Study Guide

Foundation Violence

By Isaac Asimov


You know what we absolutely love? When an author spells out the theme for you in a simple, easily digestible sentence. Take Asimov's stance on violence in Foundation. Salvor Hardin says, "Violence is the last refuge of the incompetent" (III.1.55). Boom. Done. Any character that prefers a quick, simplistic, and violent solution to a problem does not fare well in Asimov's universe. Enter characters like Hardin, who prefer to think their way to nonviolent solutions: they're the heroes of day. And we here at Shmoop find the notion very appealing.

Questions About Violence

  1. Who would you say is the most violent character in the novel? The least? How are the two characters similar or different? What does this comparison tell you about the nature of violence in the novel? Anything we here at Shmoop missed?
  2. Is there any instance where you see violence helping out a character? If so, where? How does this complicate the issue of violence in the text? 
  3. Compare the societies of Anacreon and Foundation. What are their stances on violence? How are these societies different? Similar? What conclusions can you draw about the nature of violence and society in the novel?

Chew on This

Foundation is ultimately a novel about achieving pacifism through science and rationalism.

As the stories progress, violence becomes a more acceptable option.