In Douglas Adams’s novel, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Arthur Dent and Ford Prefect traverse an imperfect galaxy plagued by a lack of individuality. In The Seven Deadly Sins Today, Henry Fairlie ventures that this galactic epidemic correlates to the transmission of immorality throughout the world. Douglas Adams utilizes satire and characterization to demonstrate how the human condition is flawed. Furthermore, Henry Fairlie calls upon the archetypal seven deadly sins to criticize human banality. Collectively, Adams’s wittiness and Fairlie’s bitterness encourage the reader to exercise one’s identity.
First, Douglas Adams satirizes modern society to delineate the blemishes that chafe the face of humankind. Next, characterization indicates that every person battles against their fait accompli; however, some fight with more ferocity than others. Lastly, Henry Fairlie rancorously acknowledges the seven deadly sins to portray the world’s sinful commonalities. Ultimately, the authors of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and The Seven Deadly Sins Today accentuate a person’s obligation to rise from the stereotypical to the atypical.
Douglas Adams satirizes contemporary culture to expose humanity’s greed and glumness. In the beginning of the novel, Adams omnisciently describes the major problem afflicting planet Earth: This planet has–or rather had–a problem, which was this: most of the people living on it were unhappy for pretty much of the time. Many solutions were suggested for this problem, but most of these were largely concerned with the movements of small green pieces of paper, which is odd because on the whole it wasn’t the small green pieces of paper that were unhappy.
(1) This statement reveals that the author deeply worries about the “unhappy” condition of the human psyche. He outright blames the dissolution of depression on “the movements of small green pieces of paper,” also known as money. Essentially, Adams conveys that people are too worried about their financial status and forget to enjoy life to its fullest. Money becomes a shackle and enslaves the people of planet Earth with one of the seven deadly sins: greed.
The internet dictionary of Princeton University defines greed as “excessive desire to acquire or possess more than one needs or deserves” ( ). Henry Fairlie agrees with this definition and offers an eloquent sentiment: “The be-all and end-all of life should not be to get rich, but to enrich the world” (26). However, Fairlie’s plea is unheard due to the deafening materialism of modern society. It is a sad fact, but a fact nonetheless, that those who want “to enrich” are less abundant than those who want “to get rich. ” This phenomenon occurs because wealth is more easily attainable than enrichment.
Wealth requires one lucky day at the New York Stock Exchange or the acquisition of an emerging franchise. Enrichment requires an acute mind and patience because social change often takes generations to root in the minds of people. The solution to both Adams’ and Fairlie’s sinful society rests in patience. People should not try to perform a lifetime of actions in a fraction of their lifetime. Adams then reveals the twisted prototype for the space-age hero through the character traits of Arthur Dent and Ford Prefect. Arthur was born and raised on Earth, and he is the book’s hero.
Despite his role as the hero, Arthur’s main function in the novel is that of an reluctant observer. He is the one to ask questions, to bring out facts that the other characters are already familiar with. Arthur portrays his own timidity when he jokes, “Like a military academy [… ] bits of me keep passing out” (Adams 49). In this quote, Douglas implies that Arthur Dent is weak and could never hold his own in “a military academy. ” At heart, the flawed condition of planet Earth births Arthur Dent’s reluctance and pessimism and contorts the image of the futuristic hero.
But the heroism that Arthurs lacks, Ford Prefect extracts. Ford is a researcher for The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and the person responsible for saving Arthur Dent’s life. In the face of his name’s suggestion, Ford prefect is less than perfect. First, he is a hitchhiker, which our society defines as a poor vagrant without a place to call home. Also, he is a heavy drinker who spends most of his time in vehicles. The dastardly decision to F. U. I. (fly under the influence) correlates to the exploitation of the seven deadly sins, specifically gluttony.
By means of Princeton University, gluttony is “habitual eating and drinking to excess” ( ). Henry Fairlie expands on Princeton’s interpretation and states, “gluttony is the source of all our infirmities, and the fountain of all our diseases” (51). Literally, Fairlie suggests that “gluttony” causes obesity, a modern malady plaguing many people. Figuratively, the aformentioned “[infirmity]” refers to being an average human being. In theory, “gluttony” eats away at individuality. Now one might assume that it is better to be a completely temperate anti-glutton: this is incorrect.
The seven deadly sins serve to divert people from both poles: gluttony and radical temperance. An elucidation for both Dent’s and Prefects imperfect heroism and Fairlie’s community commonalities is moderation. Fundamentally, people should both indulge and divulge gluttony in order to maintain moderation. Adams next criticizes international affairs to imply that government has forced people to conform to its standards. When Arthur Dent and Ford Prefect board the Heart of Gold, Adams interjects via The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy to explain governmental paranoia:
The fabulously beautiful planet Bethselamin is now so worried about the cumulative erosion by ten billion visiting tourists a year that any net imbalance between the amount you eat and the amount you excrete whilst on the planet is surgically removed from your bodyweight when you leave: so every time you go to the lavatory it is vitally important to get a receipt. (75) This entry in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy demonstrates the author’s view that government relations have become irrational to the point where tourists need “a receipt” for their bodily excretions.
Due to the increased threat of nuclear and biological war, modern governments have become much more protective. And this over-protectiveness has caused increased tension between nations. An example of this situation is a young child trying to bring home a crab from a beach vacation. When the family gets to customs at the airport, the airport security does not let the child bring the crab on the airplane. This situation would enrage Douglas Adams because the goverment is restricting people from being people; the nation is stripping its citizens of their rights.
By doing this, the government conforms its people to do as it pleases, similar to the way an artist sculpts clay. In general, Adams defends that the itching blemishes of humanity can be traced back to the infectious rash of facist government. Furthermore, the presentment of Marvin forewarns the reader that a terrible epidemic is sweeping across mankind: depression. When Arthur Dent and Marvin are walking on the legendary planet of Magrathea, a world that creates luxury planets, Marvin walks about gloomily and sighs, “I think you ought to know I’m feeling very depressed” (120).
In this dialogue between Arthur and Marvin, the author expresses that one the most fruitful flaws of humanity, depression, has entered the realm of machines. Adams is also scrutinizing modern science fiction novels by reversing the role of the robot. In most science fiction novels of the twentieth century, astute androids achieve artificial intelligence and attack their creators. Au contraire, Marvin loathes his ability to feel human emotions and wishes that he could be a senseless steel slave.
Because of this desire to be without feelings and exert no energy, Marvin commits one of the seven deadly sins: sloth. According to Princeton University, sloth is “apathy and inactivity in the practice of virtue” ( ). Henry Fairlie, in his lengthy diatribe on current culture The Seven Deadly Sins Today, offers a sincere warning to people seized by sloth: “Diligence overcomes difficulties, sloth makes them” (98). Despite his admonition, people today have resorted to sloth because one requires less energy in a state of ennui.
Additionally, today’s sloth has even gained the slang name “couch potato. ” And for all those degenerate drones, our industry has produced video games and TV dinners. Altogether, Fairlie believes that once people adhere themselves to the lifestyle of a sloth, they have lost their individuality to the deep lint-infested depths of the couch. In consummation, Adams ironically hints that human depression has reached such a critical point that it is even beginning to affect objects that normally don’t feel emotions.