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Analysis of The Main Idea in Consider The Lobster by David Foster Wallace

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Analysis of The Main Idea in Consider The Lobster by David Foster Wallace essay

An article titled “Consider the Lobster” written by David Foster Wallace addresses the common Maine Lobster Festival. In this article Foster looks past the positive outtake of the festival and focuses more on the negative aspect. From Foster’s experience at the festival, he focuses on talking about the cruelty of cooking these animals alive and the impact that it has on society. Also, to mention that we as humans put these organisms lives at stake just for our own benefit. The argument that Wallace makes is that there is a lot more behind the celebration than what is displayed. Wallace does such in a way by sharing the idea of animal cruelty throughout the article, the usage of lobster facts that he uses in order to portray the Maine Lobster Festival to anybody who has never participated, and the morality and ethicality of eating these creatures. Rather than displaying the festival in a positive light, Wallace goes beyond to portray the festival as an immoral gathering. He poses the question “Is it alright to boil a sentient creature alive just for our gustatory pleasure”? Which spikes the ideology on whether or not these animals can feel pain. Wallace says that these animals have nervous systems just like we as humans do, which means that they must be able to feel pain.

“Wallace says that there are two main factors whether a living creature has the capacity to suffer and so has genuine interests that it may or may not be our moral duty to consider. The first being how much of the neurological hardware required Smith2 for pain-experience the animal comes equipped-nociceptors, prostaglandins, neuronal opioid receptors, etc. The other criterion is whether the animal demonstrates behavior associated with pain”. Wallace goes into further detail to describe how these crustaceans can feel pain, just like we as humans can. Considering that they share similar parts of the nervous system that we humans have. Also to mention that these lobsters are boiled live in front of an audience for the satisfaction of the human wants, not the needs. Wallace also highlights that these animals are prepared in different ways, such as driving a knife in between the lobster’s eyestalks to instantly put it out of its misery. These animals are simply put through more than the consumer, just imagine how the lobster feels before taking its last breath of air before being slaughtered. Wallace also mentions the arrangement of the festival and that you have to pay twenty dollars just to buy a lawn chair to be able to relax at the festival. If Wallace were to be writing about how good the festival was, then why would he go as far as to point out all of the flaws that the festival has, specifically the animal cruelty.

Throughout the article Wallace incites facts about lobsters to engage the reader, but these facts don’t really help the Maine Lobster Festival. These facts are more or less here to point out the disaster that is the MLF. Wallace states that the festival is home to the world’s largest lobster cooker, which can cook up to 100 lobsters at a time. Making this the biggest lobster cooker in existence, and this cooker is completely visible to the public. So every time a lobster is thrown in the cooker, the participants of the festival can hear the screams of these lobsters as they’re being thrown in. Wallace also says that lobsters are also afraid of lighter areas, so when these crustaceans are thrown inside the tank their first instinct is to find a darker area to subside, which doesn’t help the whole ideology that lobsters can feel pain. He also goes on to specify that we ourselves or we as humans are the ones who torture these creatures and that if we weren’t cooking lobsters they could live in peace. The final point that Wallace brings up is that “Up until sometime in the 1800s, lobster was literally low-class food, eaten only by the poor and institutionalized-some colonies had laws against feeding lobsters to inmates more than once a week because it was thought to be cruel and unusual, like making people eat rats”. So to sum it all up, non-incarcerated humans have expanded on to eating these crustaceans, that were known for being a punishment and Wallace displays it as that. The people who eat these creatures could never know what they feel. They’re simply used for our entertainment and not taken into consideration, hence “Consider the Lobster.”

Finally Wallace talks about morality and ethicality. Throughout the article Wallace talks from the perspective of both sides, and allows the reader to form their own opinion. Wallace starts with talking about the highlights of the festival such as “the size of the festival being enormous, pungent and extremely well marketed”. He introduces the festival as successful in the beginning of his article about the Maine Lobster Festival, but as he progresses, he begins to open up about the festival and provide both sides to the story. Later on Wallace mentions the topic of animal cruelty which opens up the idea of the festival for debate. It simply doesn’t make sense for Wallace to highlight the festival if he is going to speak negatively about it. That’s what makes it so confusing, and as Wallace says in the article “What I really am is confused,” which makes the audience question his argument even more. But, Wallace questions the idea of morality and whether or not this festival is actually okay to be broadcasted to the public. Wallace also mentions the lives of other animals and that should be considered Smith4 before being put through similar punishment such as lobsters. We as humans could simply never know what an animal feels because we aren’t lobsters or any other possible animals. He’s simply not telling his audience to stop consuming these creatures, but to consider them and all other animals before making the decision to consume them and to make moral and ethical decisions on whether or not this would be considered animal cruelty.

To wrap up Wallace’s argument the whole idea of the Maine Lobster Festival is a negative experience. Wallace wants the reader to take away that there is more than meets the eye when attending the MLF. He does so by speaking about the animal cruelty involved, he uses facts to induce the reader, and asks you to question the morality and ethicality behind eating these animals. Everywhere you look these creatures are constantly being harmed at the sheer will of making an audience happy. These animals are cooked alive and cooked in mass amounts of numbers using the “World’s largest lobster cooker” and whether or not the festival considers this to be animal cruelty is up for question. These animals can be heard squealing for their last breaths before they’re cooked alive, so you as the reader form your own opinion on whether or not the festival is just. The facts that Wallace provides are simply to give the reader a better understanding for the function and the history of the notorious creature, the “lobster.” Because before the festival started there were people eating them as a punishment, and that is almost what it seems to be today. Finally Wallace brings up the idea of morality and ethicality, and whether or not the festival is just a big immoral gathering. What Wallace really wants is for the readers to “consider the lobster” or any other animal that could possibly face animal cruelty. Because for certain us as humans don’t want to be in the same scenario as the lobster, so he simply asks that you conduct your own research and opinion to make moral and ethical choices. Overall Wallace questions the idea of the festival and asks the reader to come to their own conclusion about the festival as a whole.

Work Cited

  1. Wallace, David F. ‘Consider the Lobster.’ ​Gourmet​, Aug. 2004.

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Analysis Of The Main Idea In Consider The Lobster By David Foster Wallace. (2021, May 14). GradesFixer. Retrieved December 8, 2022, from
“Analysis Of The Main Idea In Consider The Lobster By David Foster Wallace.” GradesFixer, 14 May 2021,
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