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The Veldt by Ray Bradbury: Analysis & Themes

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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Joshua Wimmer

Joshua holds a master's degree in Latin and has taught a variety of Classical literature and language courses.

Many of us today probably know what it's like being plugged-in. But are you aware of just how dangerous that can be? Find out when we analyze themes in Bradbury's 'The Veldt,' which has some warnings for those who'd take technology too far.

A Brief Summary of The Veldt

Many of us would probably argue that technological advances, like the Internet, social media, and the thousands of gadgets people use to stay plugged-in, are a benefit to living in modern society. However, many others see danger lurking behind every e-mail and electric mixer. While we might not have to worry about surrendering to our robot overlords just yet, there are nonetheless risks involved when we become so immersed in our technology that we tune everything and everyone else out.

This is precisely the problem the Hadleys are facing in Bradbury's sci-fi short story. This family has become so wrapped-up in their futuristic technology that the social structure of the household is at risk of serious damage - along with a couple of its members. Of course, George Hadley imagined he was simply providing his family with the best when he purchased their fully-automated 'Happylife Home,' but he and his wife, Lydia Hadley, had no idea what dangerous effects this luxurious indulgence would have on their young children, Peter and Wendy.

For Peter and Wendy, their virtual nursery that reads its occupants' thoughts and transmits the full sensory experience through its walls is their life, so being taken away from it would be like dying for them. To save themselves, then, Peter and Wendy are left with no option but to dispose of what threatens to destroy their pampered existence. With the deaths of George and Lydia by lions on the children's virtual veldt, readers are left with the stark reminder of just how deadly being too plugged-in can be. Keep reading to explore this theme and more as we analyze this futuristic story still eerily relevant today.

Analysis and Themes of The Veldt

High-Tech Horrors

Our first theme is high-tech horrors. We often pride ourselves on the advancements we've made in digital technology that allow us to render even the most fantastic creatures and settings realistically. However, they can't compare to the Hadley's virtual nursery, which even produces the appropriate odors for the occasion. As in most examples of science fiction, though, the futuristic tech of the veldt, the virtual African savanna setting in their nursery, has its drawbacks. The depictions in this room are so realistic that they already have Lydia on edge at the beginning of the story, especially considering the kids' most recent and long-running creation: the lion-infested African veldt. In the end, those very lions are responsible for her and George's deaths, but even this isn't what makes the Hadley's high-tech house so horrifying.

As psychologist David McClean observes when he comes to inspect the nursery, the trouble's not with the technology but with those who use it. 'Like too many others, you've built your life around creature comforts…' McClean informs George, eventually concluding that the best way for the Hadleys to get their lives back on track is to get back to basics (i.e., making and cutting their own food). Unfortunately, it would appear that the family - especially Peter and Wendy - have already become so dependent on their technology that any sense of independence from it is out of the question.

Undisciplined and Unnecessary

We'll call our next theme 'undisciplined and unnecessary.' When we move out on our own, one of the first things we have to consider with our newfound independence is that it takes discipline to maintain. There are budgets, schedules, and other responsibilities that make independent living possible, and many of these, we probably learned from our parents. George and Lydia Hadley, however, are in no position to teach their kids about independence, because they are themselves too dependent on technology to take care of everything for them - including their children.

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