I Am Legend Analysis

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Robert Neville is the last man on Earth, but he is far from the last living being. It has been several years since an unknown plague covered the Earth and seemingly wiped out every human. But those humans that died did not stay dead, and have now returned to life as vampires, thirsting for human blood. By day, Robert goes through a strict routine to fortify his home with mirrors, garlic, and nailed-up boards, and hand making the endless amount of stakes needed for his other daily routine — vampire slaying. By night, Robert sits in his home, listening to classical music and drinking himself to sleep while vampires stumble around and call for him to come out.

Fed up by not knowing what caused the plague, and still haunted by the death of his family, Robert finally decides to begin researching what may have been the origin. Though Robert is not a scientific man, he has all the time in the world to become one. He adds a trip to the library to his daily routine, where he finds books on viruses, bacteria, and basic scientific theory. Through this new process of theorizing and study, Robert finds a renewal in his life, and as he comes close to a theory that may stick under securitization, he stumbles across the biggest discovery of all, he may not be the last human alive after all!

While this is certainly a horror novel by any means, the horror comes not from the external attacks of the vampires, but from the internal tribulations of Neville, and the nightly menaces seem trivial compared to Neville’s mental demons. Matheson takes the reader on Neville’s journey of repetition and routine to keep from going insane. Much of the story is told through Neville’s monologues to himself, as he talks his way through the day, and keeps himself in the present. Only briefly does he think back to the past, which is far too painful for him to revisit for even a fraction of a thought, and any shattered memories that Neville remembers are quickly doused with alcohol and even more...
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