The Octopus is a Symbol Of The Perfectionist Principle of The Circle: Know Everything

Topics: Octopus

Dave Eggers’ The Circle uses images of aquatic life from the Mariana Trench to demonstrate the dynamics of the circle. These images include seahorses, an octopus, and a shark; each revealing a significant aspect of the Circle. The seahorses are a representation of the users of the circle and their inability to defend themselves from the totality that is the circle. While the octopus is a symbol of the circle’s superficial desire to know everything and to connect with people, which detracts from the circle’s true desire to control everything.

The image of the shark is a symbol of the circle’s power, and its need to “consume” everything. Through images of aquatic life, Eggers’ novel suggests that ???

Images of the seahorses represent the individuals affected by the Circle. Mae, the protagonist, desaspectscribes the transportation of the seahorses to the new aquarium, “the seahorses are being brought into the new tank in a baggie, much as you would bring home a goldfish from the county fair.

This has proven to be the best way to transfer delicate creatures like this. There are no hard surfaces to bump against, and the plastic is far lighter than lucite or any hard surface would be” (475).

The seahorses parallel the perception the Circlaspectse has of its users: small and fragile, making for easy prey. These seahorses are oblivious to the imminent danger and explore voluntarily. This is similar to the users of the circle; they use the circle’s technology but are too naive to understand what they are sacrificing by using this technology.

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For example, with SeeChange cameras that capture individuals’ everyday lives, the users are giving up all of their privacy; however, they see it as a way to reduce crime and increase accountability. The users stand no chance against the Circle once they start using its innovations just as the seahorses have no chance against the shark. The death of the seahorses highlights how efficiently the Circle feeds off its users to achieve its goal of complete control.

The octopus is a symbol of the circle’s superficial desire to know everything. Mae describes the octopus in a new tank, “the octopus instantly spread itself up like a welcoming hand. As it had done when alone, it traced the contours of the glass, feeling the coral, the seaweed, always gentle, wanting to know all, touch all.” (476) The octopus is a symbol of the perfectionistic principle of the circle: to know everything. The octopus wants to know about every crevasse and structure, which is similar to how the Circle wants to know about all aspect of humans and human life, i.e. how many grains of sand are in the Sahara (239). The octopus ultimately is devoured by the shark, and its death is symbolic as it suggests that even the driving principle of the Circle is not strong enough to preserve itself; It is defenseless against the circle’s true desire for control.

The Circle uses images of the shark to symbolize its power, and its need to devour everything. The shark is described as “a bizarre creature, ghostlike, vaguely menacing and never still, but no one who stood before it could look away” (309). The imagery used to describe the shark’s appearance echoes the purpose of the Circle, which is to be completely transparent. It also demonstrates the Circle’s vast appeal. The circle can consume all members of society and it does consume everyone; almost everyone except a few individuals like Mercer uses the innovations created by the circle. The shark devours everything in its path: “like a machine going about its work, the shark circled and stabbed until he had devoured a thousand babies, and the seaweed, and the coral, and the anemones. It ate everything and deposited the remains quickly, carpeting the empty aquarium in a low film of white ash” (481). This demonstrates the Circle’s deceptiveness and its desire to know everything and to make everything transparent, essentially taking control over people’s lives. The images of the shark are symbolic of the greedy nature of Circle and its effect on the world as a whole.

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The Octopus is a Symbol Of The Perfectionist Principle of The Circle: Know Everything. (2022, May 10). Retrieved from

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