Stanislaw Lem, an ex-Communist member, had many complaints about the order in which the Communist party operated. In his short story, Trurl’s Machine, Lem satirizes Communist control over thought. He employs setting, symbolism, and character to create a subtle, yet powerful blow against attempts to control the masses. The combination of these three tools forms a humorous and insightful read.
Lem uses a lot of symbolism. The Machine symbolizes the Communist party and its drive to have power over the human race. Trurl symbolizes the common man and his fight to stay independent and free. His friend, Klapaucius, symbolizes the follower of Communism, who will accept what is given to him if it avoids a confrontation. When the machine asks Trurl what two and two makes, Klapaucius promptly replies, “Two and two is seven, nice machine!” completely ignoring the fundamental fact that two and two is actually four (145). Even the cave symbolizes how trapped a person can be if they are forced to comply to things that they do not believe in. It is difficult to miss all the symbolism in this story.
Lem utilizes character as well. He gives Trurl an old, intelligent, and stubborn persona, who is set in his ways. Klapaucius on the other hand, is flexible and quick to make judgements. When Trurl first learns that his machine won’t admit two and two is four, Klapaucius tells his friend matter-of-factly, “This is the stupidest thinking machine in the entire world…”(140). The machine also has some character, portraying it to be a stubborn, childish and idiotic machine, with an aggressive side. Every main character has a persona that helps carry the story along.
Finally, imagery is used in the story as well. Lem describes the machine as “an eight-story thinking machine” with “[lavender] edges” and “a few pale orange polka dots [on the forehead]”(139). This gives the reader an idea about the size and shape of the machine for future reference. The town they run to...
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