Analysis of “The Murderer”

Published: 2021/11/04
Number of words: 1232

The Dark Reality

“The Murderer”, by Ray Bradbury, concerns the extreme use of technology in society. The main character who questions the unnecessary use of electronic devices in everyday life is considered crazy. Bradbury’s use of humor and descriptions, along with the characters, highlights the message that revolves around how humanity has become addicted to technology.

The immediate use of technology is seen as the story begins. The psychiatrist consults with “The Murderer” who has committed several crimes. His constant refusal of the simplest of realities in the environment led him to the mental hospital. Throughout the long monologue, “The Murderer” reveals how he wants silence and is fed up with how technology has invaded every aspect of society. The psychiatrist, surprised by the extent the man hates technology, asks if he has felt any remorse about his actions while wrapping up his investigation. “I would do it all over again, so help me God” is “The Murderer’s” answer to the question.[1] The answer gives the psychiatrist more thought and he reports the diagnosis that the man is “disoriented but convivial” and that his condition will continue indefinitely.[2] Finishing up the case, the physiatrist spends the rest of his day responding to his wrist radio, intercom, and telephone.

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In the story, the protagonist is viewed as a villain in his society, but on the other hand, the psychiatrist represents the majority of the society. Mr. Albert Brock, who is referred to as “The Murderer”, destroys all electronics around him. His negative perspective on technology, followed by his actions, has led him to the mental hospital for an evaluation. During his first consultation with the psychiatrist, he took the psychiatrist’s watch and “tucked it in his teeth like a walnut, gritted and heard it crack”.[3] The protagonist appears as being committed to his cause even though he is violent at times, and is characterized heroically, trying to improve the society. The psychiatrist, however, is a static character, who is driven by technology both at the beginning and at the end. He does not agree with “The Murderer’s” beliefs on technology and represents the majority of people that are constantly using electronic devices.

Humor and irony are major components throughout the story. Already, in the beginning, there is both humor and irony in the title, “The Murderer” that in reality implies the death of humans, represents him “killing” electronics. Another use of irony is seen in the repeated use of the word “convenient”, by the reason that it may be convenient for one person to be in touch with someone, even though it might not be convenient for the other person. Bradbury uses these literary devices to amplify and highlight the message on how technology can harm society, by creating some irony to the seriousness. He makes the destruction of an electronic device seem like a serious crime. On the other hand, Bradbury also uses personification as another literary device to highlight the message.

The utilization of personification throughout the story creates a deeper understanding of the contents of the plot. Bradbury gives life to electronic devices to highlight their importance and how humans prioritize these devices in their everyday life. “I just kicked the radio to death” is one of the first personifications in the story. The radio does not have a life, however, saying that it is now killed, creates a deeper connection to the importance of these devices in humanity. Another instance of personification is later in the story where the protagonist has decided to “kill” the electronics, he runs into the kitchen where the stove is whining “Turn me over”.[4] Using this device, the author has given the electronics a life of their own, which signifies the message.

The short dystopian story, thematizes the challenges in society related to the use of technology. The message thus deals with this and how electronics affect the lives of individuals, making us less social. Bradbury tries throughout the story to convey a message about how dependent we have become on these devices and that we should limit and control the time we spend with electronics. He highlights that there is still some hope left and that there is still time to change our actions. The message is to not let technology overrun our world and our social behavior. Using significant literary devices and a protagonist who seems crazy at first, Bradbury raises questions to the society, that is still relevant today.

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Even though, the text was written more than 60 years ago the story continues to stay relevant in today’s world. When Bradbury wrote the story in 1953, technology was developing rapidly, however, the situation in the 21st century adds complexity and depth to the original story. Technology has become even more controlling. With smartphones and social media, many people spend hours using electronic devices.[5] Millennials, mostly, tend to prioritize electronics rather than socializing with people and spending time with family and friends.[6] The protagonist has not hurt anyone, on the contrary, he expresses his opinions by behaving violently – so what is the reason for him being shut out from society? It is possible that the members of the society feel insecure about the impact technology has in their lives, and hence they are punishing “The Murderer” for his critique. This can seem to be the issue today as well, where people who choose not to engage are regarded as outsiders. Are we also fearful that they are questioning our dependency on electronics? Whatever, the reality may be, this story will continue to stay relevant in today’s world.

Ray Bradbury has highlighted the challenges society faces concerning the use of technology, by use of various literary devices and a complex character. At the same time, he also conveys a message that there is still time to change our behavior, by controlling the time spent on these devices. The story sums up the complex reality of the world today and seemingly at that time, by highlighting the problems that technology creates.


[1] Bradbury, 1953, p. 112.

[2] Bradbury, 1953, p. 114.

[3] Bradbury, 1953, p. 108.

[4] Bradbury, 1953, p. 112.



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