An Analysis of "Dr. Susan Calvin" in "I, Robot", by Isaac Asimov

Topics: Isaac Asimov, I, Robot, Three Laws of Robotics Pages: 5 (1694 words) Published: February 11, 2004
A hero is defined as a person noted for special achievements in a field. Dr. Susan Calvin, the main character of the novel I, Robot, is made the hero because of her special achievements in the field of robotics. Dr. Calvin is a robopsychologist who uses many different methods of problems solving to solve the problems that other scientists and mathematicians were incapable of doing. Through these many adventures in the field of robotics, Dr. Susan Calvin displays her many character traits to the reader. Dr. Calvin has an excellent combination of many different attributes. In I, Robot, by Isaac Asimov, Dr. Susan Calvin, the main character, reveals much about herself to the reader, and makes the book what it is.

Many times during the novel, Dr. Calvin displays amazing intelligence in tough situations. When analyzing the mind reading robot named Herbie, Dr. Susan Calvin displays great amounts of intelligence. Since Herbie is a mind-reader, Dr. Calvin knows that in order to understand what happens in his synthetic brain, she must analyze it vigorously, and by her intelligence she figures out that in order to stop him from hurting others by what he says to them, she has to out-smart the robot, which is not easy. Since one of the Three Laws of Robotics are that a robot must not hurt a human, she figures out Herbie's weakness and says to him, "'You can't tell them,' droned the psychologist slowly, 'because that would hurt and you mustn't hurt,'" confuses Herbie to the point that he shorts out and "dies," in a sense (Asimov 133). During her many adventures in the workplace, Dr. Calvin displays her intelligence in assorted situations. In Beacham's Encyclopedia on Popular Fiction, it states that, "Most of the robot tales are exercises in problem solving," in which the problems are solved by Dr. Calvin showing that overall she has great intelligence, no matter what situation, and that she can handle it no matter how hard the problem is (Beacham 2064). Many times in the novel, Dr. Calvin shows her intelligence by reminding her colleagues that robots are infallible, and when problems come up that a robot has not been producing the correct information, Dr. Calvin no sooner proves that it is human error and is not the faults of the robots. Not only does Dr. Calvin show intelligence in the workplace, but she also shows the immense amount of common sense she possesses. At one point during the novel in a situation regarding whether Stephen Byerley, a political figure, is a humanoid robot or not, she states to one of her colleagues, "So far you are presenting circumstantial evidence, with which you can accuse but not prove," which shows that she knows certain circumstances do not always give the exact answer to a question (Asimov 220). Also when trying to discover the truth about Mr. Stephen Byerley, Calvin says, "'People say 'It's as plain as the nose on your face.' But how much of the nose on your face can you see, unless someone holds a mirror up to you,'" which shows that she knows some things may look obvious, but in order to understand it exactly, one must analyze it and study it, in order to make sure that there are not any underlying factors in the situation (Asimov 244).

At one time Dr. Calvin shows her love for another person, which is very rare. Dr. Susan Calvin changes her lifestyle somewhat in order to get the one she loves to notice her. Dr. Calvin discovers her intense love for another person, a colleague named Milton Ashe, in a conversation with the mind-reading robot named Herbie and in order to get Ashe to notice her, she starts to wear lipstick. Dr. Calvin is able to get into a friendly relationship with Milton Ashe, and, "Her eyes fixed themselves upon Ashe in an oddly intent manner," which displays her love for Ashe in that there usually is nothing else besides robotics that could make her as happy as she was at that moment (Asimov 113-114). Dr. Calvin's personality changes so much due to her love for Milton Ashe...

Cited: Asimov, Isaac. I, Robot. Bantam Doubleday. New York; 1991.
Beacham, Walton. Beacham 's Encyclopedia on Popular Fiction. Beacham Publishing Corp., Osprey FL; 1996.
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