Martch 3. A man named Charlie Gordon writes in clumsy, badly spelled English. He says that two men named Doctor Strauss and Professor Nemur have told him to write down as much as possible about an upcoming operation that will make him “smart.” Charlie introduces himself: he works for a man named Mr. Donner at a bakery, where he makes a small wage. Charlie also attends night classes for mentally disabled adults. A teacher at these classes, named Miss Kinnian, has recommended him to Nemur and Strauss.
As the novel begins, we’re not sure exactly what’s going on, because we’re seeing through the eyes of a mentally disabled man. Even so, it’s important to note that from the start, Charlie Gordon has a clear, desire to become smarter. Charlie’s drive and ambition make him a sympathetic, relatable character for readers—and these qualities also lead him to become a tragic hero with the “fatal flaw” of hubris: too much pride and ambition, and of the kind that leads to one’s ultimate downfall.