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“The Zoo Story” by Edward Albee

Jul 5, 2019 at Literature Essays

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“The Zoo Story” by Edward Albee is a play about two men, Peter and Jerry. It is an exciting story, which catches reader’s attention from the first word and keeps it until the very end. The most important issue of the story is loneliness. Apparently, there is a considerable number of people who feel lonely despite the fact that there are thousands of people around them. The author shows that loneliness can result not only in alienation of the person, but also can lead to the person’s death.

At the beginning of the story, Peter and Jerry seem to be two ordinary men. However, there is a significant difference between them because their lives are completely different. Talking about Peter, he is married and has two daughters, two cats and two parakeets. He has a perfect life for the man of his age, namely early forties, and he is satisfied with everything he has. Jerry, on the contrary, in his early thirties rents a flat, does not have a wife, children, or a dog; in fact, he does not even have a proper friend. Even though Jerry lives in Manhattan, which is probably one of the most crowded cities in the world, he feels lonely all the time. There is no one in the world who cares about him and understands what he feels. In his play “The Zoo Story”, the author reflects existentialism of the twentieth century.


Apparently, in the past, it was much easier to become friends with someone than it is nowadays. People in the modern society become too alienated from each other. The best exemplification of this argument is Jerry’s life. Edward Albee clearly shows that Jerry did not want to feel lonely anymore. In fact, Jerry wanted to establish a bond with people, even with a dog; however, he did not succeed in it. Peter was a complete stranger to Jerry. However, Jerry decided that it would be better to share his life story with Peter than to stay alone. Jerry started his conversation with Peter because he wanted someone to listen to him. It is obvious that felt that he wanted someone to understand what he felt and to explain that he had reasons for his strange behavior. The reader can conclude that Jerry’s efforts to overcome loneliness resulted in his death.

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It is evident that Jerry wanted to die because he felt that the community could not perceive him. In fact, no one seemed to understand what he felt. Consequently, his inability to establish a proper bond with anybody, not even a dog, incensed him. Therefore, he decided that he wanted Peter to listen to the story of his life and then to kill him. However, because of the complete loneliness, Jerry gave Peter a knife and then threw himself onto it. Jerry did not want the police to blame Peter for murder, so he wiped the knife handle clean of fingerprints and told Peter to go away before the police came. In fact, Peter did not want to kill Jerry at all. Moreover, Peter did not even understand how it happened. Thus, Jerry took the whole responsibility for his own murder.

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It is irritating that Jerry cared about his own feelings and wanted other people to understand him; however, he did not care about Peter’s feelings. He did not think what effect his own murder would produce on Peter. Moreover, he did not care that the plan of his murder by a stranger will ruin the other person’s life. Thus, even though Peter’s life seemed to be perfect for a man of his age before Jerry’s death, afterwards, his life would never be the same again. Consequently, guilt for Jerry’s accidental murder will destroy Peter from the inside because even though he did not plan to kill Jerry, it was he, who held the weapon, which became the reason of Jerry’s death.


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To conclude, “The Zoo Story” by Edward Albee is an exciting and intriguing play, which keeps reader’s attention until the very end. It is hard to dispute with the author that loneliness can lead to death because it produces a destructive effect on person’s life. Even though Jerry tried to establish a bond with other people, he failed to succeed, which, as a result, destroyed his life. Jerry decided to tell the story of his life to a complete stranger and then commit his own murder.

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