Compare the experiences of Charlie and Algernon in Flowers for Algernon.

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In both Charlie and Algernon the same process has been carried out in which intelligence is artificially increased, though the result is not permanent. Charlie experiences life as a brilliant man, then has to suffer a reversal of the change in which his intelligence level begins to decrease, and he once again becomes mentally disabled and awaits his probable death, just as has happened to Algernon.

Your question brings up the issue of what animals are capable of experiencing both intellectually and emotionally. The poignancy of Charlie's story lies in his awareness of what is happening to him as the process reverses itself and he realizes he'll become what he once was, a man who is (in the parlance of that time) mentally retarded. From the standpoint of emotion and self-awareness, Charlie would have been better off if the experiment had never been carried out and he had never been given a chance to experience life as not only a mentally "normal" person, but a genius as well.

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Last Reviewed by eNotes Editorial on January 2, 2020
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Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on October 15, 2019