Flowers for Algernon and The Garden of Eden Essay

Custom Student Mr. Teacher ENG 1001-04 2 September 2016

Flowers for Algernon and The Garden of Eden

Daniel Keyes’s fictional story, “Flowers for Algernon”, drew on themes, patterns of events, and character types from the Biblical story of the Garden of Eden. Both stories had a mutual theme: Ignorance is bliss. Both stories also shared a similar pattern of events. Charlie Gordon, the protagonist in “Flowers for Algernon”, and Adam and Eve, the main characters in the Garden of Eden, all started out in a state of innocence, unaware of evil, until they were encouraged to become smarter. After they had gained intelligence, their eyes were opened to all of the badness in the world, and they suffered the consequences. There were also similarities in the characters in both stories, such as between the Serpent and Miss Kinnian and between Eve and Algernon. Daniel Keyes rendered the material new by changing the setting, the characters, and the events of the story to something much more modern.

In “Flowers for Algernon”, Charlie wanted to become smart, but once he did, he realized that people used to make fun of him, and most people stopped talking to him as often as they used to, either because they were scared of him or couldn’t understand him. Algernon died, and Charlie lost all of his intelligence. In the Garden of Eden, God warned Adam and Eve not to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, but they didn’t listen. The serpent convinced Eve to eat the forbidden fruit, and then Eve convinced Adam to eat it as well. When they ate the fruit, they gained knowledge and wisdom, became aware of evilness, and realized they were naked. God condemned them to a life of suffering and eventually death. The common theme of these two stories is ignorance is bliss. Sometimes it’s better to know nothing than something.

The pattern of events in “Flowers for Algernon” mirror those of the Garden of Eden. In the Garden of Eden, God created Adam and Eve. They were completely innocent and pure, but not perfect. God warned them not to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. The evil serpent convinced Eve to eat the forbidden fruit anyway. When Adam and Eve ate from the tree of knowledge, their eyes were opened, and they gained knowledge and wisdom, but they were also exposed to evil, and they felt naked. Their state of innocence was lost. When God found out about this, He punished Adam and Eve.

In “Flowers for Algernon”, Charlie Gordon had a disability and lacked intelligence. Miss Kinnian persuaded Charlie to go through with the operation. He agreed to undergo the surgery that the doctors thought would triple his intelligence, even though he was aware of the risks involved. The operation made Charlie incredibly smart, but it also made him aware that people made fun of him. At one point, Charlie stated that he felt as if he was naked. His intelligence eventually deteriorates, and Algernon dies. In both stories, the main characters start off in a state of ignorance, are persuaded to increase their intelligence, decide to gain knowledge, despite knowing the risks involved, and then they have to pay the consequences.

Some of the characters in “Flowers for Algernon” and the Garden of Eden are very similar. For example, Charlie, Adam, and Eve are similar because they are the main characters, they started out in a state of ignorance, and they all received knowledge. Secondly, the serpent and Miss Kinnian are alike because they both persuaded the main characters to become smarter. Lastly, Eve and Algernon were both the first characters to acquire knowledge.

Daniel Keyes rendered the material new by changing the setting, the characters, and the events. The Garden of Eden happened in the beginning, while “Flowers for Algernon” took place in the 20th century. Instead of a talking snake encouraging somebody to eat magical fruit, Daniel Keyes used Miss Kinnian to persuade Charlie to do the operation. Thirdly, in the Garden of Eden, the forbidden fruit gave knowledge to Adam and Eve, but in Flowers for Algernon, an operation caused Charlie to become more intelligent.

Themes, patterns of events, and character types found in Flowers for Algernon mirror those found in the Biblical story of the Garden of Eden. The stories both share the same theme: Ignorance is bliss. They both have similar patterns of events: The main characters start out in a state of innocence and ignorance, then they are persuaded to increase their intelligence. The main characters agreed, despite the risks involved. The main characters had to face the consequences of receiving knowledge. Adam, Eve, and Charlie, the serpent and Miss Kinnian, and Eve and Algernon all mirror each other. Daniel Keyes modernized the Biblical story of the Garden of Eden by changing the setting, the characters, and the events, although the overall theme, patterns of events, and types of characters are similar in both stories.

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  • University/College: University of Chicago

  • Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter

  • Date: 2 September 2016

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