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I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream Analysis

Brandt Ward & Maddie Crabtree

Brandt Ward & Maddie Crabtree

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Trapped in the post-apocalyptic world, 5 people are wandering around the world hoping to find a solution to escape the living hell they have been living in for 109 years. This is the base story of “I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream” by Harlan Ellison. Later produced into a point and click adventure game for the PC.

The story itself is relatively short sitting at about 12 pages on a typical pdf. Traversing throughout the disaster of the area we now call “world” that was destroyed by a supercomputer AI that was trained for war who went overboard and wiped the entire existence of our world. This supercomputer is referred to as AM. AM hated humanity due to simply creating it. Trapping it inside a computer known only for vengeance and anger. Out of this anger, happiness cannot be achieved. It simply isn’t in its programming. The only thing it knows how to do is make others suffer.

The abnormal part about AM  is that AM has seemingly unnatural powers. It can force people to do things they don’t want to do, and through this can truly make people suffer. Abusing five separate different people based on each of their weaknesses. One was a rape victim, another was a gay scientist who was forced to be straight and be hypersexual, another being a Nazi who is regretful of his actions, one regretting his actions he has done to his wife, and finally our narrator who isn’t explicitly described in any sort of way. The weaknesses of each of the members are exploited and abused forcing them to relive their nightmares in many different forms.

Personally, I enjoyed the short. I did feel as though the story was a bit bland somewhat and could have been done quite a bit better. The characters actions seemed relatively applicable to anyone else in the story so diversity in characteristics is very sparse. The plot and setting, as well as writing, was amazing but the characters were hard to relate to as well as not being super diverse despite their backgrounds. The plot, however, was so deep and easy to get into which makes up for the bland characters quite well I would say. If you want to read a story more about the plot and ideas this is your way to go.

While this short is written beautifully and elegantly, it is extremely gory and depressing. Recommendations for this short would apply to people who are able to handle very intense subject and are looking for a short experience that will shape the way they see life as a whole.

About the Contributor
Brandt Ward, Perspectives Reporter

Brandt Ward is a Junior. He is a perspectives writer who recently just joined newspaper. He looks forward to contributing his creative writing and analysis skills.

1 Comment

One Response to “I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream Analysis”

  1. Chroma on September 28th, 2018 8:17 am

    It should be noted that the adventure game adaptation’s story is wholly separate from that of the short story, and does a good bit for building on the characters’ personalities. I don’t quite remember enough to say this with complete certainty, but I believe it takes place after the short story.

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I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream Analysis