The Power of Grotesque Realism and the Theatre of Carnivalesque: A Bakhtian Study of Rhinoceros by Eugene Ionesco


  • Anum Mirza Ph.D. Research Scholar, English Lovely Professional University, Punjab, India
  • Prof. Jayatee Bhattacharya Department of English, Lovely Professional University, Punjab, India


Abstract: The thorough and intensive review of literature of past and present clearly establishes the fact that no study is available on Eugene Ionesco from the perspective of Mikhail Bakhtin. Ionesco was a Romanian - French playwright who was greatly impacted by the ideas and philosophy of nihilism and death. Ionesco is regarded one of the prime figures of the French Avant-garde theatre. He ridiculed and uncovered the absurdity of human beings. His plays show the seclusion, isolation and irrelevance of human existence in a tangible way. Mikhail Bakhtin put forward the concept of “carnival” and treated it as the most innovative and ground-breaking current of modernity. Bakhtin guarded the carnivalesque literature since it unfetters human spirit and allow human beings to break away and escape from the tensions, anxieties and apprehensions of life. Eugene Ionesco wrote plays in imitation of Bakhtin, Rabelais and Dostoevsky since all his plays are loaded with the carnivalesque and Grotesque Realism. In this Paper the researcher has taken up the challenge to explore the hidden layers applying Bakhtin’s theories of “carnival, carnivalesque, and grotesque realism” in the play of Rhinoceros by Eugene Ionesco. In Ionesco’s Rhinoceros, Berenger the main protagonist obtains freedom from guilt, fretfulness and fear at the end of the play. Plays of Eugene Ionesco like Bald Soprano, Rhinoceros, and The Chairs, are packed with the elements of carnivalesque. After the World War II, Ionesco wrote Rhinoceros to explore the various destructive and harsh impacts of the Fascism, Holocaust, and the Nazi ideology. Here, Ionesco explored how people developed and changed into wild and ugly Rhinoceros. Ionesco takes pride in using weird, strange and bizarre distortions in order to attain grotesque realism in his plays. Ionesco utilized the tools of Grotesque Realism and carnival of Mikhail Bakhtin in order to expose and ridicule the conformist mind-set of people following Nazi ideology thoughtlessly and unseeingly. The plot of the play is packed and loaded with many episodes of love betrayal, unfaithfulness, violence, apathy, exploitation, and the loss of individuality using the tools of grotesque realism and the farcical elements of the comedy.


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How to Cite

Mirza, A., & Bhattacharya, P. J. (2019). The Power of Grotesque Realism and the Theatre of Carnivalesque: A Bakhtian Study of Rhinoceros by Eugene Ionesco. SMART MOVES JOURNAL IJELLH , 7(2), 11. Retrieved from