What is the meaning behind the final scene of the film 2001: A Space Odyssey?  (Victorian style bedroom, Dave seeing himself, etc.)

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mstultz72 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The Stargate sequence in Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey culminates in the final evolutionary change of the human race.

At the beginning of the epic film, the aliens plant the first monolith in Africa so that the apes will evolve by using technology.  They go from vegetarians hiding in caves to carnivorous predators due to the implementation of using bones as weapons.

The next monolith on the moon is a trigger for humans to further evolve by exploring deeper into space.  So, Dave mans the Jupiter space station.  The problems with H.A.L. are indicative of man's over-reliance on and ultimate disappointment in technology.

The third monolith triggers the Stargate sequence, which is symbolic of Dave's rebirth.  He is metaphorically traveling through the birth canal, on his way to being reborn.

The fourth and final monolith is found in the Victorian room.  This room symbolizes all that the Victorian culture of manners did: prudish morality, uber-manners, stratified social classes, a belief that science could be a panacea--all at the end of a century.  As such, it is a stuffy and dying era.  The aliens know their literature, and they stage the funeral of man here to show that the 21st Century is a new era.

Kubrick uses several jump cuts to speed up time in the Victorian room.  First, Dave breathes using the space suit.  Then, we see Dave age visibly (wrinkles around the eyes).  He sees himself in the bathroom mirror to show the shame (bathroom) and vanity (mirror) of mankind.

Next, we see Dave lying on the bed without the space suit.  Finally, with the monolith at the foot of his bed, we see him transform into the Star Child floating toward earth without a space suit.  He's noticeably more evolved than an average infant (over-sized eyes and head), and he has a glowing membrane around him.

This final evolutionary change by the aliens is intended for man to stop relying on technology (computers, space craft, and space suits).  Dave becomes a Star Child, a more highly evolved species who is headed toward earth to start a new race of Star Children.  In this way, he is like Adam of Genesis.