Truth and Order in Ionesco's Bald Soprano Essay

Truth and Order in Ionesco's Bald Soprano Essay

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Truth and Order in Ionesco's Bald Soprano

 
    Any sense of order, of sense itself, is shattered and constantly questioned by Eugene Ionesco in his play "The Bald Soprano". A serious challenge is made against an absolute notion of truth. Characters throughout the play, however, continue to struggle to maintain and share a unified and orderly existence. Empiricism is espoused by several characters. They submit that life experience is all that is necessary to establish unshakable order and thus, truth. Mrs. Smith states, "Truth is never found in books, only in life" (29). While this empirical debate underscores the need for an unmediated knowledge of truth, Ionesco simultaneously undermines empiricism as a viable method of attaining it. On a basic level, order diminishes, deteriorates, and virtually disintegrates as the play proceeds.

 

            Empiricism is essentially deductive in nature; a logical premise is established from direct sensory experience. This method calls into question even the most commonplace assumptions. Nothing is accepted as given without sufficient proof. In this manner ordinary events like tying one's shoe or reading the newspaper in the subway are made to seem extraordinary. Each otherwise mundane experience contains a new vitality. Mr. Martin exclaims, "One sees things even more extraordinary every day, when one walks around" (22). The characters seem to lack a certain sense of familiarity (or boredom, perhaps) with such mundane events. Each experience, regardless of size or scope, force the characters to constantly remain in the process of reevaluating and refining the most basic assumptions upon which their lives are based. Mrs. Smith's incessant externalized inner monologue at the open...


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...le isolated statements cease to be intelligible. Ionesco's language late in the play is a language of non sequitirs and nonsense. Far from articulating a unified notion of truth, language unleashes the capacity to express a cacophony of voices and viewpoints. Unequivocal statements of any sort become virtually impossible because the power to negate them is embedded in the fabric of language itself. Ironically, as the play reaches its seemingly chaotic crescendo, Ionesco himself seems to submit to some vaguely cyclical notion of order. The dialogue of the players disintegrates and then reintegrates into a single sentence, thus allowing the play to begin again with new faces, but undoubtedly the same dramatic dénouement.

 

Works Cited

Ionesco, Eugene. "The Bald Soprano." Four Plays by Eugene Ionesco. Trans. Donald M. Allen. New York: Grove Weidenfeld, 1958.

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