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Critical Analysis of Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep

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Essay title: Critical Analysis of Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep

In Philip K. Dick’s, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep, animals have nearly become extinct after World War Terminus and the resulting nuclear fallout. This has suddenly caused animals to become a symbol of wealth and prestige rather than simply a slab of meat bought at the grocery store. But all-the-while, throughout the novel, Dick makes it apparent that the role of animals is actually to satisfy the owner’s desire to simply own a real animal, opposed to a replicant animal, which is seen through the interactions of Deckard and his sheep, then again with his goat, and also with Isidore with the cat. In an effort to distinguish themselves from all other beings on a world that has been ravaged by war which has caused most people to emigrate to other planets, humans display their control or dominance over animals by preserving their existence on earth. It can be seen that humans actually do value and care for animals but not for an individual animal. Rather they possess them for the glorification of their status in society.

First, let’s distinguish the relationships that are present in this book. Throughout the novel, animals are held in high demand and are quite valuable due to their scarcity, but when you think about this in relation to the relationship between humans have with androids on earth, there something is different. Although there are only a few androids on earth, the humans hunt them down while they preserve the disappearing animals. This concept has to do with the idea that humans want to be seen as unique from every other being in the world. Humans are becoming threatened by the androids as they become more like humans while the humans become more like machines. One example of this is how humans use a mood organ to set their mood for instance seen in the opening chapter. As for trying to preserve the animals, since they are not seen as a threat to humans and are seen as something natural, possibly even more natural than humans, they make an effort to sustain animal life on earth. It’s seems as though the human’s common goal is to prove that they have power over the other creatures and beings of the world.

These ideas tie into John Berger’s main points in his essay, About Looking, which is the fact that humans have distinguished themselves from all other beings, even though they are still animals, and see themselves as superior to other creatures. In the essay, Berger refers to a time when humans and animals interacted on a much more intimate level than we do today (p.1). After industrialization however, we removed them from our daily lives and while we still use them for food and other goods, we don’t interact with them as we did before industrialization when they meant more to people than a hamburger (p.10-11). He also states that around the same time, we symbolized our conquest over animals by creating zoos to house certain animals for our entertainment (p.19) or domesticating them to keep us company (p.12). In the novel especially, animals are not seen for their true value and what they can actually provide to improve humans lives, but are seen as merely a trophy to brag to other humans about. While that is not exactly the case in our world today, we as a collective group don’t really stop and think about animals as beings like us, but merely as something we can do whatever we want with. It’s our feeling of superiority over these creatures and how we have stopped looking at them the way we once did when they lived among us that has created this separation that Berger sees as an irreversible historical loss (p.26).

Taking that idea into the book, at first glance, it seems as though the friendship between humans and animals is regaining some strength due to their scarcity, but upon further analysis it becomes apparent that humans do not feel compassion for any one individual animal, but rather they value animals as a whole because their rarity. The idea that humans don’t care about animals as individuals in the novel is seen right away when we learn about Deckard’s sheep. While it appears to his neighbors that Deckard has, and cares for, a real sheep, it is actually an electronic copy of what was once his real sheep. On pages 11-12 Deckard explains to Barbour, his neighbor, about how the sheep had died from tetanus from a piece of wire in his hay, but shows no sign of remorse that the animal had died, just upset that he didn’t own an animal anymore. So then he explains how he bought an artificial animal to replace the real one so nobody would notice. But in talking about it, he explains how he has to care for and attend to it just as he did with his real sheep because they can break down and he is worried that other people might see that the animal was not real. On a side note, this lack of emotion toward individual animals

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