Flowers For Algernon Charlie Character Analysis

  • Category: Books,
  • Words: 1117 Pages: 5
  • Published: 18 June 2021
  • Copied: 120

As a species, there will be no advancements, no changes, and no improvements without always trying to learn more. To learn more, people must take risks, they must experiment and tamper with. In the story, Flowers For Algernon, the author, Daniel Keyes, makes the reader contemplate the positives and the risks of experiments. Charlie Gordon is a thirty-seven year old man, who has always felt out of place, like the outcast. This is mainly due to the fact that he has an I.Q. of sixty-eight. His perspective on the world is skewed, and his emotional maturity is comparable to that of a child.  But, with the help of Dr. Strauss and Dr. Nemur, he gets the chance to not only undergo a procedure that could make him incredibly smart, but he is also taking part in a revolutionary experiment. He was the perfect candidate for the experiment, because the doctors could clearly see the drastic improvement. Although there were many known risks, Charlie was able to get the intelligence he had always wanted, he was able to fall in love, and he was able to help make incredible advancements in the doctors’ research.

One key thing to remember is that Charlie Gordon took part in an experiment that could change people’s view on intelligence, the way we go about learning, completely reconfiguring our idea of intelligence and I.Q.. At the peak of Charlie’s intelligence, he composed a letter addressed to both Dr. Nemur and Dr. Strauss, summarizing his discovery and his conclusion that there are, in fact, negative impacts to the procedure. “Under separate cover I am sending you a copy of my report entitled, ‘The Algernon-Gordon Effect: A Study of Structure and Function of Increased Intelligence,’ which I would like to have you read and have published” (Keyes 301). Not only was Charlie able to be a test subject, but as a result of the test and his tripled intelligence, he was able to write an entire scientific report, expanding on the knowledge and research of people that once looked down on him, an incredible feat. Although some might argue that the risks outweigh the benefits, that is really up to the individual. All Charlie had ever wanted was to be intelligent, and he got to make advancements in the research he was once the guinea pig for. Charlie understands the possibility that the experiment’s results might be temporary. “They dont know if it will be perminint but theirs a chance” (287 Keyes). Although Charlie isn’t very perceptive, he does clearly understand that there are risks, but he continues to be positive, because he knows that if it does work, the possibilities are endless, and he has the chance to make a true difference. He got to take part in revolutionary science and his sacrifice could help with more discoveries for years to come.

In addition to taking part in a significant experiment, Charlie was able to experience things he had never gotten to experience. Before the procedure, Charlie was not perceptive, and was emotionally immature. But after, his intelligence skyrocketed. Intelligence is not only referring to one’s ability to make advanced calculations, but their sociality, and emotional depth. “The thought of leaving her behind made me sad. I'm in love with Miss Kinnian” (Keyes 296). Before the surgery, Miss Kinnian was just Charlie’s teacher, and her kindness was built primarily on pity. But after, Charlie was able to grow, and he didn’t see her as a teacher, but as a partner. One might oppose and claim Charlie might’ve been able to discover those feelings without that procedure. Miss Kinnian wasn’t the only relationship he was able to improve. With his newfound emotional depth and new understanding of the world, Charlie was able to realize Joe and Frank, people he once thought were his friends, were not. He realizes they would make fun of him constantly. “Now I know what it means when they say ‘to pull a Charlie Gordon’”(Keyes 293). Charlie used to think that his friends were laughing with him, but now he is realizing that they are laughing at him. Charlie undeniably benefited from the procedure, not only becoming incredibly intelligent, but he was able to acknowledge those who treated him well, and those that did not.

In particular, all Charlie has wanted is to “be like other people''. He had an unbelievably low I.Q., and was never treated as an equal. That was all he wanted. In Charlie's very first progress report, he states, “I hope they use me. Miss Kinnian says maybe they can make me smart. I want to be smart” (Keyes 285). From the very beginning, all Charlie has wanted is to be smart, and he knows that this experiment is his once in a lifetime opportunity to do so. Some may say that Charlie could’ve gotten smarter without surgery, but considering the fact that he is thirty-seven years old, and his intelligence is comparable to that of a young child’s, it seems as though he hadn’t made much progress. “...I askd pepul and sumbody told me where I shud go to lern to read and spell good”(Keyes 286). A lot of adults attend night school, but typically they can spell basic words and have a rudimentary idea of basic grammar as well. Charlie was able to benefit greatly from this procedure, and the doctors were also able to see the incredible difference from when they first had him as a possible candidate to post-op. Since the beginning of the story, Charlie’s main focus and drive was the fact that he would one day be smart like everyone else. He longed for the day that the jokes were no longer pointed toward him, but he would take part in the joking. He no longer wanted to be a social outcast. He knew this operation would do just that.

Charlie began with nothing. His relationships were a ruse, a fake wall of pity dressed as kindness. His job and coworkers treated him unfairly, and everywhere he went he was mocked and ridiculed. As a result of the experiment, his emotional depth and overall perception increased. He was able to address the fact that his friends were fake and insincere. He was able to realize his love for Miss Kinnian, and he helped make incredible advancements in research that could one day further help someone in a similar situation as his. Charlie was the quintessential candidate for an experiment working on increasing and improving intelligence. He began with an incredibly low I.Q. of sixty-eight. This procedure would triple that to a staggering 204, which is considered genius. With him as the one being experimented on, Dr. Nemur and Dr. Strauss were able to see the incredible contrast, and they could clearly see that the experiment did indeed work, however short lived it may have been. Science, and the experiments needed to improve it, has been going on for centuries. If people were to stop experimenting and testing because all they were focused on was the risks, the world would never be able to make new discoveries. One must be prepared and willing to take those risks in order to improve the livelihood of not only humans, but the world as a whole.


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