Flowers For Algernon Essays

Flowers For Algernon Essays-77
These early surgeries called into ethical question whether any brain surgery should be done for the purpose of improving mental performance.For example, Ken Kesey’s 1962 novel One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, made into a movie in 1975, explores the treatment of the mentally ill during the decades following World War II.

These early surgeries called into ethical question whether any brain surgery should be done for the purpose of improving mental performance.For example, Ken Kesey’s 1962 novel One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, made into a movie in 1975, explores the treatment of the mentally ill during the decades following World War II.

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Pharmaceuticals such as Prozac were developed to enhance and manipulate brain chemistry, opening the debate still wider concerning the ethics involved in physically manipulating the brain.

Much of the debate involves defining both medical and scientific ethics and the rights of individuals.

We notice that Hilda is immediately replaced, presumably after Strauss and Nemur read of her remark in Charlie's report We could interpret this as a purely pragmatic act: the scientists removed Hilda because they were afraid her comments would somehow taint the experiment However, we might also view it in a larger context, that science always does its best to remove religion from the equation Put another way, religion has no place in science 3. The maze is a literal and symbolic element in Flowers for Algernon.

Both Algernon and Charlie must complete mazes as part of the experiment To the experimenters, the maze is a test or marker of intelligence, and successful completion of the maze is viewed as evidence of learning Metaphorically, the maze is a symbol for life As with a paper maze, life is an ever-changing affair and there are various pathways, dead ends, and even rewards associated with it Several times in the novel Charlie encounters maze-like structures, such as in a dream when he remembers being separated from his mother in a department store or when he runs in the darkness through the maze-like paths of the park to elude would-be captors One might suggest that prior to his operation Charlie was hopelessly lost in the maze of life Of course, if Charlie wasn't aware that life is difficult, perhaps this is an unfair assessment As the experiment progresses, both Charlie and Algernon are required to complete increasingly complex mazes Thus, the novel asserts that the more intelligent one becomes, the more difficult it is to navigate the maze of life A maze is a type of puzzle whose completion offers some reward Initially, Algernon receives food as a reward for completing the maze However, as the mouse's intelligence becomes stronger, he no longer desires the food As Charlie observes, Algernon seems to want to complete the mazes purely for the sake of trying This is also true of Charlie, for whom, initially at least, the maze is simply a game with no perceived consequences or rewards However, as his intelligence grows, so too does his desire to complete the maze His first motivation is simply to beat Algernon; he recognizes that it is embarrassing to be beaten, particularly by an animal As his mind continues to grow, completion of the maze becomes a way of proving to himself and the rest of the world that he is intelligent Near the end of the novel, Charlie's quest to uncover the flaw in the experiment can be likened to completing his final maze This time, however, the maze is completely within his mind, and the reward is literally the life or death of the new Charlie 4.

As more sophisticated imaging techniques such as CAT scans, magnetic resonance imaging, and PET scanning were developed, brain mapping became more precise.

Some medical researchers suggested building on the techniques used with epileptic patients to remove snippets of tissue from the area of the brain thought to control aggression in order to make prison inmates less likely to re-peat their crimes.Presumably, Charlie had one of the procedures common at the time when he was treated with electroshock by Dr.Guarino, although it is not clear from the context of the novel precisely what that procedure is.One group of patients for whom brain surgery was unquestionably necessary had certain types of epilepsy characterized by uncontrolled, recurrent seizures that involved both halves of the brain.Surgery to cut the connection between the brain halves and thus control or minimize the seizures resulted in a great deal of “left brain, right brain” research, identifying which half of the human brain appeared to “control” which types of activities. How does the diary or journal-entry form of the novel affect the emphasis of the narrative?Is Charlie dependable as a narrator as he progresses through his various stages? What is the significance of the window in the novel?The window is an important symbol in Flowers for Algernon On a literal level, a window is an object that allows the penetration of light By admitting light, it facilitates illumination or understanding A window allows someone on the inside to look out, and someone on the outside to look in On the outermost level, the novel itself operates as a window Charlie has been asked to produce the progress reports for Dr.Strauss and Professor Nemur so that they can gain insight into his mind At the same time, the reader uses the novel to gain insight into Charlie's mind, as well as the minds of the other characters The reader actually sees how Charlie's mental functions improve as his writing becomes more sophisticated And through Charlie's comments, the reader gains insight into the other characters' personalities and motivations In a sense, a window restricts our view of the world; it puts limits on what we can and cannot see It may also affect the way we see the world Thus, we might view Charlie's operation as providing a larger window, or perhaps drawing the blinds covering his window and letting in more light For as he becomes smarter, he begins to understand more and more of the world around him On more than one occasion Charlie finds himself looking through a window It is as if he cannot directly connect with much of the world, but instead must experience it from behind a pane of glass, operating as a passive viewer rather than an active participant In some ways this results in a voyeuristic approach to life, such as when Charlie spies on a woman in another building emerging from her bath When Charlie's intellect grows, an odd shift occurs; he finds himself on the opposite side of the window We see that he becomes a much more active participant in the world around him He even begins to play an important role in the very experiment where he is the subject Finally, we might see the window as a protective device A window allows illumination but at the same time it filters out harmful effects of the sun and other elements of nature Initially, Charlie's window on the world protects him Though we know better, he thinks of his coworkers at the bakery as friends The nasty comments and harsh treatment he receives from them are filtered out by his intellectual window Of course, as his window to the world opens, the ensuing insight causes him much emotional pain And as his window is fully opened, even Charlie begins to treat others in a less civil manner 2. While we might think of Charlie as a spiritual being, he is not what we would consider a religious person We learn that in his early years he had some exposure to religion His mother told him that he should pray to God, and late in the story Charlie asks God to at least leave him the ability to read When Charlie eventually reconnects with his mother, she thanks God that her prayers were finally answered Yet there is a hollow ring to her words For Charlie, God is not a deity to be worshiped; he is a rather innocuous figure This attitude remains much the same even as Charlie's intellect expands, for rarely do we see him contemplating God or thinking religious thoughts For a time, when Charlie begins hanging out in the places university students frequent, he becomes interested in a number of philosophical discussions, some of which pertain to the existence of God But this line of thought does not play a major role in his mental life The novel, however, does ask an important religious question, namely what should the relationship between God and man be?More specifically, can man, through science, overstep his bounds and play God?


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