Planet of the Apes Essay - Critical Essays

Pierre Boulle

Critical Survey of Science Fiction and Fantasy Planet of the Apes Analysis

The values intimated by the plot are those of individual worth, including personal responsibility, objective inquiry, disregard of physical differences, and familial cohesion. The society on Soror from which Ulysse escapes is the same as that of twentieth century Europe and America, with some utopian exceptions. Its members have resolved the problems that culminate in war and racial violence. There are no national divisions. The entire planet is governed by an egalitarian parliament representing the unilingual races of Gorillas, who are the executives and hunters, Orangutans, who are the traditionalist academicians, and Chimpanzees, who are the true intellectuals and enlightened scientists. Criminal activity is contained by effective police forces, and political ambitions are checked by administrative balances and interdependence.

The tripartite society recalls that of Plato’s Politeia. The Gorillas are closely akin to Plato’s powerful epi-kouroi (auxiliaries); the Orangutans are phylakes (guardians) but less noble, because of their reactionary petti-ness, than Plato’s guardians; and the Chimpanzees are, as demiourgoi, superior to Plato’s craftsmen because of their heightened intellectualism.

The reluctance of Soror’s guardians to accept the findings of objective research—especially the discovery that their civilization derived from a preexistent human civilization—is a satirical comment on the...

(The entire section is 418 words.)