Essay on “Great Apes”
“The most recent research suggests that humans share as much as 98% of our genetic material, and are closer to chimps than they are to gorillas. ”(Front inside cover) This is a striking fact that any human being might find difficult to imagine or accept. Humans are like chimpanzees? Oh yes, it’s true in Will Self’s novel “Great Apes”, humans are chimpanzees. The book presents to us an unbelievable fact that humans are acting like animals in many ways than they are consciously aware of. Human existence has become similar to animal existence because humans behave and act like animals even when they are not chimpanzees and apes.
In what ways are humans like animals or chimpanzees? The novel shows that humans engage in excessive sexual practices like apes and in practicing their sexuality. These excessive sexual practices that humans do are: (1) they do not just have one sexual mate or partner; (2) they have become sexually promiscuous; (3) they go beyond the conventional ways of sexual intercourse to the point of brutality; (4) they openly engage in sex without shame; and (5) they do not anymore feel the love and respect that two people must have when engaging in sex.
In addition to sexual perversity and promiscuity, humans are like animals in how they treat their fellow human beings. The novel’s protagonist is Simon Dykes, a famous painter who after a night of excessive drinking, drug-taking and lovemaking with his girlfriend wakes up in a world of primates. It is through his perspective that the author presents the satire of human actions that are similar to the apes. His discovery of the similarities of humans with chimpanzees happens during the time when he is confined in Charing Cross hospital because he thinks he is human under the care of Dr.
Zack Busner, a “clinical psychologist, medical doctor, radical psychoanalyst, anti-psychiatrist, maverick anxiolytic drug researcher and former television personality” (28). Through Dr. Busner, Simon realizes that humans are no different than apes and vice versa and he finally realizes that he is a chimpanzee. First, during his session with Dr. Busner, the doctor asks him questions and Simon confirms that humans have violated the exclusivity of sexual partnership found in married or single men/women couples. When Dr. Busner asks him: “If humans have exclusive mating rights, do they adhere to them?
” to which Simon answers “Not exactly”. He continues to explain that this happens in any human relationship. Simon and Dr. Busner’s conversation presents that humans are very similar to the apes because they do not anymore have exclusive mating partners. Just like what can be read from the novel. Dr. Busner does not just have Charlotte as his “nestmate”, there are also others but he considers her to be the “oldest” and “adored”. In reality, humans are like that. There are men and women who have sexual partners aside from their spouses and single men and women who do not just have one but two or more partners in their sexual activities.
On the basis of being natural and unnatural, humans in this aspect have unnatural tendencies. Second, humans have become sexually promiscuous like chimpanzees. Where before men and women are wary or cautious with whom they have sex with, now especially the younger generation, do not anymore care with whom they have sex just as long as they can perform their sexual orgies and satisfy their lustful desires. This statement may be brutally frank but it is true and it is happening all over the world not just in our own backyards. Human beings no longer choose their mates with care.
This could probably have been the reason why there is a massive spread of sexually transmitted diseases, AIDS in particular, among the people. This problem has plagued human beings, yet humans are not aware of its root cause, sexual promiscuity. The book has also mentioned “one of those Western European males who thought it amusing and stimulating to visit Central African countries and mate with the natives. The result was the disease which was killing him in front of his allies’ eyes” (317). Third, Simon is made to realize that humans have become animalistic in their sexual intercourse.
At one point, he observes: “I’ve seen chimps ‘euch-euch’ mating, and in comparison to human mating, it seems a frenzied, unsatisfying experience” (330). Humans behave like animals when they mate. They experiment with all sorts of things to satisfy their bodily cravings. A horrible picture of what primates do in mating can be seen in the book when Simon dreamt that Sarah turned into a monkey and during their mating, Sarah chews Simon’s elongated penis until it is cut off. Moreover, there is a scene where “his penis erect- a pink spike in his groin.
Both he and Bowen spray urine and saliva” (154) which demonstrates the unnaturalness of the sexual act of chimpanzees. Fourth, humans are becoming shameless in performing sex in the eyes of the public like chimpanzees or other animals. In the novel, when Simon has finally accepted his “chimpunity”, he mates with Sarah, not just brutally and speedily, but he does it publicly without shame. Naturally, animals do not feel shame when they mate with each other in public because that is their animal behaviour and they do not have this kind of emotion.
However for humans, it is very unnatural to have sex in front of other people since it is considered a private act between two people. Ever since the world began, humans do not feel comfortable having sex while there people looking at what they are doing. Unfortunately, this is already being done by others, these days. They feel satisfaction in being watched as they perform sexual activities not much different as that of animals. Fifth, humans no longer cherish and feel the love and respect that couples engaging in sex are supposed to have for each other.
Since, men and women these days only want to fulfil their sexual fantasies and desires and they do not mind whoever they have sex with, they do not really value, respect and love for that person they have sex with. It is sad to note that the very essence of sex has already disappeared which is love. Sex, in the truest sense has lost the emotional as well as the physiological satisfaction that it should have. And this is all to the undoing of man and his becoming similar to animals. Thus, the book does not hide the truth that humans have become chimpanzees in the way that they look at sex and how they engage in it with another person.
There is a scene in the novel where “Busner laughed, panted, smacked his lips, and mated her in under thirty seconds, the pair of them squealing in delight” (36). Mating in animals is quick, obviously without any emotions involved. Lastly, with man’s sexual distortions, it is no wonder they have become bestial in the way that they treat other men. Human bodies are no longer considered precious and sacred but they have become commodities that anything can be done with it as anyone pleases. This can be inferred from what Simon reads in the newspaper about the massacre in Bosnia and Rwanda.
The news states: “Bodies dragged dragged by thin shacks through thick mud, bodies smashed and pulverised, throats slashed red” (14). Even the news that we watch and read shows that humans are killing fellow humans and that there are wars in different countries all over the world. From the foregoing arguments, it can be concluded that in the novel “Great Apes”, humans are like chimpanzees in their behavior and in their sexuality. What has been considered the nature of human beings has become unnatural. Like chimpanzees, humans have violated the laws that regulate their own sexual and social behavior.
Like animals, they do not anymore respect the boundaries that have been set up by society in terms of marriage and family. There are humans who do not only have one sexual partner but more than one sexual partner. Humans are no longer contented with having just one partner or having sex the conventional way and they do it shamelessly, to the point of doing it publicly. If humans do not mind this phenomenon, it will not be far from reality, humans will be chimpanzees.
Self, Will. Great Apes. New York: Grove Press, 1997.Sample Essay of Masterpapers.com