The Zoo Story by Edward Albee Essay

The Zoo Story by Edward Albee Essay

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In The Zoo Story, Edward Albee shows an encounter between two very different men, Peter and Jerry, sitting at a bench in Central Park. The play depicts people living like animals in cages, isolated from each other, and refusing to communicate. The play presents characters who suffer from lack of real human relationships, the sense of loneliness from being alienated and isolated from other members of their own society. This suffering leads mainly to agonizing life experiences and finally to the death of Jerry, who greatly suffers from alienation. In the play, Jerry tries to break this kind of alienation and make contact with another human being and who finally binds himself to that other in death. Through Jerry Albee presents the problem of alienation that marks the modern life of the mid-twentieth century. It shows how alienation from oneself, from other people, and from the society, in which one lives, is interrelated. In The Zoo Story, Albee makes it obvious that Jerry’s sense of alienation springs from multiple personal and social reasons, in which society as a whole imposes this sense of alienation upon its members.
To start with Jerry’s personal life, in telling his family’s history to Peter, Jerry lives in total isolation from his family in his early life, which adds up to his feeling of alienation. Jerry says that his mother abandoned them to lead the path of adulterous “Besides, or, rather, to be pointed about it, good old Mom walked out on good old Pop when I was ten and a half years old; she embarked on an adulterous turn of our southern states” (Albee 28). His mother’s separation from his father and her later death between Christmas and the New Year not only leaves great gap in Jerry’s early life, but also creates the i...

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...d by Peter.
In the play, Jerry tries to achieve communication in the isolated and alienated society where he lives. He achieves that goal only by ending his life in the sake of making contact. In his death, Jerry provokes Peter into a livelier awareness of “others”. Jerry attempts to shake Peter and brings him back from death and by making him “alive”. That what Albee is trying to reflect in the play where he argues that “All serious art, not just plays, is an attempt to modify and change people’s perception of themselves, to bring them into larger contact with the fact of being alive” (Fuente.1980 interview with Albee). After Jerry’s death, Peter is much shaken. The audience is shaken too, as they are represented by Peter in the play. Jerry is one person to act out, to face his loneliness and alienation, and to break the conceptual silence of the American society.

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