Analysis Of 'Repent, Harlequin' By Harlan Ellison

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“’Repent, Harlequin!’ Said the Ticktockman ” by Harlan Ellison was initially published in the Galaxy Science Fiction magazine in 1965. The text is set in a dystopian future where the lives of its citizens are governed according to a tight schedule administered by a robot-like character known as the Ticktockman. They maintain an unflinching reverence towards punctuality to ensure that their lives progress according to the schedule without any delays. In the midst of all this, is the Harlequin, whose tardiness has landed him in hot soup with the Ticktockman. The text narrates his exploits and their effects on society and his subsequent capture and punishment by the Ticktockman. In a letter to Stephen King, Harlan Ellison identified his works as “foursquare for chaos” and his preference to be acknowledged as a ”troublemaker, malcontent” and “desperado”. The Harlequin’s anarchist and revolutionary actions in a conformist civilization can be viewed as a reflection of the author’s self-characterisation as a maverick. Therefore, the text could be interpreted as an exploration into individualism and its rejection of conformity to societal conventions. The author begins his story with an excerpt from Henry David Thoreau 's essay “Civil disobedience”. In the excerpt, the majority of men are portrayed as “machines” serving the state with “no free exercise whatever of the judgement”. Their existence is likened to that of wood and stone which, by themselves do not possess the
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