Man vs. Nature
“The Birds,” a story of great flocks of birds descending into England to attack people, presents human beings in conflict with nature itself. Du Maurier uses the story of a single, rural family—the Hockens, who are trying desperately to fend off the bird attacks—to illustrate humanity’s isolation within the natural world and humankind’s vulnerability to nature’s wrath.
While the birds are the primary force of the story’s violence, du Maurier is careful to situate the…read analysis of Man vs. Nature
Hubris and Humility
As a fable of humility, “The Birds” condemns humanity’s hubristic belief that we can control the world around us. Building on the theme of man vs. nature, Du Maurier’s tale rejects the notion of humankind as the master of nature, instead suggesting that any belief in human superiority to nature is foolish and doomed. While Nat’s response to the bird attacks is to take immediate, purposeful action, nearly every other character is stubbornly skeptical…read analysis of Hubris and Humility
Reason vs. Chaos
Du Maurier never gives any explanation for the relentless bird attacks, which is part of what makes them so chilling. Human beings pride themselves on their rational intellect—they assume that their ability to make rational inferences about the world will allow them to manage their own fates. “The Birds,” however, dismantles the notion that reason has the power to dispel chaos by presenting humans as engaged in a futile battle with irrational and relentless forces.
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