like that. I felt more sure of him than of myself! And then to do that to me!
DUDARD: I'm sure he didn't do it specially to annoy you!
BERENGER: It seemed as if he did. If you'd seen the state he was in... the expression on his face...
DUDARD: It's just that you happened to be with him at the time. It would have been the same no matter who was there.
BERENGER: But after all our years toge5her he might have controlled himself in front of me.
DUDARD: You think everything revolves round you, you think that everything that happens concerns you personally; you're not the centre of the universe, you know.
BERENGER: Perhaps you're right. I must try to re-adjust myself, but the phenomenon in itself is so disturbing. To tell the truth, it absolutely shatters me. What can be the explanation?

♥ BERENGER: Jean was very proud, of course. I'm not ambitious at all. I'm content to be what I am.
DUDARD: Perhaps he felt a urge for some fresh air, the country, the wide-open spaces... perhaps he felt a need to relax. I'm not saying that's any excuse...
BERENGER: I understand what you mean, at least I'm trying to. But you know—if someone accused me of being a bad sport, or hopelessly middle class, or completely out of touch with life, I'd still want to stay as I am.
DUDARD: We'll all stay as we are, don't worry. So why get upset over a few cases of rhinoceritis.

♥ DUDARD: Look, Berenger, you're being ridiculous, you invent difficulties for yourself, you ask yourself the weirdest questions... I remember you said yourself that the best protection against the thing was will-power.
BERENGER: Yes, I did.
DUDARD: Well then, prove you've got some.
BERENGER: I have, I assure you...
DUDARD: Prove it to yourself—now, don't drink any more brandy. You'll feel more sure of yourself then.
BERENGER: You deliberately misunderstand me. I told you the only reason I take it is because it keeps the worst at bay; I'm doing it quite deliberately. When the epidemic's over, then I shall stop drinking. I'd already decided that before the whole business began. I'm just putting it off for the time being!
DUDARD: You're inventing excuses for yourself.
BERENGER: Do you think I am...? In any case, that's got nothing to do with what's happening now.
DUDARD: How do we know?
BERENGER: [alarmed] Do you really think so? You think that's how rot sets in? I'm not an alcoholic.

♥ BERENGER: I feel responsible for everything that happens. I feel involved, I just can't be indifferent.
DUDARD: Judge not lest ye be judged. If you start worrying about everything that happens you'd never be able to go on living.

♥ DUDARD: Then face the facts and get over it. This is the situation and there's nothing you can do about it.
BERENGER: That's fatalism.
DUDARD: It's common sense. When a thing like this happens there's bound to be a reason for it. That's what we must find out.
BERENGER: [getting up] Well, I don't want to accept the situation.
DUDARD: What else can you do?

♥ DUDARD: ..In any case, I still think it's not all that serious. I consider it's silly to get worked up because a few people decide to change their skins. They just didn't feel happy in the ones they had. They're free to do as they like.
BERENGER: We must attack the evil at the roots.
DUDARD: The evil! That's just a phrase! Who knows what is evil and what is good? It's just a question of personal preferences. You're worried about your own skin—that's the truth of the matter. But you'll never become a rhinoceros, really you won't... you haven't got the vocation!
BERENGER: There you are, you see! If our leaders and fellow citizens all think like you, they'll never take any action.
DUDARD: You wouldn't want to ask for help from abroad, surely? This is an internal affair, it only concerns our country.
BERENGER: I believe in international solidarity...
DUDARD: You're a Don Quixote. Oh, I don't mean that nastily, don't be offended! I'm only saying it for your own good, because you really need to calm down.
BERENGER: You're right, I know—forgive me. I get too worked up. But I'll change, I will change.

♥ BERENGER: [raising his arms to heaven] Oh that's awful... Mr. Papillon! And he had such a good job.
DUDARD: That proves his metamorphoses was sincere.
BERENGER: He couldn't have done it on purpose. I'm certain it must have been involuntary.
DUDARD: How can we tell? It's hard to know the real reasons for people's decisions.

♥ BERENGER: [ironically] And you're too tolerant, far too broad-minded!
DUDARD: My dear Berenger, one must always make an effort to understand. And in order to understand a phenomenon and its effects you need to work back to the initial causes, by honest intellectual effort. We must try to do this because, after all, we are thinking beings. I haven't yet succeeded, as I told you, and I don't know if I shall succeed. But in any case one has to start out favourably disposed—or at least, impartial; one has to keep an open mind—that's essential to a scientific mentality. Everything is logical. To understand is to justify.
BERENGER: You'll be siding with the rhinoceroses before long.
DUDARD: No, no, not at all. I wouldn't go that far. 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? Can you personally define these conceptions of normality and abnormality? Nobody has solved this problem yet, either medically or philosophically. You ought to know that.
BERENGER: The problem may not be resolved philosophically—but in practice it's simple. They may prove there's no such thing as movement... and then you start walking... [He starts walking up and down the room.] ...and you go on walking, and you say to yourself, like Galileo, "E pur si muove"...
DUDARD: You're getting things all mixed up! Don't confuse the issue. In Galileo's case it was the opposite: theoretic and scientific thought proving itself superior to mass opinion and dogmatism.
BERENGER: [quite lost] What does all that mean? Mass opinion, dogmatism—they're just words! I may be mixing everything up in my head but you're losing yours. You don't know what's normal and what isn't any more. I couldn't care less about Galileo... I don't give a damn about Galileo.
DUDARD: You brought him up in the first place and raised the whole question, saying that practice always had the last word. Maybe it does, but only when it proceeds from theory! The history of thought and science proves that.
BERENGER: [more and more furious] It doesn't prove anything of the sort! It's all gibberish, utter lunacy!
DUDARD: There again we need to define exactly what we mean by lunacy...
BERENGER: Lunacy is lunacy and that's all there is to it! Everybody knows what lunacy is. And what about the rhinoceroses—are they practice or are they theory?
BERENGER: How do you mean—both?
DUDARD: Both the one and the other, or one or the other. It's a debatable point!
BERENGER: Well in that case... I refuse to think about it!
DUDARD: You're getting all het up. Our opinions may not exactly coincide but we can still discuss the matter peaceably. These things should be discussed.

♥ DAISY: He seemed very sincere; sincerity itself.
BERENGER: Did he give any reasons?
DAISY: What he said was: we must move with the times! Those were his last human words.

♥ BERENGER: ..His firmness was only a pose. Which doesn't stop him from being a good man, of course. Good men make good rhinoceroses, unfortunately. It's because they are so good that they get taken in.

♥ BERENGER: It's the rhinoceroses with the anarchic, because they're in the minority.
DUDARD: They are, it's true—for the moment.
DAISY: They're a pretty big minority, and getting bigger all the time. My cousin's a rhinoceros now, and his wife. Not to mention leading personalities like the Cardinal de Retz...
DUDARD: A prelate!
DAISY: Mazarin.
DUDARD: This is going to spread to other countries, you'll see.
BERENGER: And to think it all started with us!
DAISY: ...and some of the aristocracy. The Duke of St. Simon.
BERENGER: [with uplifted arms] All our great names!
DAISY: And others, too. Lots of others. Maybe a quarter of the whole town.
BERENGER: We're still in the majority. We must take advantage of that. We must do something before we're inundated.
DUDARD: They're very potent, very.

♥ DAISY [to BERENGER] You get used to it, you know. Nobody seems surprised any more to see herds of rhinoceroses galloping through the streets. They just stand aside, and then carry on as if nothing had happened.
DUDARD: It's the wisest course to take.
BERENGER: Well I can't get used to it.
DUDARD: [reflectively] I wonder if one oughtn't to give it a try?

♥ BERENGER: [to DUDARD] Man is superior to the rhinoceros.
DUDARD: I didn't say he wasn't. But I'm not with you absolutely either. I don't know; only experience can tell.
BERENGER: [to DUDARD] You're weakening too, Dudard. It's just a passing phase which you'll regret.
DAISY: If it's just a passing phase then there's no great danger.
DUDARD: I feel certain scruples! I feel it's my duty to stick by my employers and my friends, through thick and thin.
BERENGER: It's not as if you were married to them.
DUDARD: I've renounced marriage. I prefer the great universal family to the little domestic one.
DAISY: [softly] We shall miss you a lot, Dudard, but we can't do anything about it.
DUDARD: It's my duty to stick by them; I have to do my duty.
BERENGER: No you're wrong, your duty is to... you don't see where your real duty lies... your duty is to oppose them, with a firm, clear mind.
DUDARD: I shall keep my mind clear. [He starts to move round the stage in circles.] As clear as ever it was. But if you're going to criticize, it's better to do so from the inside. I'm not going to abandon them. I won't abandon them.
DAISY: He's very good-hearted.
BERENGER: He's too good-hearted. [To DUDARD, then dashing to the door:] You're too good-hearted, you're human. [To DAISY:] Don't let him go. He's making a mistake. He's human.

♥ BERENGER: He's joined up with them. Where is he now?
DAISY: [moving to the window] With them.
BERENGER: Which one is he?
DAISY: You can't tell. You can't recognize him any more.
BERENGER: They all look alike, all alike.

♥ BERENGER: ..Ah, happiness is such an egotistical thing!
DAISY: You have to fight for happiness, don't you agree?

♥ DAISY: ..We don't wish anyone any harm. And no one wishes us any, my dear.
BERENGER: Sometimes one does harm without meaning to, or rather one allows it to go unchecked.

♥ DAISY: ..You must forget all those bad memories.
BERENGER: But they keep coming back to me. They're very real memories.
DAISY: I never knew you were such a realist—I thought you were more poetic. Where's your imagination? There are many sides to reality. Choose the one that's best for you. Escape into the world of imagination.

♥ DAISY: ..We're good, both of us.
BERENGER: That's true, you're good and I'm good. That's true.
DAISY: Well then we have the right to live. We even owe ourselves a duty to be happy in spite of everything. Guilt is a dangerous symptom. It shows a lack of purity.
BERENGER: You're right, it can lead to that... [He points to the window under which the rhinoceroses are passing and to the up-stage wall where another rhinoceros head appears.] ...a lot of them started like that!
DAISY: We must try and not feel guilty any more.

♥ BERENGER: Listen, Daisy, there is something we can do. We'll have children, and our children will have children—it'll take time, but together we can regenerate the human race.
DAISY: Regenerate the human race?
BERENGER: It happened once before.
DAISY: Ages ago. Adam and Eve... They had a lot of courage.
BERENGER: And we, too, can have courage. We don't need all that much. It happens automatically with time and patience.
DAISY: What's the use?
BERENGER: Of course we can—with a little bit of courage.
DAISY: I don't want to have children—it's a bore.
BERENGER: How can we save the world, if you don't?
DAISY: Why bother to save it?
BERENGER: What a thing to say! Do it for me, Daisy. Let's save the world.
DAISY: After all, perhaps it's we who need saving. Perhaps we're the abnormal ones.
BERENGER: You're not yourself, Daisy, you've got a touch of fever.
DAISY: There aren't any more of our kind about anywhere, are there?
BERENGER: Daisy, you're not to talk like that!

[DAISY looks all around at the rhinoceros heads on the walls, on the landing door, and now starting to appear along the footlights.]

DAISY: Those are the real people. They look happy. They're content to be what they are. They don't look insane. They look very natural. They were right to do what they did.
BERENGER: [clasping his hands and looking despairingly at DAISY] We're the ones who are doing right, Daisy, I assure you.
DAISY: That's very presumptuous of you!
BERENGER: You know perfectly well I'm right.
DAISY: There's no such thing as absolute right. It's the world that's right—not you and me.

♥ DAISY: I feel a bit ashamed of what you call love—this morbid feeling, this male weakness. And female, too. It just doesn't compare with the ardour and the tremendous energy emanating from all these creatures around us.

♥ DAISY: ..Listen, they're singing!
BERENGER: They're not singing, they're roaring.
DAISY: They're singing.
BERENGER: They're roaring, I tell you.
DAISY: You're mad, they're singing.
BERENGER: You can't have a very musical ear, then.
DAISY: You don't know the first thing about music, poor dear—and look, they're playing as well, and dancing.
BERENGER: You call that dancing?
DAISY: It's their way of dancing. They're beautiful.
BERENGER: They're disgusting!
DAISY: You're not to say unpleasant things about them. It upsets me.
BERENGER: I'm sorry. We're not going to quarrel on their account.
DAISY: They're like gods.

♥ DAISY: Now you mustn't be nasty.
BERENGER: Then don't you be stupid!
DAISY: [to BERENGER, who turns his back on her. He looks at himself closely in the mirror.] It's no longer possible for us to live together.

[As BERENGER continues to examine himself in the mirror she goes quietly to the door, saying:]

He isn't very nice, really, he isn't very nice. [She foes out, and is seen slowly descending the stairs.]
BERENGER: [still looking at himself in the mirror] Men aren't so bad-looking, you know. And I'm not a particularly handsome specimen! Believe me, Daisy! [He turns round.] Daisy! Daisy! Where are you, Daisy? You can't do that to me! [He darts to the door.] Daisy! [He gets to the landing and leans over the banister.] Daisy! Come back! Come back, my dear! You haven't even had your lunch. Daisy, don't leave me alone! Remember your promise! Daisy! Daisy!

♥ BERENGER: ..But they won't get me. [He carefully closes the windows.] You won't get me! [He addresses all the rhinoceros heads.] I'm not joining you; I don't understand you! I'm staying as I am. I'm a human being. A human being.

♥ BERENGER: ..But what language do I speak? What is my language? Am I talking French? Yes, it must be French. But what is French? I can call it French if I want, and nobody can say it isn't—I'm the only one who speaks it. What am I saying? Do I understand what I'm saying? Do I? [He crosses to the middle of the room.] And what if it's true what Daisy said, and they're the ones in the right? [He turns back to the mirror.] A man's not ugly to look at, not ugly at all! [He examines himself, passing his hand over his face.] What a funny-looking thing! What do I look like? What? [He darts to a cupboard, takes out some photographs which he examines.] Photographs! Who are all these people? Is it Mr. Papillon—or is it Daisy? And is that Botard or Dudard or Jean? Or is it me? [He rushes to the cupboard again and takes out two or three pictures.] Now I recognize me: that's me, that's me! [He hangs the pictures on the back wall, beside the rhinoceros heads.] That's me! That's me!

[When he hangs the pictures one sees that they are of an old man, a huge woman, and another man. The ugliness of these pictures is in contrast to the rhinoceros heads which have become very beautiful. BERENGER steps back to contemplate the pictures.]

I'm not good-looking, I'm not good-looking. [He takes down the pictures, throws them furiously to the ground, and goes over to the mirror.] They're the good-looking ones. I was wrong! Oh, how I wish I was like them! I haven't got any horns, more's the pity! A smooth brow looks so ugly. I need one or two horns to give my sagging face a lift. Perhaps one will grow and I needn't be ashamed any more—then I could go and join them. But it will never grow! [He looks at the palms of his hands.] My hands are so limp—oh, why won't they get rough! [He takes his coat off, undoes his shirt to look at his chest in the mirror.] My skin is so slack. I can't stand this white, hairy body. Oh I'd love to have a hard skin in that wonderful dull green colour—a skin that looks decent naked without any hair on it, like theirs! [He listens to the trumpeting.] Their song is charming—a bit raucous perhaps, but it does have charm! I wish I could do it! [He tries to imitate them.] Ahh, Ahh, Brr! No, that's not it! Try again, louder! Ahh, Ahh, Brr! No, that's not it, it's too feeble, it's got no drive behind it. I'm not trumpeting at all; I'm just howling. Ahh, Ahh, Brr. There's a big difference between howling and trumpeting. I've only myself to blame; I should have gone with them while there was still time. Now it's too late! Now I'm a monster, just a monster. Now I'll never become a rhinoceros, never, never! I've gone past changing. I want to, I really do, but I can't, I just can't. I can't stand the sight of me. I'm too ashamed! [He turns his back on the mirror.] I'm so ugly! People who try to hang on to their individuality always come to a bad end! [He suddenly snaps out of it.] Oh well, too bad! I'll take on the whole of them! I'll put up a fight against the lot of them, the whole lot of them! I'm the last man left, and I'm staying that way until the end. I'm not capitulating!
Tags: 1950s - fiction, 1950s - plays, 20th century - fiction, 20th century - plays, addiction (fiction), fiction, foreign lit, french - fiction, french - plays, literature, philosophical fiction, plays, political dissent (fiction), politics (fiction), romanian - fiction, romanian - plays, satire, social criticism (fiction), translated

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