Distorted Dialogue in Richard Matheson’s I Am Legend: A Bakhtinian Perspective

Hamed Faizi, Ali Taghizadeh


Based on the theories of Mikhail Bakhtin, a dialogue can necessarily take place only in a two-sided communication. But if a party creates a hierarchical situation for the domination of its voice in the context, the communication will no longer be dialogic. In I Am Legend, Richard Matheson depicts a post-apocalyptic world that is destroyed due to the spread of a disease which metamorphoses people into bugs. The bacterium of this disease is denotatively and symbolically the aftermath of a war in which every party attempts to suppress the other parties to establish a monologue to its own advantage. But Robert Neville, Matheson’s main character, tries to find a cure for this exasperation. As he kills the new creatures, his attempt is a measure to delete the factors which make the “other” intolerable for him. When the new nonhuman race is ultimately at the threshold of creating another society, they look upon him in the same way he used to look upon them. However, the new society finally decides to execute him. A Bakhtinian reading of the novel shows that almost all the position-holders try to erase the dialogue and establish their own authority. It causes disastrous consequences like violent exclusions. The present research takes it to analyze the attempts in the novel which want to destroy dialogue, and to expose the disastrous results of each participant’s efforts to exclude the other party. These efforts lead each party, especially the marginalized one, to an alienation where they have to spend their times in violence and frustration.

Keywords: I Am Legend, Matheson, Bakhtin, Dialogism, Monologism, Post-apocalypse

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