• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

"An ape, a most ill-favoured beast. How like us in all the rest?" (Cicero)[1]. How does Great Apes support this view?

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

"An ape, a most ill-favoured beast. How like us in all the rest?" (Cicero)1. How does Great Apes support this view? All literary works provide the reader with an escape - an escape into a world other than their own, where they can immerse themselves in someone else's life and adventures, and so for a while forget their own. However, the difference with Great Apes is that we are not actually allowed to forget our own world - instead we have to confront it. Will Self lets us begin the story in a recognisably human world, but then we are frighteningly transported into this chimp society, where we follow the journey of Simon Dykes, a former human, through this opposite but strangely similar world of chimpunity. Through the use of humour and satire the continuum of behaviour that links humans to apes is revealed, and this is what forces us to assess just what it means to be human. The novel clearly borrows from the Fourth book of Gulliver's Travels, where Lemuel Gulliver finds himself in a land where horses are the dominant species, and human beings are regarded as little more than savage animals. Self has taken this conceit a step further by making the dominant species chimpanzee's, which as we know from scientific research only differ from humans in approximately two percent of their DNA. Unlike Swift, who created a world which was completely unlike our own (and the dominant species were totally unlike human beings), Self has created a world which we recognise: the dominant species social hierarchy, constructions, cultural artefacts and ideology all mirror our own. ...read more.

Middle

Their constant grooming - picking various items from each other's fur - is vile enough, but their s****l antics really mark the gulf between them and us. The way it goes on is almost too ridiculous to comprehend, but we have to imagine it to receive the full effect of our difference with them. The appearance of the chimps is perhaps the funniest aspect - as Simon himself comments, it is like living in a PG Tips commercial, as the chimps wear clothes, and the females wear "swelling protectors" (p.290) to hide their very different s****l organs. A good example of humour, revulsion and fear epitomised in Great Apes is on p.289, where Simon laughs hysterically at a middle aged female in a "plain grey jacket and plainer white blouse" mating a succession of chimps on a staircase, her swelling protector "a heap of pleats, some steps below where its owner bucked and yawped." We can see the hilarity of the scene as Simon does, which is followed by probably the most b*****l scene in the novel - Busner and Simon are chased by the chimps the latter was ridiculing. Self keeps the humour going with comments like "the Ready Brek breath of the big chimp", but still we are reminded here of the ferocity of this species, and also of our own - we know gangs of people can, and often do, attack others in our society. ...read more.

Conclusion

Obviously, this is an almost impossible scenario, but the faint plausibility of it is perhaps what causes us to cling on to that two per cent difference between us and our simian friends. We know apes can and have been taught basic language skills, so know they have the potential, but who wants to admit they are gaining on us? By treading them down and hanging on to that two per cent difference, we can hopefully prevent their development as a communicating breed and also forget about that ninety-eight percent of genetic makeup that is exactly the same as ours. Self has satirised many of the worst aspects of humanity through his representation of a parallel world of chimpanzees. He has shown we would need to change little of either species to make both indistinguishable from one another. Great Apes works as an interesting, unique and thought provoking probe into human nature which urges us to see these "ill-favoured beasts" we share our world with in a new light. At the same time we are provided with a disconcerting style of humour, which, coupled with Self's capable subject handling and skill leads to one of the most successful and original works in twentieth century satire. 1 from the opening quotes to Great Apes, Will Self, Penguin Group, London 1998 2 from the Oxford Companion to English Literature, Ed. by Margaret Drabble, Oxford University Press, Oxford 1985 3 from The Philosophy of Laughter and Humour, ed. John Morreall, State University of New York Press, Albany 1987 4 from Great Apes by Will Self, Penguin Group, London 1998 1 1 ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our University Degree Zoology section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related University Degree Zoology essays

  1. Evolution Essay

    The hands and arms could hardly have become perfect enough to have manufactured weapons, or to have hurled stones and spears with true aim, as long as they were habitually used for supporting the whole weight of the body...or so long as they were especially fitted for climbing trees."

  2. Zoological Society of London Report

    Unfortunately, many of these tigers in the zoo never make it back to the wild after they have successful been bred, but then again, if they were in the wild they would probably already have been killed for their fur or medicinal qualities.

  1. This study attempts to explore the basis of people's fear of animals.

    Partial Correlation Coefficients Controlling for harmfulness STRANGE FEAR STRANGE 1 0.7131 0 26 P= . P= .000 FEAR 0.7131 1 26 0 P= .000 P= . (Coefficient / (D.F.) / 1-tailed Significance) " . " is printed if a coefficient cannot be computed Reporting the Results Examining the three hypothesis

  2. Using the Grounded Theory to explore people's views on animal use: What factors influence ...

    Therefore the knowledge a person has about animal use, the media portrayal and the person's reluctance to find out information are all factors that influence views on animal use. Another category/theme that has emerged from the transcripts is that of 'experiences with animals" and "attachment to animals" of which are closely linked.

  1. Animal Testing

    Now, the kidney cell cultures from just 10 monkeys entails sufficient information to find a vaccine for everyone in the country. Hormones or vaccines produced in cell cultures are also purer than those formed within the animal themselves. This further decreases the necessity for animal tests to verify the safety of the vaccines.

  2. The positive correlation shows that the older the molehill the higher the species diversity ...

    19 58 3 33 23 18 yarrow 0 0 0 4 3 14 26 24 hoary plantain 0 0 4 13 3 7 12 21 agrostic 0 0 3 2 0 18 5 3 cocksfoot 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 2 jointed rush 1 1 2 2 1

  1. "Discuss the strengths and weaknesses of Ecologism as a new ethic."

    of interests, we grant equal moral standing to members of our own species based on the equality of everyone's personal interests, it follows that other species which can be said to have personal interests should be afforded the same moral consideration.

  2. Investigating the effect that group size has on the vigilant behaviour of flocks of ...

    function on Minitab. This function calculates new smoothed y-values for each x-value and joins them together. This makes it easier to determine and conclude that there is a linear relationship between these two groups of data. The linear relationship is made much clearer than the original scatterplot in figure 1.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work