The Last Lesson is a short story by the French writer Alphonse Daudet, published in 1873. It is set in the time of the Franco-Prussian War (1870-1871), when the Prussian army occupied the French regions of Alsace and Lorraine and imposed German as the official language in schools. The story depicts the last day of a French teacher, M. Hamel, and his students, who realize the value of their mother tongue and their culture only when they are about to lose them.
Table Of Contents
- 0.1 The Plot of The Last Lesson
- 0.2 The Theme of The Last Lesson
- 0.3 The Message of The Last Lesson
- 0.4 Who are the main characters of The Last Lesson and what are their roles?
- 0.5 What are the main themes of The Last Lesson?
- 1 The Last Lesson Class 12 in Hindi Detailed Explanation
The Plot of The Last Lesson
The story is narrated by Franz, a young boy who lives in a village in Alsace. He is not fond of school and prefers to play outside or watch the Prussian soldiers drilling. He is also afraid of his strict teacher, M. Hamel, who often scolds him for not learning his lessons.
One morning, Franz is late for school and he sees a crowd of people gathered around the town hall, where a bulletin board announces the latest news from the war front. He does not stop to read it, but hurries to his classroom, expecting a punishment from M. Hamel.
However, he is surprised to find a different atmosphere in the school. The room is quiet and solemn, and M. Hamel is wearing his best clothes, as if it were a special occasion. Franz also notices that some of the village elders are sitting on the back benches, listening attentively to the teacher.
M. Hamel welcomes Franz kindly and tells him to take his seat. He then announces that this is his last lesson, as an order from Berlin has forbidden the teaching of French in Alsace and Lorraine. From now on, only German will be taught in schools.
Franz feels a sudden pang of regret and shame for not paying attention to his French lessons before. He realizes that he does not know much about his own language and culture, and that he will soon lose them forever. He listens with interest and emotion to M. Hamel’s explanations of grammar, reading and writing.
M. Hamel praises the French language as the most beautiful and logical in the world, and urges his students to cherish it and keep it alive in their hearts. He also blames himself and the villagers for neglecting their duty to learn and teach their mother tongue. He says that they have all been guilty of putting off their studies for other things, such as farming, business or entertainment.
He then asks Franz to recite the rule for participles, but Franz cannot remember it. M. Hamel does not scold him, but says that he is not alone in forgetting it. He says that many people in France do not know how to write correctly in their own language.
He then asks the class to write “Vive la France!” (Long live France!) on their slates, as a sign of their loyalty and love for their country. He walks around the room, looking at their work with tears in his eyes.
Suddenly, a loud drumbeat interrupts the lesson. It is the signal for the Prussian soldiers to leave the village. M. Hamel stands up and says in a choked voice: “My friends, I… I thank you…” He then writes “Vive la France!” on the blackboard with a piece of chalk and says: “School is dismissed… You may go.”
The Theme of The Last Lesson
The main theme of The Last Lesson is the importance of language and culture as symbols of identity and resistance. The story shows how the French people in Alsace and Lorraine are oppressed and humiliated by the Prussian occupation, which tries to erase their history and traditions by imposing a foreign language on them.
The story also shows how the people realize their mistake of taking their language and culture for granted, and how they feel a sudden attachment and pride for them when they are threatened. The story suggests that language and culture are not only means of communication and expression, but also sources of emotional and spiritual connection.
The story also explores the theme of education and its role in preserving and transmitting language and culture. The story portrays M. Hamel as a dedicated and patriotic teacher, who tries to instill in his students a love and respect for their mother tongue. He also acknowledges his own responsibility and failure in not teaching them well enough.
The story also depicts the students and the villagers as eager and attentive learners, who appreciate the value of education and knowledge. The story implies that education is not only a matter of academic achievement, but also a way of empowering oneself and one’s community.
The Message of The Last Lesson
The message of The Last Lesson is that language and culture are precious and fragile, and that they should be protected and celebrated. The story warns against the dangers of losing one’s identity and heritage, and the consequences of apathy and indifference.
The story also encourages the readers to appreciate their own language and culture, and to learn more about them. The story inspires the readers to respect other languages and cultures, and to recognize their diversity and richness.
The story also urges the readers to value education and learning, and to make the most of their opportunities. The story motivates the readers to be curious and passionate about their studies, and to use them as tools for personal growth and social change.
Who are the main characters of The Last Lesson and what are their roles?
The main characters of The Last Lesson are:
- Franz: He is the narrator and protagonist of the story. He is a young boy who lives in a village in Alsace and attends school there. He is not interested in learning French and often skips his lessons. However, he changes his attitude when he learns that it is his last French lesson and that he will lose his mother tongue.
- M. Hamel: He is the French teacher who has been teaching in the village for forty years. He is strict and stern, but also kind and patriotic. He loves his language and his country, and tries to impart his passion to his students. He is sad and emotional when he has to leave his school and his students.
- The villagers: They are the elders of the village who come to attend M. Hamel’s last lesson as a mark of respect and solidarity. They are also regretful and ashamed for not learning their language properly when they had the chance.
What are the main themes of The Last Lesson?
The main themes of The Last Lesson are:
- The importance of language and culture as symbols of identity and resistance.
- The danger of losing one’s identity and heritage due to oppression and indifference.
- The value of education and learning as ways of preserving and transmitting language and culture.
- The emotion and patriotism aroused by the threat of losing one’s language and culture.
The Last Lesson is a moving and powerful story that touches upon universal themes of language, culture, education, identity, patriotism, oppression, regret, emotion, loyalty, and love. It is a story that resonates with people from different backgrounds and contexts, as it speaks to their common human experiences.
The Last Lesson is also a relevant and timely story that reminds us of the importance of preserving our linguistic and cultural diversity in a globalized world. It is a story that challenges us to think critically about our own choices and actions regarding our language and culture, as well as those of others.
The Last Lesson is a story that deserves to be read, studied, discussed, shared, enjoyed, and remembered. It is a story that can enrich our lives with its wisdom and beauty. It is a story that can inspire us to say: Vive la langue! Vive la culture! Vive l’éducation! Vive la France! (Long live language! Long live culture! Long live education! Long live France!)
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
The author of The Last Lesson is Alphonse Daudet, a French novelist and short-story writer. It was published in 1873 as part of his collection of stories called Contes du Lundi (Monday Tales).
Q: What is the historical background of The Last Lesson?
The Last Lesson is set in the time of the Franco-Prussian War (1870-1871), a conflict between France and Prussia (a German state) that resulted in the defeat of France and the unification of Germany under Prussian leadership. As a consequence of the war, France had to cede the regions of Alsace and Lorraine to Germany, which imposed German as the official language in schools there.
Q: What is the message of The Last Lesson?
The message of The Last Lesson is that language and culture are precious and fragile, and that they should be protected and celebrated. The story warns against taking one’s language and culture for granted, and urges the readers to appreciate, learn, respect, cherish, guard, keep alive, love their mother tongue. The story also inspires the readers to be loyal, proud, brave, hopeful for their country.