Brief Summary The Last Lesson
‘ The last lesson ‘ written by Alphonse Daudet narrates about the year 1870 when the Prussian forces under Bismarck attacked and captured France. The French districts of Alsace and Lorraine went into Prussian hands. The new Prussian rulers discontinued the teaching of French in the schools of these two districts. The French teachers were asked to leave. Now M. Hamel could no longer stay in his old school. Still he gave the last lesson to his students with utmost devotion and sincerity as ever.
One such student of M. Hamel, Franz who dreaded French class and M. Hamel’s iron rod, came to the school that day thinking he would be punished as he had not learnt his lesson on participles. But on reaching school he found Hamel dressed in his fine Sunday clothes and the old people of the village sitting quietly on the back benches. It was due to an order from Berlin. That was the first day when he realized for the first time that how important French was for him, but it was his last lesson in French.
The story depicts the pathos of the whole situation about how people feel when they don’t learn their own language. It tells us about the significance of one’s language in one’s life for the very existence of a race and how important it is to safeguard it.
Main points of The Last Lesson
1. Franz is afraid of going to school as he has not learnt participles.
2. Wants to enjoy the beauty of nature – the bright sunshine – the birds chirruping in the woods – Prussian soldiers’ drilling but resisted.
3. On reaching school Franz notices: unusual silence – Villagers occupying the last benches – teacher well dressed – everybody looked sad.
4. M. Hamel announces: Today is the last lesson in French.
5. Franz regrets and realizes why he had not taken his lesson seriously.
6. Understands the reason why teacher is well dressed and villagers sitting at the back.
7. M. Hamel realizes that all three, he himself, the children and the parents are to be blamed for losing respect and regards for the mother tongue.
8. Hamel says: French language – most beautiful, clear and logical language in the world. Always keep close the mother tongue to your heart as it is a key to the prison of slavery.
9. Hamel becomes emotional and writes on the black board “Vive La France”
10. Franz remembers the last lesson very well.