"The Zoo Story"

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Edward Albee’s, “The Zoo Story” is about the innate animal instinct that resides in each human being. Regardless of things like social class, education, profession we are born with a primal animal instinct to either fight or flight when it comes protecting our territories much like wild animals. However, the animals at the zoo in this play are enclosed and isolated from each other just like the characters Jerry and Peter who struggle to break free from their own barred cages.
In the poem the character Jerry is lonely, antisocial and a rather socially awkward man who through befriending animals believes he will be able to better communicate with his own species. He firsts attempt to build a relationship with the landlady’s dog because, he says, “Man is dog’s best friend, remember” (Albee, Edward). Jerry explains, “It’s just that if you can’t deal with people, have to make a start somewhere. WITH ANIMALS” (Albee, Edward). Jerry realizes one day at the zoo that in order for him to better understand human interaction he must better understand the things that drive their animal like instincts. He states, “I went to the zoo to find out more about the way people exist with animals, and the way animals exist with each other, and with people too.” (Albee, Edward). He uses animals to comprehend his own social isolation because he has a difficulty developing relationships with people. The character Peter he engages on his way back from the zoo says, “You don’t really carry on a conversation; you just ask questions” and Jerry says, “It always happens, when I try to simplify things”(Albee, Edward). Jerry longs for companionship, but lacks an inability to connect with people and is unable to effectively communicate with those around him.

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...tween “Lexington and Third Avenue” (Albee, Edward). Peter’s second cage is his bench in the park. He becomes an animal when forced by Jerry to defend his honor and fight him for his “territory”. Jerry says, “You have everything, and now you want this bench. Are these the things men fight for? Tell me, Peter, is this bench, this iron and this wood, is this your honour? Is this the thing you’d fight for?” and “Fight for it, then. Defend yourself; defend your bench.” (Albee, Edward).
Human beings are very similar to both animals in the wild and those in captivity much like the characters portrayed in “The Zoo Story” by Edward Albee. Born with a primal instinct like wild animals they will both defend their territory, their honor and their pride. However, we also relate to those in captivity and at times caged by things like our fears, insecurities, and selfishness.

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