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Cloud Atlas Literary Analysis

David Mitchells cloud Atlas will is a novel, which tells a story of ethics; philosophy, morals, physiological belief, hard times, and personal struggles intertwined with six different comprehensive narratives, which give us a snapshot of humanity. The novel examines the atrocious acts and crimes, humankind has committed over the ages to maintain their hold on power by preying on the week. Mitchell examines predatory nature of people and groups who will do anything to accumulate power no matter the effect or cost it afflicts on others. From the mid-19th century to the end of a post-apocalyptic future, Mitchell explores the nature of predation within people poisoning each other and selfconsumption leads to an unseen inevitable destruction. Start to finish David Mitchell is an underlying concept like a Russian doll, each story on its own can be held to be complete however, as each story progresses it forms a container within that the foundation of the next story emerges and seamlessly transitions as if one cannot exist without the other. One model of time: an infinite matrioshka dall of painted moments, each shell is encased inside a nest of shells, I call the future but which we perceive as the virtual future (David Mitchell, Cloud Atlas.Pg. 409). The reader is taken on an intellectual roller coaster bursting with emotion, tragedy, hope, and rebirth, which the reader tries to make sense of the book, therefore; inquiring individual meanings from its texts.

Humanity is greatly influenced by the dynamics of power within interpersonal relationships. Natural predation can almost be explained as a parasite that is waiting for the perfect host latch onto and suck the life out of. The Parasite Dr. Goose in the Adam Ewings story provides a great example of the predatory nature. He preys on the week such as cats prey on mice, and first mates prey on cabin boys. The week are meat, the strong do eat( David Mitchell, Cloud Atlas.Pg. 523-4) as Dr. Goose poisons Adam Ewing in a slow coldhearted way to steal his fortune, he inherently neglects to realize the power of the human relationship between Ewing and Autua. Autua realizing that the man who saved his life was now slowly being killed, so he intervened. In an alternative predatory notion, the man needing to be saved could be considered weak, and the rescuer only acts out of self-interest. Doing these acts automatically degrades the person being saved and they are now in debt to this person. In some instances, this is a predatory act of personal interest so they may have somebody in debt to them. Autua within you Ewings debt he feels obligated to serve in and in the end the debt repaid, in turn changing the power dynamic. Mitchell will portray such ideas with the Swannekke island security chief Joe Napier, who was rescued by Luisa Rays father, he tells Luisa the most humiliating thing you can do to a man is to save his life( David Mitchell, Cloud Atlas.Pg. 415). As assassin Bill Smoke attempts to kill Luisa, Napiers fulfills his debt to her father by saving her life, however according to him he humiliates Luisa in the process. In the story of Luisa Ray, predation seems to invade the capitalistic role on societies and the characters within the novel. It is a Story of corporate America corrupted by using illegal means to manipulate all situations whatever the cost as long as the power remains in their favor. From sweatshop workers to nuclear waste with the potential use to make nuclear weapons, capitalism is portrayed as a corrupt and is responsible for all the controversial activities. This brings us to the story of Sonmi-415 with a society where technological advancement triumphs over moral obligation. This resulted in a society with genetically engineered fabricant clones designed to be used as slaves for a consumer driven

industry known as Nea So Copros. This unchecked power over people and predatory nature leads to endless consumption and a post-apocalyptic world of the Valley tribe. The main theme behind these turn of events is our predatory natures and all that goes along with it the need to conquer, consume, and in turn destroy with no acknowledgment of the possible consequences of their actions. Mitchell portrays a postmodern society within Sonmis world where consumer capitalism ignores the impacts they have on the world and a society that is slowly poisoning in itself to death. Poisoning coupled with predation is a theme that runs throughout Mitchells novel not necessarily poisoning the world; it could be the literal poisoning by the hand of Dr. Goose in the Adam Ewings story. Poisoning can take many forms and can be forcing on you to retain certain knowledge or the lack of knowledge, the power of suggestion often times is invoked by poisoning their brains will without their knowledge, it is used to retain power over a situation by preying on others. The environment, people, or thoughts can be potential candidates for poisoning, but peoples minds most of all. People with power often like to keep that power by poisoning the minds of a race or culture that could possibly overthrow that power. Knowledge can cause the downfall in the hierarchy of power if a certain group or community discovers the truth, therefore; poisoning of the mind, forgetting the past, or keeping people in the dark are what a predatory society uses to stay in control. Us. Fabricants. We cost almost nothing to manufacture and have no awkward hankerings for a better, freer life. We conveniently xpire after forty-eight hours without a specialized Soap and so cannot run away.(Mitchell cloud Atlas 336 for Sonmi and all the other fabricants are poisoned by their so-called soap which numbs their senses and makes them compliant. The price of knowledge can be high; as Sonmi goes to a place called Xultation, where she discovers that its not the Paradise they said it would be, instead after 12 years of service, the fabricants are instead murdered and remanufactured into the soap they consume every day. (David Mitchell, Cloud Atlas.Pg. 347) (summary ) The lack of knowledge of which what is really happening keeps the society compliant and the fabricants physically and on the drug so it is impossible

for revolution. If everyone knew what was going on the fabricants and society would be outrage so the capitalistic government keeps this knowledge a secret in order to maintain control over the population. I believe Mitchell is trying to say that the cannibalism is a metaphor for the predacious capitalist greed and the lack of regard to the consequences has led to our self-consumption and inevitable destruction. Starting at the beginning of the novel connections with predation and capitalists bleed through the text. The Europeans arriving to uncharted territory realize they can gain power and profit by degrading the people and communities so they may harvest the wealth from the land and control more territory. By labeling the indigenous people as barbaric and uncivilized, they take control of a small civilization with no prior need of defense. They take advantage of the weak to fulfill their desire for control and riches no matter the consequences. Mitchell expresses the heart of predation, is the strong preying on the weak. As Adam Ewing walks on the beach, encounters Dr. Goose, and inquires about his actions Teeth, sir, are the enameled grails of the quest in hand. In days gone by this Arcadian strand was a cannibals banqueting hall, yes, where the strong engorged themselves on the weak.just as that scented She-Donkey is addressing her Ambassadors Ball, I, Henry Goose, yes, I shall arise & declare to one & all that our hostess masticates with cannibals gnashers!( David Mitchell, Cloud Atlas.Pg. 3) Dr. Goose plans to make cannibal dentures in order to invoke humiliation upon a woman who compromised his reputation. Another example of redistribution of power as people within any moment may have the upper hand they use it to degrade other people. However, in the end they just consume themselves, they may be dentures made from cannibals teeth but the actions of predation has inadvertently ruined and degraded both of their own reputations and they are just destroying themselves. Mitchell expresses in his novel that the desire to retain power is so strong and it leads to more predacious acts to try and retain what they once had. For example, Frobisher and Ayrs share unique but predacious and poisoning

relationship. Arys is crippled and unable to play or compose music by himself. The desire to retain the power he had the famous composer led him to employ Frobisher even to the point of poisoning his reputation to enable his own success. On the other hand, Frobishers starving for the fame with his cloud Atlas sextet he preys upon the weakness of Ayrs crippled condition and extreme actions as well as extreme consequences without a second thought. Now once again they have both cannibalize themselves because of the desire for power and success with the nature of predation at its core. Mitchell exhibits the extreme consequences and self-destruction, which is preceded by predacious acts. Making the wrong decision is a realization and thought which is carried out throughout the novel, Ewing is this character; I believe examines the poor choices humanity has made, in the most depth. The end of the world is humanities oldest past time The end is what we want, I am so afraid the end is what were dam well going to get (David Mitchell, Cloud Atlas.Pg. 471) Mitchell seems to lay out an entire history of the world exhibiting the mistakes humankind makes by being consumed with power and predation. I believe the novel is trying to tell us if we continue down this path of poisoning our brothers and sisters, consuming ourselves, and becoming a slave to corruption this will lead to our destruction. However, what if we could change, can we learn from the mistakes and devastation from those who came before us or destined to repeat the same mistakes of our ancestors. Mitchell shows us our desire to change our path after the mistakes have been made. Timothy escapes from the Aurora house compelled to see the place destroyed, Luisa still tempts fate trying to expose the corruption of corporations even after several assassination attempts, Ewing after surviving his return to America devotes his life to attempt to change the world. The greatest notion I got from Mitchells novel is that we are destroying the world because of our choices to pray upon one another for personal gain. Society can exist if we stop search for ways to gain power over one another, this is portrayed especially in Zacharys narrative where the individual choices he made by overcoming the desire for control of

something he does not understand, learning the truth and acting for everyones interest shows that our future is not predetermined. I hope that someday we can all overcome our predatory nature.