Study Guide

Alien Man and the Natural World

Man and the Natural World

We are all still part of the natural world, but let's face it: technology certainly has created a nice little buffer between us and nature.

Today, humans go into space and dive deep into the oceans all the time, even though those are definitely two places that nature originally assigned as humanity's "Keep Out Zones". That's why the alien of Alien is so scary. It's the ultimate survivor and its species has no equal in the arms race of evolution. It stirs up something primal in us: the fear of being on the losing side of natural selection.

Questions About Man and the Natural World

  1. What qualities of the alien align it with the forces of nature? Do any of the human characters exhibit these characteristics? What do you think this says about the theme of nature in the film?
  2. How do the human characters survive the extreme conditions of the unknown planetoid? What does this suggest to you about the relationship between man and nature?
  3. How do you see Ripley's defeat of the alien as fitting into this theme?
  4. Why do you think the crew of the Nostromo has a cat? Does it hunt space mice? Probably not, so what's the deal here?

Chew on This

In representing nature as a source of distress and death, the movie ignores the qualities of nature that are associated with therapy and mental health. The planetoid doesn't have a scenic seaside and the Nostromo lacks even a potted fern.

The Company shares several qualities with the alien, such as its remorselessness and willingness to kill indiscriminately to meet its needs. This comparison suggests that capitalism shares several of humanity's more animalistic urges.

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