Whenever English authors or writers have to analyze human nature or human behaviours to chastise, make fun of them, or criticize, they use satire type of writing. Satire belongs to the genre of performing arts and literature, where everything takes place darkly and humorously. In simple words, Satire intends to highlight something about depicting characters or events. In this blog post, you will know a popular Satire novel Erewhon and its author named Samuel Butler.
Overview of Erewhon
Initially, Samuel Butler published his Erewhon satirical novel anonymously in the year 1872. However, the book has become a matter of reputation and success for Butler during his lifetime. The reason is that the author got immediate approval for his novel. Moreover, the work has let Butler earn a massive profit.
Countries Covered in the Novel Erewhon
While reading the novel, you will know that its opening chapters are according to the recollections done by Samuel Butler of the upper areas of the famous Rangitoto Mountains in New Zealand. The author used an exclusive narrative style to mention the hollow statues present at the top of the Rangitoto Mountain Pass.
Moreover, his writings mentioned vibrating winds and unearthly chords, which create an effective transition to the beyond strange land. The people and landscape of Erewhon are according to those found in the northern area of Italy. However, Erewhon institutions are combinations of satiric inversions and utopians of today’s world.
The Novel as the Anagram of Nowhere
Samuel Butler sets the name of his novel as an anagram for the word nowhere. The plot starts as one of the adventurous stories. It also has the convention of making the journey to an imaginary place.
Whether the Novel is Utopian
According to the narrator, Erewhon’s novel appears to be utopian based on the disregard for money. According to the book, the disease is a type of crime, for which sick people suffer imprisonment. In other words, the author and the book consider crime a disease. Hence, people send criminals to the hospital. People of Erewhon believe that disease will produce a race-related to physical strength and beauty. They punish disease as any crime and treat patients like criminals.
However, as the narrator examines various Erewhon institutions, his utopia illusions, and eternal progress stripe away automatically. Other than that, the people of Erewhon have abolished machines long ago. The reason is that they perceive machines as their dangerous competitors in their struggle to exist in this world.
Themes of the Novel Erewhon by Samuel Butler
Samuel Butler highlights many themes in his Erewhon novel. These are Good Vs Evil, Journey of the Hero, and the aspects of perseverance and courage. You will get the evidence of each of these themes in different settings of the novel. Simultaneously, the book mentions an internal struggle with physical obstacles faced by the narrator.
Good Vs Evil
Samuel Butler creates a different world, where ideas related to good and evil going on contrary to his notions related to good and evil. The narrator has to put his best efforts into assimilating into the culture of Erewhon. In this way, diseased people never end up going to prison.
In contrast, the narrator works to understand and learn both customs and philosophy followed by the people of Erewhon. Simultaneously, he continues to hold his perceptions and beliefs. At the end of the story, the narrator escapes the novel by keeping his beliefs intact and continues to make commitments towards his religion.
Perseverance and Courage
The narrator stays captive of the people of Erewhon. However, he got well treatment and never felt threatened by the Erewhonians. Instead, he faced an internal war. As mentioned before, people of Erewhon believe that poor health and poverty are crimes, as they imply illnesses.
The narrator observes that such practices and beliefs are abhorrent. When he comes to know that he will be a guest of a family of a reputed businessperson, he becomes horrified. The reason is that the respective person is getting a kleptomania bout, for which he embezzled a lump sum amount of money.
Here, Samuel Butler, the narrator attempts to express that the beliefs of Erewhon people are wrong. He also wants to introduce them to the beliefs of the Christian community. Nevertheless, he tries his best to adhere to Erewhon’s customs and continue with his own beliefs. In the country of nowhere, beliefs are blasphemous and they exacerbate tenuous law standings. The narrator shows his courage to walk every day in the Erewhon society to learn its customs and laws in detail.
During his complete stay in Erewhon, the author analyzed the ways and lifestyles of the respective people. Hence, he appreciates a few aspects of the life lead by Erewhon individuals. The beauty of Erewhon women has especially inspired the narrator. On the other side, the author continues to follow his values. He continues his beliefs until he succeeds to escape from Erewhon and return to his native country England to express himself freely.
Journey of the Hero
In Erewhon by Samuel Butler, the narrator himself is the hero of the entire story. He often travels to distant places of the world. During his journey to Erewhon, he encounters multiple mental and physical challenges. Later, he managed to return home with his intact beliefs. However, he acquired new knowledge to fulfill his dream to improve today’s world.
The narrator sails from England to visit an island colony. On reaching the island, he endures many hardships in the quest while discovering its interior aspects. He made a journey on treacherous terrains and suffered imprisonment from the people of Erewhon. The island people even forced him to hide his sole values to survive there.
The narrator does not lose his values and beliefs just by learning the ways of the Erewhon people. Instead, he solely believes that he will get insights into the mindset of Erewhon people by studying them quietly. Hence, with little and consistent effort he can convert the mindset of Erewhon citizens to the ones belonging to the Christian community.