May 13, 2013
Flowers for Algernon
The famous quote, “Where ignorance is bliss, tis’ folly to be wise” comes from Thomas Gray’s poem “Ode on a Distant Prospect of Eton College”. The meaning of is simply that a person is more comfortable when they do not know something. In the case of Charlie Gordon this is especially true since he knows very little. Charlie has a severe mental handicap, which was brought on by a fever he suffered with as a child, impeding his brain development. As an adult he works as a janitor in a bakery thanks to his uncles help. Through his relationships at his workplace and his other acquaintances we see how different his life is before and after his experimental brain surgery and can judge for ourselves whether ignorance truly is bliss.
At the bakery where Charlie works he interacts with many of his fellow employees who he believes to be his friends. They provide him with a great deal of attention that Charlie processes as friendly, but in reality he is the butt of all of their jokes. Despite the constant ridicule he received from this he kept on smiling and being happy. Outside of work Charley is enrolled in a reading and writing class for retarded adults under the instruction of Alice Kinnian. In the beginning his relationship with Alice is nothing more than that of a student viewing a teacher who in his mind is much older than himself. Through this relationship however he is introduced to two researchers who are looking for a test subject for an experimental surgery that is believed to increase ones intelligence by three times. As seen with his coworkers, Charley believes that these men are there to help him and are his friends, but similar to before they only view him as a test subject that can be used to further their research and propel them to scientific notoriety. His last relationship is one that he has with a fellow test subject, a mouse named Algernon. Algernon was the preliminary test...
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