The Frontier of Existence in Beckett’s Waiting for Godot and Ionesco’s Rhinoceros

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The Frontier of Existence in Beckett’s Waiting for Godot and Ionesco’s Rhinoceros

‘I feel that I had been at the frontier of existence, close to the place where they lose their names, their definition, the place where time stops, almost outside History’ (E Ionesco).

This essay will explore the frontier of existence in Beckett’s Waiting for Godot and Ionesco’s Rhinoceros

The title Rhinoceros is formed from the ancient Greek Rhino meaning nose and Keros meaning horn. However, in this play I take rhinoceros to mean an animal that is thick-skinned and ugly. The people who become rhinoceroses become as thick skinned as the rhinoceroses they turn into. On first viewing of Rhinoceros one journeys with the characters on what
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He calmly works out the pros and cons of everything. He seems to have the role of putting everything right and making sense out of a nonsensical situation. He gives all possible outcomes of the on-going argument about the number of rhinoceroses, the kind of rhinoceros whether Asiatic or African and the number of horns. He tries desperately to define and have control over everything. He probably becomes a rhinoceros in order to learn how the rhinoceroses think, in order to make them human again. His definition of a cat is: ‘All cats die. Socrates is dead. Therefore Socrates is a cat.’ (I:I P.16). If this logic is used the definition of a rhinoceros becomes even more vague. Previously the logician had been cooing at the cat saying ‘Puss puss puss’ (I:I P.18) and yet later on in Act I Daisy repeats these words to a rhinoceros which shows the acceptance of the rhinoceros; it is on a par with the domesticated cat; in other words it is nothing unusual for a society slowly changing into rhinoceroses, even though most people still have not changed. The definition of the rhinoceros has definitely changed, and will change further as the play continues.

By contrast Berenger is regarded as a hopeless alcoholic; a bit of a dreamer. But the play centres on Berenger who admits that he only feels himself when he has a drink. Because of his escapist nature one thinks he may be one of the first people to become a rhinoceros as he seems to lack self-control not

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