Explain the various themes of "The Sound Machine" by Roald Dahl.

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Obsession is undoubtedly one of the main themes in this remarkable short story. Klausner's experiments with the sound machine start off as just a harmless bit of fun. But as he penetrates deeper and deeper into the secrets of nature, he becomes ever more obsessed, spending virtually all of his...

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Obsession is undoubtedly one of the main themes in this remarkable short story. Klausner's experiments with the sound machine start off as just a harmless bit of fun. But as he penetrates deeper and deeper into the secrets of nature, he becomes ever more obsessed, spending virtually all of his free time listening in to the previously hidden sounds of the natural world.

It's never explicitly spelled out, but it does seem that Klausner appears to be suffering from some kind of mental illness. The fact that he's gently led away by Dr. Scott at the end of the story would certainly seem to suggest this. At the very least, one can say that Klausner's single-minded obsession with the sound machine certainly hasn't done his mental health any favors.

A number of commentators have drawn attention to Dahl's exploration of the theme of man versus nature. The idea that nature can feel pain, that it can express suffering at man's abuse of it, is suggestive of a modern-day environmental parable on the relationship between man and the natural world. Through his experiments with the sound machine, Klausner has been able to glean a unique insight into the damage that man so often does to the world around him. For the first time, he can empathize with nature's sufferings at the hands of his fellow men.

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