The Lesson



  • A one-act play for three characters by Eugène Ionesco,first seen in Paris in 1951. An early contribution to the Theatreof the Absurd, it is a paradoxical exploration of the relationshipbetween language and reality. A manic middle-aged professor givesan incoherent and rambling lecture on linguistics to a young student.As he overwhelms her with a torrent of words, she develops a terribletoothache, which he ignores. Then, as he rages on about the definitionof the word 'knife', the student suddenly collapses, stabbed to deathby the mere word. His maid rushes in to chastise him, reminding himthat this is his fortieth victim of the day. As they place the girl'sbody in a coffin, another student arrives at the door.