Alien (literary concept)

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The alien is a device used in literature to signify elements foreign, ignored, repressed, or marginalized in a given society. The alien can also offer an outside view, illuminating the complexities or exposing the hypocrisies and irrationalities in a set of social norms.

In literature, Shakespeare's Shylock in The Merchant of Venice[1] and Mary Shelley's monster in Frankenstein are classic examples of the alien. Numerous other examples abound in subsequent literature and film, such as Mersault in Albert Camus' The Outsider and Sarah Woodruff in John Fowles' The French Lieutenant's Woman.

In American television, the character of Spock on Star Trek presented a celebrated example of the alien.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Leslie Fiedler (1973). The Stranger in Shakespeare. New York: Stein and Day, pp. 85–136.