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A Literary Review Of The Ticktockman By Harlan Ellison

652 words - 3 pages

While the words of “’Repent, Harlequin!’ said the Ticktockman” are new, the story is familiar. The ending is predictable; the reader knows that the Harlequin will be caught and the simple order of the dystopian society will be restored. The predictability of the conclusion is not a fault of Ellison’s writing, rather a merit. Ellison uses in depth characterization balanced with ironic outbursts and a mismatched plot to create a story that is predictable, for the right reasons, but memorable, for the wrong reasons.
In order to break free of time and its clutch on humanity, Harlan Ellison advises the reader to become to the Harlequin. Through satire and lack of structure, Ellison alerts the reader of the winding road down which society is headed, a wakeup call to the truth. The lack of typical literary tools, such as flashbacks and foreshadowing, transform Ellison himself into a harlequin. Both he and the fictitious Harlequin wreak havoc on a time progression that they will destroy and recreate. Satire, employed liberally and sporadically, warns of homogeneity of modern life. By ignoring the rules of a conventional time sequence, Ellison acts as a rebel to “proper” writing and satirizes the supposed future of mankind.
By characterizing the Harlequin with a humorous personality Ellison creates a character founded on his own ideals. The Harlequin consistently challenges the masses, and interrogates workers, asking “why let [the Ticktockman] order you about?” thus challenging rule and common law (8). He suggests the people “take [their] time” and enjoy “the sunshine, enjoy the breeze, [and] let life carry [them] at [their] own pace!” (8) The Harlequin opens their minds to the truth, an old lifestyle, a nearly forgotten past, a time when men were not slaves. Ellison creates a rebellious man to voice his own belief that time must not control the lives of the man, but rather guide him to success. The dialogue of the Harlequin provides...

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