Repent Harlequin Essay, Research Paper
??Repent, Harlequin!? Said the Ticktockman?
The story, ??Repent, Harlequin!? Said the Ticktockman,? by Harlan Ellison illustrates a futuristic society governed by time. In 2389, when the story takes place, man has become so obsessed with punctuality, that if one does not posses this quality, he can be punished by death. Those who become heroes and strive to save the world from destruction by the clock become enemies by the world because they are non-conformists. This is the case for Everett C. Marm, or better known as the Harlequin, who tries in vain to transform the unacceptability of the regulations. Harlan Ellison introduces to us the idea of serving society in various forms. The reader sees that many in society have transformed into that which society believes. There are many ways in which people respond to society, some follow without question and others do what they feel is right, despite the consequences. Ellison uses specific examples of imagery, diction, and characterization to illustrate the importance of reform in society.
Ellison used imagery to display the Harlequin?s rebellion as well as the societies actions and thoughts. In illustrating the robot-like lives of his society, Ellison wrote, ?He could hear the metronomic, left-right-left of the 2:47 shift, entering the Timkin roller-bearing plant in their sneakers? he heard the right-left-right of the 5:00 AM formation, going home.? This quote shows the punctuality of the people, as well as the organization of the strict society they live. The shift was not 2:45, but rather exactly 2:47, not sooner or later. In addition, the workers that were arriving took steps ?left-right-left? whereas the ones going home walked ?right-left-right.? This allegorizes exactly how over-organized society was. There was so much control over the people that they no longer did what they wanted to, or what they felt was right. They automatically did what law said to, forgetting their own feelings and opinions on whether or not the laws were morally correct. When Marshall Delahauty had received his ?turn-off message,? he tried to escape. As he ran away, ?his heart stopped, and the blood dried up on its way to his brain, and he was dead that?s all.? This shows the reader the extreme control of the Ticktockman. He had the power to end the lives of people as he pleased. Not only that, we are shown the insignificance of these people in society, which is seen when the author wrote, ?and he was dead that?s all.? His death is portrayed to be insignificant, which is shown by the use of imagery. Society was so brainwashed that they were dehumanized as well. They no longer cared or felt anything for another human being. They death of a relative was no longer important. Furthermore, when the Harlequin spilled jellybeans all over the city, the people saw it as the most horrible thing, which is apparent because of all the commotion that it caused. ?Jelly beans! Millions and billions of purples and yellows and greens?round and smooth and crunchy outside and soft-mealy inside?bouncing jouncing tumbling clattering skittering fell on the heads and shoulders?entering a universe of sanity and metronomic order with quite-mad coocoo newsness.? Ellison uses imagery to clearly give the reader a feeling of being in the story, viewing the jellybeans as they fall from the sky. It is an effective use because it shows what chaos the jellybeans brought upon the machine-like society. Ellison would not have been able to describe this society without the use of imagery, because it appeals to the senses and allows the reader to picture exactly what is going on in the story with their vision, taste, as well as their smell. The use of imagery shows that the people viewed everything that was different from their daily monotonous lives as horrible. Ellison is showing us that we refrain from conforming because without reforms, no progress would be made in life.
Diction is a tool used to show how society functioned as well of what kinds of people were included within it. In order to keep track of the populace and control the amount of life one was allowed, each person had their set of a ?time-card and cardioplate.? These were futuristic inventions that signify the control that the Ticktockman had over his people. In addition, many futuristic terms were used to illustrate how society functioned. From ?slidewalks? to ?coffee-bulbs? to ?fax boxes,? Ellison shows the manner in which society was managed. Furthermore, Ellison used diction to show the importance of time in the Ticktockman?s society. An example is when the workers were climbing to their construction platforms ?releasing their a-grav plates, rising toward the Harlequin.? These people were so obsessed with saving time, that they would shorten their words. Rather than say anti-gravity, they would say ?a-grav? in order to save time. Similarly, the systematic schedules of these people is shown by the ?Thursday colors? that people wore. They were so completely reformed that they had a set style of dress for every day of the week. This used of diction illustrates how brainwashed society had become. Furthermore, the diction helped distinguish between the three types of people present in society. The men who served ?with their bodies? was the populace, represented by pretty Alice, who ?want[ed] to belong, want[ed] to conform.? These people live by the rules of others, not thinking for themselves. The second kind of people was the men who served with their consciences as the Harlequin did. This man followed what he felt was moral, not what the Ticktockman dictated. He explained, ?It?s a terrible world,? showing that unlike the others, he did have an opinion on the society. The last kind of people depicted through the diction in the story are the men who server with their intellect, in this case the Ticktockman. He made destructive choices in order to remain on time and keep everyone on task, though many were not necessarily ethical. He explained to the Harlequin, ?You?ve used up everything you can, and more. I?m going to turn you off.? This showed what a tyrant the Ticktockman was, and how he never used his sensitivity in making decisions.
Harlan Ellison used characterization to portray the lives of the three different kind of peoples; those who serve society with bodies, their conscience, and their intellect, in hope to help the reader better understand the idea of revolution and serving society. The Harlequin is compared to other revolutionaries showing his impact upon society, ?He was considered a Bolivar; a Napoleon; a Robin Hood; a Dick Bong (Ace of Aces); a Jesus; a Jomo Kenyatta.? Just like the Harlequin, none of these revolutionaries came from the ruling class, yet all made an impact. Also, they were thought of abnormal and strange because of their con-conformist ideas. The ?order? of society did not appeal to the Harlequin. The Harlequin was a non-conformist, who spent an alarming ?sixty-three years, five months, three weeks, two days, twelve hours, forty-one minutes, fifty-nine seconds, point oh three six one microseconds? of his life arriving late, and causing tardiness among others. This ?criminal? was merely trying to enjoy his life and descry others to follow his lead. The Harlequin is portrayed as a hero through the eyes of the author. Those who served society with their bodies included the ferrets, the loggers, the commex, the mineez as well as pretty Alice. The society in 2389 was so infatuated with the concept of order, that every day would entice a different color of clothing. These contrary colors allowed the citizens to shop once day per week, which in turn created more order. For had someone decided to shop a different day than assigned, time would be lost and the ?master schedule? would become delayed. The phrase ?Ostrich-walking? depicts the workers as emotionless and isolated in would which they do not understand. And, what is not understood must be destroyed according to their ruler, the Ticktockman. Since nobody understands the Harlequin, he must be destroyed. Ellison characterizes the Ticktockman as a tyrant, who has no feeling or emotion. The Ticktockman is very respectful of his government. Ellison relates his characters to those of Thoreau?s excerpt. In the excerpt, ?The mass of men serve the state? as machines, with their bodies.? It is interesting how Ellison uses his creativity to relate his fictitious characters to those of real life, where as Thoreau views the men merely as machines rather than people. Ellison?s descriptions of society and the people who inhabit it help the reader understand that rebellions can be honorable if their cause is moral, as in this short story.
Through usage of imagery, diction, and characterization, Ellison makes the point that in life people views those who think differently as evil. The Harlequin was a ?dangerous criminal? because he was not like the rest of them. By using these rhetorical devices, Ellison get his point across to the reader that anyone can make a difference in society so long as the person does not conform. With these three tools, the struggle between punctual society and the non-conformists is brought to life. Ellison wanted to make it clear that, ?You cannot make an omelet without breaking a few eggs.?