The Circle

Themes and Colors
Social Networking and the Internet Theme Icon
Surveillance and Transparency Theme Icon
Privacy Theme Icon
Totalitarianism and Indoctrination Theme Icon
Utopianism and Perfection Theme Icon
LitCharts assigns a color and icon to each theme in The Circle, which you can use to track the themes throughout the work.

In The Circle, Dave Eggers satirizes the cultures and values that have emerged in the age of the Internet. In particular, he criticizes the culture of social networking, in which the vast majority of personal interactions don’t occur face-to-face, and often occur between people who have never met in person. Written at a time when more and more people communicate predominately through social networking sites, The Circle shows some of the frightening moral and…

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Surveillance is another important aspect of contemporary culture that The Circle explores. Over the course of the novel, the Circle rolls out a series of programs that cause virtually the entire industrialized world to be placed under surveillance. At the same time that the Circle places the world under surveillance, the Circle’s executives, especially Eamon Bailey, promote the philosophy that surveillance is an inherent good, and that allowing oneself to be watched at all…

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The counterpoint to The Circle’s satire of surveillance is its celebration of privacy. At various points, the Circle’s leaders tell Mae Holland that privacy is dangerous and selfish: as Eamon Bailey says, “Secrets are lies.” In refuting Bailey’s statement, The Circle not only connects surveillance with totalitarianism and abuse, but it also shows that privacy is an important part of the human experience. Private moments are necessary because they can be meaningful and restorative…

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The French writer Luc Moullet once wrote, “On fascism, only the point of view of someone who has been tempted is of any interest.” These wise words apply to totalitarianism in general, and, in the spirit of Moullet, The Circle depicts a totalitarian organization from the point of view of someone who is slowly being pulled into its orbit. Because The Circle is told from Mae’s perspective, we learn relatively little about how…

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From the beginning of The Circle, it’s clear that the Circle’s operations stretch far beyond those of the typical tech company: it’s working on plans to map the entire world, end corruption in politics, fight crime, increase political awareness, and more. The Circle professes to be, and is widely regarded as, a utopian company, committed to making the world perfect in every way: both by wiping out societal problems like crime and, on a…

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