Allegory and Idealism in Michael Crichton's Jurassic Park And The Lost World
This paper presents a detailed discussion on the use of allegory and idealism in Michael Crichton's Jurassic Park and The Lost World. The writer draws several examples from the story to illustrate the use of allegory and then discusses its effectiveness. There were three sources used to complete this paper.
In many literary works the authors use methods that might be considered metaphoric to make their point. In the case of science fiction the author is given a lot of freedom to use things such as metaphors and allegory characters to present an underlying message to the readers. The ability to use allegory in science fiction is strengthened and enhanced because of the very nature of the genre. Aliens, monsters and man made creatures often grace the stories, allowing the allegory effect to be utilized.
Before one can fully understand the way allegory was used in Michael Crichton's Jurassic Park one must have an understanding of the story itself. The plot of Jurassic Park lends itself to the use of allegory because of the type of genre that it is. The plot centers on the idea a Palo Alto California company had to create a fantasy park that allowed people to roam with the dinosaurs and know how they lived.
The groundbreaking technique used for the park involved the cloning of DNA from dinosaur samples taken from insects that bit the dinosaurs then died and were preserved as fossils (Crichton, 1992). The company found a way to extract the blood of the dinosaur and use the DNA to create the creatures for the park. The park is a dream of John Hammond who buys an island 100 miles off the coast of Costa Rica (Jurassic Park, or, Sympathy for the Dinosaur Joe Sartelle Bad Subjects, Issue # 5, May 1993 (http://eserver.org/bs/06/Sartelle.html).
When a scientist named Malcolm warns Hammond that the park is becoming increasingly unstable due to the rush to create these creatures without proper research to verify its reactions, the warnings are ignored because there are Japanese investors coming to the park that weekend to see how their investment was coming. In addition Hammond's grandchildren were spending the weekend at the park (Jurassic Park, or, Sympathy for the Dinosaur Joe Sartelle Bad Subjects, Issue # 5, May 1993 (http://eserver.org/bs/06/Sartelle.html).Thatweekend the dinosaurs become monsters and the people on the island spend the entire trip trying to survive and getting eaten alive, injured and otherwise attacked by the manmade creatures.
The use of dinosaurs to stand in for human beings is not unheard of and at times is actually a popular literary and film making fad. In the case of this story however, it had been awhile so the concept was relatively new. The dinosaur species represents human society. They have many different races and cultures by virtue of their meat eating or vegetarian eating habits as well as their refusal to mingle with other types of dinosaurs. They separated their types in the same manner that humans have often separated their types. This allegory is further explained by one of the novel's characters when it is said that one type of the park's creatures are tiny and cute and others in the park are massive and scary. It parallels the human tradition of division by cultures.
Some of them see well, and some of them don't. Some of them are stupid, and some of them are very, very intelligent.' Just like people (Jurassic Park, or, Sympathy for the Dinosaur Joe Sartelle Bad Subjects, Issue # 5, May 1993 (http://eserver.org/bs/06/Sartelle.html)!"
While this might seem to be an overly simplistic explanation it is accurate. If the novel had been about monkeys, or dogs or cats there would not have been as clear cut a picture of the parallels between the creatures and the humans.
Dinosaurs in this novel are not only used to differentiate between races but also to determine class distinctions (Crichton, 1992). "In Crichton's novel the dinosaurs are literally a class of beings created by capital in order to serve capital: they are genetically-engineered, their DNA sequences altered just enough to make them patentable and thus private property; then they are held in captivity, where they must perform the labor of acting out their dinosaur identities for the benefit of wealthy tourists. Moreover, they are altered so that they are completely dependent upon their owners, the island's literal ruling class: they have been deprived of the ability to manufacture a particular amino acid and must receive it regularly in their food. 'These animals are genetically engineered to be unable to survive in the real world,' the dinosaurs' designer tells the visitors. 'They can only live here in Jurassic Park. They are not free at all. They are essentially our prisoners (Jurassic Park, or, Sympathy for the Dinosaur Joe Sartelle Bad Subjects, Issue # 5, May 1993 (http://eserver.org/bs/06/Sartelle.html).'"
Because of the use of the dinosaurs to illustrate the political structure of humans the allegoric use lends itself to one central idea. Jurassic Park itself represents ethnicities and the dinosaurs are representative of the creations of America's capitalist way of life. The dinosaurs present themselves in the novel in a manner that speaks to the cultural society that America has developed. Through the use of money and power there are class distinctions though they are not addressed as such in polite society.
Furthermore, Jurassic Park also suggests that the fortunes of ethnicities, like those of the dinosaurs, are inextricably tied to the fortunes of the capitalist system that brought them into being: once summoned into existence, they must earn their keep to survive. Thus the politics of identities and 'multiculturalism' are completely compatible with capitalism, being themselves the product of capitalist exploitation: imperial domination yields to domination by the 'free market,' in which all identities are just so many laborers and consumers with particular qualities and interests to target and exploit. Like the various dinosaurs on Jurassic Park's island, each identity is given its own contained space, within which it is 'free' to be itself. What creates and holds together the 'diversity' of identities is an elaborate system of regulation, control and commodification (Jurassic Park, or, Sympathy for the Dinosaur Joe Sartelle Bad Subjects, Issue # 5, May 1993 (http://eserver.org/bs/06/Sartelle.html)."
The novel's subtle use of allegoric symbolism is evidenced in many of the book's scenes and events. The island itself represents the earth. It is an island that is one hundred miles from anywhere else, just as earth is a many mile trip to the nearest planet. It is cut off from the rest of the world in the same manner that the earth is alone in the universe and must maintain its ability to be self-sustained. In the case of Jurassic park the self-sustaining mandate presents itself the weekend that security goes out and there is no way to notify the world for help. "This distinction between science and capitalism -- science is the resource, capitalism the corrupting agency -- is occluded over the course of the novel, so that science finally takes the blame (Jurassic Park, or, Sympathy for the Dinosaur Joe Sartelle Bad Subjects, Issue # 5, May 1993 (http://eserver.org/bs/06/Sartelle.html)."
The Lost World is another creation by the same author that uses allegoric symbolism to make its message clear.
In the Lost World, which was the sequel work following the success of Jurassic Park, allegoric symbolism is again employed to underscore the moral and value flaws of society today. In the work Malcolm returns, after a four-year avoidance of the island. When he had tried to tell the world about what had happened that fateful weekend four years earlier he had been subjected to public ridicule and humiliation for his story. The investors as well as the company who backed the park denied any knowledge of what Malcolm had claimed had happened though the children tried to back him to no avail. When he finds out that his girlfriend is already there on business he has no choice but to return and try and rescue her. Once there he sees the park is rebuilt and the destruction of four years earlier is gone forever. However, it is not long before the dinosaurs again go crazy and begin attacking and murdering those humans who dared set foot on the island. This time however, there are other allegoric symbols to guide the reader to the understanding that the island actually represents the world and the dinosaurs represent humans who live in the world.
Even the types of creatures are representative of the humans on earth. The large mean and nasty ones are similar to people who hurt others and bully their way through the world. It was shown in both movies and both novels that the large and violent creatures chase down those that they believe are weaker and they do them in. Humans who are bullies act in much the same manner (Jurassic Park, or, Sympathy for the…