Ethics play a large part in the play. They encourage the thought of how society treats people with low intelligence. The way that society treats people different from themselves is shown clearly by the event which happened in the coffee shop, when the young mentally handicapped man in the shop drops the plates.
The immediate reaction of the customers is one of spite and jeering. “Good catch! Nice one! Well, he didn’t work here long’. This shows that the initial reaction of most people towards those who are of different intelligence is one that makes them feel lonely. These people are used most commonly for a cheap laugh, and Charlie realizes this, and then is struck with what he did. “…My God” The factory workers are a prime example of how society tolerates individuals with low intelligence.
For example, before, when Charlie had a low IQ, they treat him as his superiors, and used him as the source of cheap laughs. When Charlie’s intelligence increases, they grow insecure and frightened. When Charlie gives his suggestion that the machines in the factory could be arranged in a different way, this makes Joe, Frank and other factory workers feel less superior to him. This is mainly because since factory workers are not very high on societies scale, there are few that they can feel superior to.
One of these few people is Charlie, and when he becomes more intelligent then them, they feel that they have no one to look down on anymore, and feel scared. When Joe says “What’d they do Charlie? Put some brains in?”, it clearly shows the superiority which they feel over Charlie. Throughout the play, the theme of societies treatment of people with low intelligence is conveyed through the language of the characters.
The medical issues embraced by the play, is that whether the two doctors were ethically correct in operating on Charlie, because of his inability to give his full consent. Charlie was not smart enough initially to fully understand the operation, which could be understood as the doctors taking advantage of his ignorance. His blatant misunderstanding of how the doctors said that the experiment might not be permanent is shown by his reaction immediately after the operation. “But you said I’d be smart”.
This implies that he does not fully understand the operation, and thus, shows his inability to give his full consent. The theme of medical issues confronted in the play are conveyed through the use of language and provide an added concept to the play.
In the radio play ‘Flowers for Algernon’ by Daniel Keyes and adapted by Bert Coules, the language and structure of the play used by the playwright conveys the characters and themes through a variety of ways. Intentional grammatical errors in speech shows the depth of Charlie’s character and it also highlights the change of his intelligence. The progress reports which Coules uses also help the audience to notice the change which happens to Charlie. The main themes of the play are how the medical and ethical issues of increasing intelligence are confronted, and how society treats people with high or low intelligence. Through the dialogue of the characters, we are given a clear and vivid impression of each character’ traits. The effective use of language and structure conveys the characters to a point where it feels that we know them intimately, and that makes the themes so vivid. Bert Coules has made the play ‘Flowers for Algernon’ an improvement, a play in which we can all relate to.