Say no to legal access to abortion
Ionesco’s Rhinoceros and the Legal Access to Abortion
[Student’s Full Name]
The Rhinoceros in the play is the most significant force in the play, both figurative and speaking. The idea of such animal trampling a town, and altering the lives of a whole community is utterly absurd. However, used as a literary device, it hits the nail on its head and conveys the true nature of human beings. That is why Ionesco’s plays hold such a prominent place in the modern European Theater, as they are capable of using the most bizarre devices to show humans and their struggles. The play depicts the savagery and fear that lie latent in the human mind, and how they are capable of show themselves as soon as a situation changes the way they conceive life.
That way, by criticizing the narrowness of people’s minds, the author shows how despite all the pretensions the characters might have, human reasoning is meaningless. If the play serves us as a door to Ionesco’s thought; it seems that to him human thinking is incapable of bringing order to the chaos of our mind. Using the irrationality contained in the play, we shall show how the legal access to abortion can be argued against. In the same way, we shall draw parallels between the issue of becoming a rhinoceros and the argument we argue against.
The rhinoceros mean change; that is undeniable. However, the key point in the play is how that change is portrayed. Although change is often seen as a necessity, not all changes are good nor desirable. Considering people must, or should have legal access to abortion is a change that must be resisted and argued against. Not necessarily on the grounds of morality or religion. However, on the grounds of the action itself. We might argue like Dudard does in the play that nobody knows what is evil or good, and those criteria are just a matter of personal preferences (Ionesco, 1960:80), but it would not be correct. On an issue as complicated as abortion, there should not exist criteria such as evil or good. The real concern in this situation is that whether people like it or not, such activity should be disregarded on the grounds of the action itself.
Berenger has an interesting opinion regarding the issue when he discusses the issue of normality and abnormality with Dudard, and he says “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.” (Ionesco, 1960:84). This is true, and Berenger understands it. Humanity has pushed its limits too far and does not recognize whether or not its reactions and actions can be considered normal. In that light, having legal access to abortion can be considered something that has become normal only on the grounds of normality having lost its meaning.
Turning into a rhinoceros does not mean become something we are not. Instead, it means starting to accept beliefs that are not inherently to adapt to society and its norms. Sometimes political correctness has been taken too far as a way to appease all appetites. As Dudard puts it “You seem very sure of yourself. Who can say where the normal stops and the abnormal begins? Can you define these conceptions of normality and abnormality” (84). The truth is that normality is impossible to argue on the grounds of normality itself. Humanity believes that it is an achievement to accept changes and provide a reason for everything they do. This is not true, as the grounds are only a construct to give our ideas a stronger support when they should be able to stand by themselves.
“(…) for a man to turn into a rhinoceros is abnormal beyond question.” (84). With those words, Berenger is giving us the key to our argument. What he is saying is that for a man, to accept changes without thinking or resisting is out of the question. Turning into a rhinoceros is, as we stated earlier, taking changes without asking. Berenger does not turn into one because he is unwilling to change without a reason. Allowing abortion as a legal alternative would be turning into a rhinoceros. It would mean we are throwing the towel and accept political correctness as the way of life, instead of wondering whether it is the best thing to do.
That is another problem of political correctness; the excessive tolerance. People think that tolerating other’s ideas is something to be praised when it means the exact opposite. Ideas should be able to gather their followers without the help of tradition or correctness. That way, without the aid of the perception of right or wrong, they would be assessed by what they are. That is why Berenger considers that men’s duty is to oppose those ideas proposed by tradition with a clear, firm mind to not be sucked in and becoming a rhinoceros (93)
Like Berenger says, “Good men make good rhinoceros, unfortunately. It’s because they are so good that they get taken in” (84). In this case, goodness can be paired with ignorance. Ignorance would believe something is correct only on the grounds of tradition and word of mouth; without stopping to think about the implications of what they are accepting. That way, when people say yes to the legal access to abortion, they are complying with something they do not understand. They are becoming rhinoceros themselves. Saying no to something so sensitive such as abortion means to oppose the mainstream on the grounds of that some things have to be fought to being understood and not accepted. That way, people would start to wonder whether those things they take in their lives are not harming them. It is said that educated people are hard to fool, and it might be true. Sometimes, saying no to those things everybody takes for granted is the best way to analyze them.
Ionesco, E. (1960). Rhinoceros, and other plays. New York: Grove Press.
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