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Planet Apes

December 26th, 2009 admin No comments

Planet Apes
What are some of the key themes of the book Planet of the Apes?

I need to write and essay on it. I already read the book but now need to write an essay on a main theme in the book. I need help!!

Get your hand off me you God damned dirty ape

The main events of the book are placed in a frame story, in which Jinn and Phillys, a couple out on a pleasure cruise in a spaceship, find a message in a bottle floating in space. The message inside the bottle is the log of a man, Ulysse Mérou, who believes that he may be the last human left alive in all the universe, but has written down his story in hopes that someone else, somewhere, will find it.

Ulysse begins by explaining that he was friends with Professor Antelle, a genius scientist on Earth, who invented a sophisticated spaceship which could travel at nearly the speed of light. Ulysse, the professor, and a physician named Levain fly off in this ship to explore outer space. They travel to the nearest star system that the professor theorized might be capable of life, the red sun Betelgeuse, which would take them about 350 years to reach. Due to time dilation, however, the trip only seems two years long to the professor and him.

They arrive at the distant solar system and find that it contains an Earth-like planet, which they christen Soror (Latin for sister), “because of its resemblance to our Earth.” They land on the planet and discover that they can breathe the air, drink the water, and eat the local vegetation. They soon encounter other human beings on the planet, although these others act as primitive as chimpanzees and destroy the clothing of the three astronauts. They live with the primitive humans for a few days, hoping to civilize them and learn their language.

At the end of this time, they are startled to see a hunting party in the forest, consisting of gorillas, orangutans, and chimpanzees using guns and machines. The apes wear human clothing identical to that of 20th century Earth, with the exception that they wear gloves instead of shoes on their prehensile feet. The hunting party shoots several of the humans for sport, including Levain, and capture others, including Ulysse.

Ulysse is taken off to the apes’ city, which looks exactly the same as a human city from 20th century Earth, with the exception that some smaller furniture exists for the use of the chimpanzees. While most of the humans captured by the hunting party are sold for manual labor, the protagonist winds up in a research facility which is doing experiments on human intelligence. The apes perform experiments on the humans similar to Pavlov’s conditioning experiments on dogs, and Ulysee proves his intelligence by failing to be conditioned, speaking and drawing figures of geometry.

Ulysee is taken in by one of the researchers, Zira, a female chimpanzee, who begins to teach him the apes’ language. He learns from her all about the ape planet. Eventually, he is freed from his cage, meets Zira’s fiancé, Cornélius, a respected young scientist. With Cornélius’ help, he goes to make a speech in front of the ape President and several representatives, and is given specially tailored clothing. He tours the city and learns about the apes’ civilization and history. The apes have a very ancient society, but their origins are lost in time. Their technology and culture have progressed slowly through the centuries because each generation, for the most part, imitates those of the past, a recognized ape-like characteristic. The society is divided up between the violent gorillas, pedantic orangutans, and intellectual chimpanzees.

Although Ulysee’s chimpanzee patrons Zira and Cornelius are convinced of his sentience, the society’s leading orangutan scientists believe that he is faking his understanding of language, because their philosophy will not allow for the possibility of sentient human beings.

Ulysee falls in love with a primitive human female, Nova, whom he met in the forest at the beginning of his visit to the planet. He impregnates her. This proves that he is the same species as the primitive humans, which lowers his standing in the eyes of many of the apes. However, their derision turns to fear with a discovery in a distant archaealogical dig and analysis of memory in some human brains. Evidence is uncovered which fills in the missing history of the apes. In the distant past, the planet was ruled by human beings, who built a technological society, and enslaved apes to perform their manual labor. Over time the humans became more and more dependent upon the apes, until eventually they were so lazy and degenerate that they were overthrown by their ape servants and fell into the primitive state in which our protagonist found them.

While some of the apes reject this evidence, others take it as a sign that the humans are a threat and must be exterminated. In particular is an old orangutan scientist, Dr. Zaius. Ulysee gets wind of this, and escapes from the planet with his wife and newly-born son, returning to Earth in the professor’s spaceship.

Again, the trip takes several centuries, but only a relative time of a few years to the protagonist. Ulysee lands on earth, over 700 years after he had originally left it, and lands outside the city of Paris. However, once outside the ship, he discovers that Earth is now ruled by sentient apes just like the planet from which he has just fled (this is where his story on paper ends). He immediately blasts his ship off into space once more, writes his story, places it in a bottle, and launches it into space for someone to find.

The book concludes by returning to the couple who had found the bottle, who are revealed to be apes themselves. They scoff at the unlikelihood of humans having been advanced enough to build spaceships, and conclude that the story must be someone’s idea of a joke.

PLANET OF THE APES – Trailer (1968)


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