In his poem, “One of the Monkeys,” Nicholas Johnson describes monkeys typing Shakespeare while being observed by a crowd of strangers. They are writing “Hamlet” by Shakespeare, which they have never read. Johnson’s poem explains the process of writing and the feelings associated with it. He does not celebrate or criticize the process; rather, he lists the feelings without the use of human examples. Johnson gives insight into the emotions of writing. He proves that writing is not bland, and that it can involve amusement, confusion, anguish, and motivation.
Johnson sets a tone for the reader that changes over time in order to express an alteration in emotion. He first starts comically and unrealistically, saying, “I’m one of the monkeys they’ve got typing,” which is meant to amuse the reader, but then says, “They stay too long… but the bananas flow,” showing confusion of the monkeys; they want to leave but they need the bananas. Toward the end he says, “One ...view middle of the document...
” This simile demonstrates frustration in the process of writing. The writer is watcher his father die, but he does not know what to do. This is similar to “writer’s block,” as the writer has already set up a situation, but does not know how to continue. By showing frustration through a simile, Johnson relates to the writer in the real world.
Johnson’s allusion to “Hamlet” demonstrates his appreciation for writing. He says, “it’s a crazy, morbid, ranting play, a stew full of murder, love, but with a noble feel.” As the monkeys are writing the play, they do not know what it is about, and yet, they already know how they feel about it. Johnson uses this allusion to show that the feelings that one gets while writing are more important than the writing itself. That is after all, the purpose of writing: not to bore the reader OR the writer with meaningless words, but to instill powerful emotions, whether they are bliss, agony, fear, or rage. Johnson shows why writing is important by using a reference that has influenced many people.
Johnson uses the metaphor “One of the Monkeys” in the title to show that just writing is not enough, but that the success is in what it does to the reader. In the beginning, he says, “I’m one of the monkeys they’ve got typing in a room.” Monkeys, in comparison to humans, are primitive and uncivilized. He compares monkeys to humans in order to show that anyone can write, but only some can do it meaningfully and incorporate emotion into their work. The people are only amazed at the aforementioned emotions in the play, not the monkeys who are writing it, or even the fact that they are. Johnson shows in the start how important it is not only to be interested in writing, but the significance of pouring out intense emotions in it.
The emotions work with the writing to impact the reader. Nicholas Johnson shows that he understands that writing is not an occupation where feelings should be hidden, but quite the opposite in fact. “One of the Monkeys” connects with the reader by first connecting with the writer. He does not intend to give a monologue about typing with monkeys, but uses that to convey many other feelings. Johnson shows us that there is no success in typing insignificant words on a page, and that excitement, pain, and sorrow are truly what make writing great.