The Last Lesson Class 12 English Notes | StudyTution

Chapter Sketch

The last lesson is set in the days of the Franco – Prussia defeated France districts of Alsace and Lorraine passed into Prussian hands . The two protagonists of the story , M Hamel is a France teacher at a school and Franz is one of his students. The story revolves around how war proves to be  a life altering event for both



He is a sensitive and honest school boy who accepts his fault of ignoring his lessons


He is sincere and strict teacher of the French language who is passionately patriotic . He breaks at the end of the last lesson.


Franz is Reluctant to Go To School

Franz started for school very late that morning. His French teacher, M Hamel , Had announced that he  would question the class on participials. Poor Franz did not know even a single word about them and was afraid of a scolding from his teacher

It was  a bright sunny day and for a movement Franz thought for running away and spending the day outside. The chirping of birds and the marching of  Persian soldiers was much more tempting than the rules of participial , However Franz was able to fight the tempting and hurried of the school

On his way to school, Franz passed the town hall and noticed a crowd in front of the bulletin board. For the past two years , all the bad news had come from it and Franz thought about what the matter was this time as he was hurrying into the past.

M Hamel’s Strange Behaviour

When Franz reached the school, he was very surprised to find that everything was quiet. Usually, when the school began, there would be a great commotion and activity. Franz had often counted on the commotion to get to his desk unnoticed. But, that day everything was as quiet as it was on a Sunday morning. Franz noticed that all of his classmates were already in their seats and M Hamel was walking up and down with his iron ruler under his arm. He had to open the door and reach his seat in front of everybody. He was blushing and was very frightened. What surprised and confused him more was that, instead of scolding him, M Hamel spoke very kindly to him and told him to take his seat.

Franz notices many things while going to school

After Franz calmed down, he noticed that M Hamel was wearing some different clothes. That’s Hamel wore only on special occasions.

The whole school was doing very strange practices and the atmosphere was serious. But the thing that surprised him the most was that he wanted to see the people of the village sitting quietly on his back. They all looked very sad and everyone had sadness on their faces.

Order from Berlin

Franz was still wondering as he observed the changes around him, when M Hamel mounted on his chair and made the dreadful announcement. He told the class that it was there, the last lesson of French.

The order had come from Berlin to teach only German in the schools of Alsace and Lorraine and he would be departure the school the after that day. These words were like a thunderclap to little Franz. Now he remembered the gathering at the town hall.

Franz was totally shocked by the abrupt turn of dealings. He regretted not having learnt his lessons when there was still time.

Now, he will never be able to learn them. He had wasted his precious time away from the class, engaging himself in trivial pursuits like seeking bird’s eggs, going sliding on the Saar, etc. His books, which were a nuisance to him, suddenly felt like old friends. His feelings for his teacher too started changing.

The thought that M Hamel was going away and he would never see him again, made him forget all about his ruler and how cranky M Hamel was. Franz was feeling very sorry for him. It was in honour of his `last lesson’ that he had put on his fine clothes, and the village people had gathered there to say their thanks towards him, and to show their value for their country.

M. Hamel criticizes himself and the citizens of Alsace

When Franz was thinking this, he called his name; it was his turn to narrate. Would have given him everything if he had said it more clearly than the rule, but unluckily he got mixed up on the first words. He was blushing and stood up holding his desk.

M Hemel said that he would not beat Franz. He criticized the people of Alsace for their habit of keeping them from learning until the next day. He was blamed for not giving his parents an interest in his studies.

He blamed himself for this as well. Frequently, he sent students to water their plants or discharged them when they hunted to go fishing, it was their fault.

Importance of Mother Tongue

M. Hemel spoke about the French language when he called it the most attractive, most explicit and most logical language in the world. He wanted the people of France to retain their language among themselves.

According to him, whenever people of a particular nation are imprisoned, they fast for their language; it seems as if they have a key to jail.

The Last Lesson

M. Hamel opened a grammar book and qualified him the last lesson. Franz was surprised to see how well he understood everything. He thought that perhaps he never paid much attention to the class and that M Hamel had never explained everything with so much patience. He then had a written text.

M Hemel brings new copies for him that day and everyone was engrossed in their work. Even small children sitting in the classroom were tracing their fish hooks, as if they were French.

The Final Good Bye

While doing all this, M Hemel remained motionless in his chair, when Franz thought that M Hemel was watching this classroom scene. In support of 40 years, M. Hemel had worked sincerely in his school and now he was about to leave. His sister was packing his luggage. All this is really heartbreaking for him. In the last lesson, that was a history lesson.

Anyway, if a person does any work with complete impunity, then eventually someone will become emotional. Some even started crying, but M. Hamel listened to each lesson to the last with courage and patience. Finally, as the church clock struck twelve, M. Hemel stood upright.

It was very clear that he had also become affecting. He tried to speak, but was suffocated. Then he turned to the blackboard and wrote as big as he could Vive La France! That means long-lived France. He then dismissed the class, signalling everyone to Leave.

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