Apocalypse: An Analysis of Society’s Fears of the Evils of Prejudices and Alienation!
“It’s the end of the world as we know it!” The musical band REM stated it best in the lyrics of their hit song titled “It’s the End of The World”: “It’s the end of the world as we know it (It’s time I had some time alone) and I feel fine, fine”(REM). There have been many stories written throughout history highlighting the total destruction of societies and revelations of the future, otherwise known as an apocalypse. One such story of an apocalypse is Richard Matheson’s novel, I Am Legend. The novel is a cautionary tale of the evils of our society such as isolationism, alienation, as well as racism from the days past to the ever evolving future and the path the world is taking to not repeat them through the story’s unraveling of plot and character development.
Matheson utilizes a unique plot structure to help identify fictional effects of the apocalyptic themes of alienation and loneliness within the novel. The story unfolds within four different parts. The exposition of the story is revealed in Part I of the book where Neville’s most basic need and engagement for survival against the vampires begins. This exposition continues into Part II which details Neville’s investigation to gain a better understanding of the new vampires. Part III of the book details Neville’s interaction with a new “confidante” with whom to share this new knowledge in which the climax of the story begins. Finally, in Part IV, the story concludes the climax and details the resolution of the story with the separation and battle between the “old” vampires and the newly mutated vampires. As the story unfolds within these parts, Matheson utilizes flashbacks to help detail pertinent information from Neville’s “previous” life with his wife, child, and friends to help provide a greater insight to the backstory of Neville’s “earlier life”. A similar plot structure can be seen in the conflicts and evils of society even today. As one looks back to the historic events of 9/11 and the events that followed, one can see a similar pattern as Matheson used in the novel. The conflict begins with an initial terrorist attack on The United States of America in which its citizens were forced to utilize their most basic needs for surviving that attack, similar to Neville’s struggles in Part 1 of the story. Once the initial actions of survival were completed, The United States began the needed investigation and gathering of information to identify those responsible and any other additional pertinent information similar to Neville’s investigation of the vampires in Part II. Similar to how Neville shared this information with another in Part III, The United States reached out to other Allies to form a plan as to next steps. Finally, as the conflict between the two sets of vampires comes to a head in Part IV of the novel, The United States and its allies waged war against the terrorists. As can be seen, the sequencing utilized to reveal information in the novel mirrors the real world in many aspects to help counter the effects of many of society’s evils. Within Matheson’s plot revelations, the author’s detailed analyscharacter development of the protagonist, Robert Neville, and his antagonists, the vampires, begins to detail one major evil found in all societies, racism. Neville is the sole survivor of a plague that has converted the rest of humanity to vampires and Neville’s mission is to destroy "the others" before they can infect him. The story reveals the fear and loathing that most people have exhibited toward the vampires, who Robert remembers were once like him until they became afflicted. Once vampires dominate the population, however, then they are no longer in the minority, and the dynamics shift. When Robert Neville is the last of his kind and he is outnumbered by the mutants they would like to see him killed in retaliation for the deaths he caused to...
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