The Plot

(Critical Survey of Science Fiction and Fantasy)

The play begins at a time that is possibly the early 1920’s, on an unspecified island somewhere on Earth. A factory called R.U.R. (an acronym for Rossum’s Universal Robots) manufactures and exports thousands of artificial people, the so-called Robots.

Helena, a daughter of a renowned scientist, Dr. Glory, goes to the island on behalf of the Humanity League to investigate the condition of the Robots. She is told that the elderly Professor Rossum began to seek a sort of scientific substitute for God, with the sole purpose of supplying proof that Providence was no longer necessary. His son had a different goal, that of making live and intelligent working machines that would provide cheap labor. As Domain, the General Manager for Rossum’s Universal Robots explains, humans are too complicated, and a good engineer could make them more simply, which is exactly what the younger Rossum has done. The result is a mechanism that resembles a human in some ways but shows striking differences.

Amid the handful of humans, surrounded by a hundred thousand Robots, Helena stays on the island much longer than planned. She expresses her sadness as well as her intent to liberate the Robots. She fears that no more children will be born and too many mindless Robots will be produced. She influences one of the engineers, Dr. Gall, to provide the Robots with souls in order to improve their lot; he does so because he is in love with her, as are all others. She...

(The entire section is 478 words.)