Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? – Literary Analysis

Light Through Cracks

In Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, Philip K. Dick presents a dissonant futuristic world, entropic with kipple and pervading silence. Initially, a stark dichotomy between humans and androids clash, but as Dick delves deeper into the nuances of the dystopia, the demarcations between the real and the synthetic begin to blur and illuminate. Through Isidore and his isolated experiences of mostly the synthetic, Dick employs an incompletely transitioned darkness to light motif to suggest that without a balanced experience of both the real and unreal, the isolation of a binary from the other can lead to an unhealthy close-mindedness and impairs a more meaningful human collective. Through Deckard and his isolated embrace of the real, Dick uses the same motif to delineate the blurred complexities of the authentic and synthetic dichotomy and the need to couple these binaries in harmony rather than reject one or the other. By converging the lives of Isidore and Deckard and utilizing a transitioning incomplete to complete, darkness to light motif, Dick explores a transcending blurred model that healthily balances the authentic and synthetic, ultimately suggesting a harmonious integration of these dichotomies as a possible impetus for an enlightened trans-humanist collective.

7082
Book Cover of Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? – This novel inspired the famous science fiction movie Blade Runner.

The Meaning of Mercism – How Mercer plays a symbolic role in Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep

***

Dick uses a motif that incompletely transitions from darkness to light to portray Isidore’s heavy interactions with synthetic Mercer fusions as an unhealthy isolation from a true balanced experience of the real and unreal. Alone in his abandoned apartment, Isidore relies on his empathy box, fusing with “the [others’] mentalities…on the hill, the climb” (Dick 22).  His “hill climb” from the bottom to the top is emblematic of an ascension from darkness to light. While Isidore’s solitude symbolizes the darkness, his simulated “fusion” of collectivity acts as a temporary light, a surrogate for human communication, that allows him to “[break] the illusion of aloneness” (25). Yet, Isidore soon gets hit by a rock and is forced “to end, as always” (25). Through the quick “end” of Isidore’s climb, Dick portrays an incompleteness of his darkness to light ascension to suggest that despite Isidore’s constant synthetic experiences with the empathy box, his climb to collectivity is incomplete without the coupled experiences of the real, “end[ed] as always” by the need to return to reality. Through Isidore’s additional speculation to “live in town,” Dick hints on the idea of striking a healthy balance between synthetic experiences and human communication, the “town,” to reach a more complete collectivity (25).

As Galvan highlights, the empathy box “only temporarily [alleviates] the anguish of social dislocation” but “makes him dependent on the life of the machine” (Galvan 2). Although Isidore desires to experience real collectivity and does interact with fellow humans Mr. Sloat and Milt, he is so attached to the empathy box, the synthetic “life of the machine,” that he ironically becomes more separated from the human and the real. Dick consequently reveals that Isidore’s unbalanced isolation from the authentic limits him to the Mercer box and an unhealthy narrow-minded perspective of the world. Thus, it is through experiencing a balanced interaction between the real and synthetic that later catapults Isidore into a healthier unison with the human collective.

[Read Part 2: Themes and Symbolism in Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep, Character Analysis of Luba and her relationship with Deckard –>]

[Read Part 3: Symbolic Conclusion and Relationship Character Analysis between Deckard and Isidore, the Toad Symbolism, and more –> ]

Works Cited

Dick, Philip K. Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? New York: Random House Group, 1968. Print.

Galvan, Jill. Entering the Posthuman Collective in Philip K. Dick’s “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?” Science Fiction Studies, Vol. 24, No. 3 (Nov., 1997), pp. 413-429. Print.

Vint, Sherryl. Speciesism and Species Being in “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?” Mosaic (Winnipeg), Vol. 40, No.1 (Mar., 2007). Print.

© Copyright 2016 Moosmosis – All rights reserved

All rights reserved. This essay or any portion thereof
may not be reproduced or used in any manner whatsoever
without the express written permission of the publisher. 

Moosmosis Facebook CommunityPlease Like our Facebook page to support our open-access youth education initiatives! 🙂

Support Us!

Buy us a cup of coffee! Our site is run 100% by volunteers from around the world, and we thank you for visiting! Please help support us by buying us a warm cup of coffee! 🙂

$1.00

Advertisements

15 Comments

  1. I didn’t enjoy this novel very much, unfortunately, although I still rate the Man in the High Castle as his best work. Sci-fi isn’t always my thing, although I think the Blade Runner adaptation is far superior. Still, he had one hell of a mind, did Mr. Philip K. Dick. No denying he was a creative genius.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for the comment, Mr. Wapojif! I haven’t read the Man in the High Castle yet – makes me curious to start it soon. Have you seen the film Scanner Darkly based off Dick’s book?The film’s really narcotically exotic! No spoilers intended. 😉

      Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s