Intelligence And Ignorance In Flowers For Algernon

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“A little learning is a dangerous thing, but a lot of ignorance is just as bad.” This quote, by famous journalist and radio host Bob Edwards, encompasses a question that haunts readers throughout the writing of Flowers for Algernon. Flowers for Algernon, a short story by Daniel Keyes, is about a man named Charlie who is mentally dull, and undergoes an operation in an attempt to surgically alter his brain to triple his I.Q. The former quote brings up the topic of how Intelligence and Ignorance are both dangerous in different ways, and though having abundant intelligence may seem like a dream, perhaps it isn't as wonderful as one may think. After all, those with ignorance, the naive, are often the most blissful, while geniuses may experience…show more content…
Charlie Gordon, a mentally dull adult wants to be chosen for an operation that would triple his I.Q, because, as he says on page 2, “I told them because all my life I wanted to be smart and not dumb. But it's very hard to be smart.”Charlie wants to push himself to go further, for all his life he has been considered inferior and pushed around, although sometimes his low levels of intelligence meant he couldn't understand the --- nature of many of the people around him. All the while, he pushed the limits of his intelligence, never able to be as smart as an average person in the world. Starting at the beginning of the story, Charlie leads a life, though most likely not seen so by the rest of society, of content, one almost of blissfulness in his ignorance. Inferior is how the rest of the world and people around him see Charlie, simply due to his lack of intelligence, however, when Charlie starts to become smarter, another feeling creeps into their hearts. Fear. One of Charlie's co-workers, Fanny, the only one in fact who did not sign a petition to fire him from work, says on page 14 and 15, “...there's something strange about you, Charlie. Them changes. I don't know… Who knows what you done to yourself to get so smart all of a sudden. Like everybody around here’s been saying Charlie, it’s not right.” Like many others, Fanny is frightened, if not disturbed, by Charlies unnatural advancement. For one thing, Charlie’s increased intelligence forces people around him to see Charlie a new light, they begin to see Charlie as a real human being. Consequently, however, his advancement also leads them to question what Charlie did to make himself this smart, as their religious beliefs and moralities start to push them into the idea that Charlie has done something wrong, or -----. Charlie says on page 15, after listing to Fanny talk about his change, “This
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