The Zoo Story by Edward Albee Literary Device Analysis

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Written by Edward Albee and first performed in 1959 in a Germany theater, the Zoo Story is a play that uses two main characters, Jerry and Peter, to foreshadow modern happenings such as homosexuality or gay rights and socio-political issues. The latter encompasses the two major social classes that present in a capitalistic society, that is, the rich and the poor and the political power struggle between the bourgeois of the modern times. In a nutshell, the play mainly reflects the confrontation between the high, middle class and the outcasts of the community. The setting of the poem on a bench in the a Central Park, and the timing being a Sunday afternoon, reflects the activities that both the outcasts and the high and middle class people in the society do, that is, visiting the parks and reading as leisure activities. The literary device that intrigues a readers attention in the poem is the plot of the story. The structure of the plot is quite interesting commencing at the exposition stage at the beginning of the poem to plausibility at the end of the play. Therefore, the aim of this essay is give an analysis of the plot as a literary device in The Zoo Story.

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Edward Albee begins the play with an Exposition of the major character who are to dominate the story to the end. He introduces their names as Jerry and Peter and gives their physical appearances. Peter is described as a man in early forties, neither gaunt nor fat, and neither handsome nor homely, while Jerry is in his thirties not poorly but carelessly dressed. The dialogue that follows this expository paragraph of the main characters tells the reader more about the lives of Jerry and Peter. Moreover, Causality, a vital element of the plot device, is also illustrated in the play. It begins when Jerry appears in the park and forces Peter to share the bench and enter into a conversation with him. A dialogue narrating their lives then follows and Jerry forces Peter to continue the conversation. The dialogue flows well to the point when Jerry narrates to Peter a story about him and the dog. Following the events of the story, it shows that the play has a good causality as it ends with Jerry insisting to share the bench, and when Peter becomes possessive of the seat, he takes out his knife and forces him to fight.

Another aspect of the plot that is evident is Climax. It is achieved when Peter stabs Jerry unintentionally. This happens following constant mocking of Peter by Jerry resulting to the former becoming angry. Jerry offers his knife to Peter who picks it and Jerry ends up impaling himself on the knife causing the stabbing that consequents to death. The effect of this is that the reader or audience perceives that as a pre-planned suicide as Jerry actually thanked Peter for ending his miseries. Finally, at the end of the story, though rather strange, Implausibility is shown as the conclusive element of the plot. This element is unpredictable as at no point does the reader or the audience anticipate a fight that leads to the death of one of the major characters in the story. It is quite implausible that two men, who had no prior knowledge about each other, start a fight over an unworthy thing as a bench until one of them dies. This element surprises the audience although it reflects the extent, which some people, especially the high and middle class in the society, can go to achieve their goals in the name of protecting their interests. It is this element brings about the theme of absurdity thus the reference to the play as The Theatre of the Absurd.

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