The Last Lesson


Alphonse Daudet

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Themes and Colors
Culture and Language Theme Icon
Patriotism and Resistance Theme Icon
Education and Knowledge Theme Icon
Community and Solidarity Theme Icon
LitCharts assigns a color and icon to each theme in The Last Lesson, which you can use to track the themes throughout the work.

Culture and Language

Set against the backdrop of the Franco-Prussian War of 1870-71, which saw the defeat of France at the hands of Prussia (then consisting of Germany, Poland, and parts of Austria), Daudet’s “Last Lesson” explores the effects of cultural subjugation in a time of war. Little Franz, a schoolboy in the French region of Alsace-Lorraine, arrives at school one morning only to discover that, on the order of the Prussian forces that have taken control…

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Patriotism and Resistance

In telling the story of the last lesson that M. Hamel, a school teacher in the French region of Alsace-Lorraine, gives to Franz and his fellow pupils shortly after Prussian invasion of the region, Daudet explores the multi-faceted nature of patriotism and resistance. Through the character of M. Hamel, the reader is presented with a figure of resistance who fights his subjugation not by deploying arms, but by deploying patriotic pride. In this way…

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Education and Knowledge

Franz, the little schoolboy who narrates Daudet’s “Last Lesson,” is a rather negligent pupil. He doesn’t keep up with his lessons, he doesn’t like his teacher, M. Hamel, and he’d prefer to be out roaming the woods of his native region of Alsace-Lorraine, France, rather than in the classroom. Yet the lesson he attends on the day the story is set changes his view of school forever. Franz learns the true value…

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Community and Solidarity

Set during the Franco-Prussian War of 1870-71, Daudet’s story depicts French villagers responding to restrictions on their freedoms that have been imposed on them by foreign Prussian invaders. As Franz, his school teacher M. Hamel, and other pupils and villagers gather in a classroom on the morning that news arrives that the French language will be banned in schools in the Prussian-controlled Alsace-Lorraine region, hierarchies and divisions among the village people are cast…

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