Tag Archives: stolen bacillus analysis

Literature Analysis: Stolen Bacillus

The Stolen Bacillus
Analysis of the Anarchist:

·          The anarchist is unaware:

·                            The anarchist believes that he has succeeded in stealing the cholera and infecting the city. However, his lack of knowledge towards science has resulted in the anarchist stealing a cultivation of new species bacterium instead. The anarchist has under-estimated science and so he is subsequently fooled by the bacteriologist.

·              The anarchist is portrayed to be an unappealing character:

·                            In the story, the writer describes the anarchist with, “lank black hair and deep grey eyes, the haggard expression…” adjectives such as “haggard” and “lank” provides an unappealing impression and imagery of the anarchist. The unappealing descriptions also emphasize his antagonistic personality.

How does the writer create tension & excitement?

  • Onomatopoeic words- “slam”, “swish”, “whipped” etc
  • A twist at the end.
  • The reader is led to believe that the anarchist is holding the cholera until they realize it wasn’t cholera. The writer creating a twist in the end creates excitement.
  • Describing the danger of the cholera, creates tension
  • “He would follow the water mains picking out & punishing a house here and a house there…”- uses personification to describe how deadly science/the cholera could be and it also foreshadows how tragic the ending could have been.
  • “Only break such a little tube as this into a supply of drinking-water…go forth, increase and multiply…death pull of pain & dignity” –the writer uses adjectives to describe the danger of the cholera.
  • ·                            writer exaggerates the danger of the cholera in order to emphasize the danger of science

Irony is one of the main themes within this short story. It is presented through emphasizing certain points in the story, and then revealing the truth at the end which totally demeans the extents to which the Anarchist has gone through in order to obtain what he thinks is the cholera sample. These points include:

    • Emphasis on the obsession the Anarchist develops of the virus “these mere atomies, might multiply and devastate a city! Wonderful!” and “devouring the little tubes with his eyes”

    • The bacteriologist who misleads the readers and the anarchist into thinking that the vial actually contains cholera – emphasized by the metaphor “Yes, here is the pestilence imprisoned” making a reference to the biblical four horsemen (Revelations)

    • The irony is also emphasized through the comical elements in the story

Comical Elements-

The story also contains elements which are funny to the extent that they are in a sense ridiculous. One example of this is when the scientist runs out into the streets “hatless, and in his carpet slippers” which presents a very comical visual image to the reader.
Another comical element is when the scene of the men discussing the Bacteriologist chasing after the Anarchist is described. Besides the obvious colloquial language which is used to create a contrast in the gravity of the situation, the names of these men are also reflective upon the comical role that they play in the story (Use of semantic puns) e.g. Old Tootles, and Tommy Byles which can also be interpreted as a semantic pun to show the comical effect they produce as part of the story.
Literary Technique Example Explanation
Metaphor “Pestilence imprisoned” Makes a biblical reference to the four horsemen of death in revelations, shows how terrifying and potentially dangerous this cholera is
Personification “Seeking his victims” Emphasizes how the cholera virus is deadly
Structure “He shuddered.” Emphasizes how the “cholera” is a fearful virus that could cause the city to be brought down in ruins. Conveys a strong sense of tension
Colloquial language “Strike me giddy!” Shows contrast between the comical elements of the story from the tension
Repetition “Death, death, death!” Shows us again how the cholera could cause a lot of damage to the city. Also emphasizes the irony at the end