College Essay Examples

Escape from Spiderhead

Literature Review

‘Escape from Spiderhead’ is a fictional narrative written by George Saunders.  The interesting story explores the plight of a man as his strengths are tested to the limit. Jeff, a convict, is used as a lab rat to test a drug in exchange for the reduction of his sentence. The drug affects his emotions since it is capable of provoking the feeling of love. Administering it on him results in his death after being forced to offer a drug that induces self-injury amongst the people who consume it. From the numerous negative depiction of drugs, ‘Escape from Spiderhead’ is an anti-drug narrative. 

The story depicts drugs’ effects as short-lived. Jeff feels elevated in an unnatural way after consuming the drugs. The drugs temporarily interfere with his physical, verbal, and emotional aspects (Saunders 1). However, the fact that the feelings were short-lived made the drugs unworthy of use. The book depicts it as an unnatural way of enhancing emotions, which does not necessarily result in long-term effects. For example, Vivistif has effects that are akin to those of Viagra. However, the effects can help the person for a certain period and not throughout his life.  The depiction of the drugs as short-term enhancements shows its negative opinion of the same.  

The piece of art also depicts the drugs as the cause of the self-harm that they induce amongst users. Darkenfloxx is one of the drugs used in the narrative. Its effects are largely negative since they lead the user to cause harm to him/herself (Saunders 13). For example, Heather smashes her head on a chair until she almost dies after she is Darkenfloxxed. Worse still, the drug is to be administered to other people, such as Rachel, which may lead to similar negative effects. Also, it is because of the drugs that Jeff finally dies. The depiction of the drug as a trigger of self-destruction shows that the narrative does not support the drug. 

The narrative also portrays drugs as a source of evil amongst human beings. The need to test the drugs leads to the use of human beings as lab rats.  Because of the drugs, scientists are willing to break the moral code of dignifying human life. They administer the drugs on people who are alive, thereby causing harm to them and the death of one of the characters. The persons’ lives would have been better if the drugs were not there at all. For example, Heather would not have hurt herself, and Jeff would not have died at the end of the ordeal. 

The portrayal of drugs in the story is that they are manipulative and that they alter the human experience. Despite glorification, the drugs are depicted as causes of emotional alteration.  Their ability to manipulate the emotions within people, especially the feeling of love, is painted with a negative connotation. For example, the drugs arouse the emotion of love in Jeff, which makes him uncomfortable realizing that it is a fake emotion (Saunders, 6). The drugs are inducing unnatural feelings of love. Worse still, they are leading the persons to issues that they would not enjoy in their natural states. For this reason, the story may be considered to be oriented against the use of drugs.  

The depiction of drugs in ‘Escape from Spiderhead’ is largely negative.  Amongst the indicators of this negative delineation is the short-lived effects of the drugs. The narrative also shows the drugs as triggers of self-harm, moral decadence drivers, and chemicals that alter human nature and deprive people of true feelings.  The depictions offer meaningful information that explains the author’s position regarding the production, testing, and use of drugs amongst humans.  Further exploration of finer details may offer more information on the same. 


Works Cited

Saunders, George. “Escape from Spiderhead.” The New Yorker, 2010, 


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By Hanna Robinson

Hanna has won numerous writing awards. She specializes in academic writing, copywriting, business plans and resumes. After graduating from the Comosun College's journalism program, she went on to work at community newspapers throughout Atlantic Canada, before embarking on her freelancing journey.

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