The Real Cost of Intelligence in “Flowers for Algernon”

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Being born with harsh cognitive impairment can be difficult and daunting to understand the basic things in life. In Daniel Keyes book Flowers for Algernon, Charlie Gordon born with an unusually low I.Q takes undergoes a crazy surgery which morphed him from being cognitively impaired to having unbelievable high level of I.Q. He progresses from mental disability to brilliance. Due to his degree of intelligence, Charlie loses faith in all his friends, family and acquaintances. He becomes lost and alone in his own world of intelligence. Then, he attains gods blessing’s. He becomes happy again this strongly supports the author’s claim that, ” Ignorance is Bliss”.

With, extremely low cognitive abilities Charlie Gordon attends Beekmin College and works at Donner’s Bakery as his full time job. He truly enjoyed his work and had all contentment he needed. But, Charlie being dumb does not understand most people and their chatter, insults and comments. So, this envies Charlie. However, from the reader’s perspective, it’s pretty clear that his co-workers, friends and his own family members treat him badly. But, being unaware of this fact Charlie is the happiest and the most naive character in the book. Even tough, his friends were clearing making fun of him.

They really cared about his him and his presence “Frank cattled and said don’t go getting so dedicated that you wont talk to your friends”. This quote indubitably indicates the fact that Charlie’s friends really do care for him. Then, a life changing opportunity presents itself to Charlie, well at least in Charlie’s eyes. But, young Charlie was not aware of this fact that something that seems to good be true usually isn’t-accepts the surgery with gratitude not being aware of consequences it presents. And, so he indeed becomes smart and gets lost in his own world of thoughts and loses the grief of his friends. Keyes clearly states the idea that, “Ignorance is Bliss”. When Charlie becomes a genius, he throws himself into his research- there’s enormous pressure to discover new things for himself and his hunger is never really satisfied.

At the same time, Charlie’s research doesn’t bring him any happiness or contentment what so ever. His research feels like an endless path, “the more I keep reading, the more things I understand, the more things I discover, there’s always new things to learn, it’s an unquenchable thirst”. This quote certainly indicates that his desire for knowledge is troublesome. In fact, Charlie admits that it is torturous indeed. He also starts over thinking each and everything which prevents from taking advantage of the oppurtunities offered to him in his life. When, Charlie became intelligent his own sub-conscious mind acted as a limiting agent and a negative catalyst to his happiness and contentment.

Keyes further expands her claim by stating that intelligence even tough isn’t always blissful, it’s still a burden to carry. When, Charlie is intelligent he is never really contented with accomplishments and rewards, there always inner feeling of sorrow and misery that prevents him from being happy. Being, extremely intelligent is actually worse than being cognitively impaired it’s clearly inferred that Charlie was actually more happier than when he was an ignorant child. Being extremely intelligent, Charlie could not live a normal life and have normal relationships with people, “ I was as far from Alice with an I.Q. of 196 as I was with an I.Q. of 68” this clearly states he had trouble with forming romantic and friendly relationships due to his highly matured and consequential thinking. He also couldn’t tolerate any mistakes people make.

In fact, he turned against his friends- in one instance, Charlie was in his bakery, he found out that one of his friends were cheating his boss. Charlie being a prudent and thoughtful person he informs his boss. However, this backfires and he, in return, gets fired in return. He failed to grasp the fact that his friend was a better employee in his boss’s eyes than he was. So, this proves that being too intelligent sometimes people fail to do understand basic things in life which is not learned only by relationships and context with other people. Highly intelligent people also easily infuriated and agitated for small things.

All these factors, contribute to depression, dis-contentment and loneliness in the life of an overly intelligent person. In her book, the author clearly informs the reader that being over intelligent has more negative effects than positive and how intelligence can act against an individual’s happiness and contentment. Thus, being ignorant is blissful and beautiful. You are always happy and don’t really think about how our modern day society-built up of dangerously high levels of toxicity, cruelty and injustice- treats us as an individual. Thats why in the authors opinion it’s best to “leave the Garden of Eden alone”.

Cite this paper

The Real Cost of Intelligence in “Flowers for Algernon”. (2021, Dec 25). Retrieved from https://samploon.com/the-real-cost-of-intelligence-in-flowers-for-algernon/

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