Study Guide

Jurassic Park Themes

  • Man and the Natural World

    Unless you believe man and dinosaurs co-existed at the same time, perhaps we should call this theme "Man and the Un-Natural World." Or to keep religion entirely out of it, which Jurassic Park mostly does, perhaps we'll call this one "Man vs. Dinosaur," because that's what the movie is all about. What if man and dinosaur found themselves face to snout? Who would survive?

    Questions About Man and the Natural World

    1. What advantages do the humans have over the dinosaurs in Jurassic Park? In what situations do dinosaurs triumph? 
    2. Which humans lose the battle between man and dinosaur, and why? 
    3. With humans gone at the end of the movie, which dinosaurs left on the island will thrive?
    4. How do Grant's, Tim's, and Lex's opinions on the park change when they are forced to survive in the "wild"?

    Chew on This

    Whatever you believe, Jurassic Park makes it hard to imagine man and dinosaur ever co-existing. If they did, we can't imagine man actually surviving. In this conflict between man and dino, dinosaur ultimately wins.

    The scientists of Jurassic Park try to defy nature by making it so no dinosaur can breed in the park, but nature triumphs.

  • Ambition

    A man who opens a theme park has to have ambition as one of his top five traits. Walt Disney spent a couple of years transforming Disneyland from a dream into reality (source). And that creepy old dancing man probably faced many challenges when opening Six Flags theme parks across the United States. However, John Hammond in Jurassic Park really takes the prehistoric cake. He doesn't just want to open a theme park—he has to bring an entire species back to life in order to do it. For him, ambition is his number one quality…and his number one downfall.

    Questions About Ambition

    1. What is John Hammond's ultimate goal? Scientific discovery? Opening the best theme park ever? Something else entirely? 
    2. What does Hammond neglect in his attempts to get his park off the ground? How do his oversights end up damaging his vision—and leading to the deaths of others? 
    3. Does Hammond deserve to be punished for the mistakes he makes, mistakes that put his own ambitions over the safety of other people? 
    4. Both Dennis Nedry and John Hammond are ambitious in their own ways. How are the two men similar? How are they different? How does their conflict lead to the destruction of Jurassic Park?

    Chew on This

    Hammond only abandons his selfish ambition when his own grandchildren are in danger. Were it not for them, he'd probably open Jurassic Park and put other people's children's lives at stake, no problem.

    Anyone who thinks of himself as a god is ambitious at best, and arrogant at worst. John Hammond is a man who is playing god, and he walks the line between both of these traits.

  • Science

    Jurassic Park is chock-full of wild attractions: Giant dinosaur bones hanging from the ceiling; Triceratops poop so high you can sled off it; Jeff Goldblum shirtless. But perhaps most exciting of them all are the men in white lab coats with test tubes. Woo, DNA. Yay, science. Okay, listening to scientists prattle on about DNA code is a lot less exciting than a stampeding herd of Gallimimuses, but without the science, there wouldn't be any Gallimimuses, so it's pretty darn important.

    Questions About Science

    1. In Jurassic Park, dinosaurs are brought back to life with DNA found in fossilized mosquitoes. Do you think the science in Jurassic Park is plausible? 
    2. Do you think science will ever bring dinosaurs back to life? 
    3. What mistakes do the scientists make that lead to unexpected results? Are you surprised they make such oversights? 
    4. The scientific community seems to change their perception of dinosaurs every day. One day the Brontosaurus exists, the next thing you know it's gone. How have dinosaurs changed since Jurassic Park was made in 1993?

    Chew on This

    Jurassic Park (the park, not the movie) would have benefited from having some sort of consultant on staff before starting this whole project. The scientists are only concerned with their accomplishment, a.k.a. creating dinosaurs. They're not concerned with what happens next.

    Jurassic Park (again, the park, not the movie) tries to make the science an attraction, too, with the creation of the cartoon character Mr. DNA. This makes it look like they're not taking science seriously. Maybe they should have more respect for it.

  • Technology and Modernization

    Theme parks wouldn't exist without technology. Without technology, we'd just be walking around in circles and pretending it was fun. Even the first roller coaster in America, which opened on Coney Island in 1884, was once a technological achievement. Who on that first roller coaster would have ever suspected that a little over a hundred years later there would be amusement parks with dinosaurs? Or at least a movie called Jurassic Park about an amusement park with dinosaurs.

    How far we've come.

    Questions About Technology and Modernization

    1. Does Jurassic Park rely too much on technology? What kind of safety precautions should have been in place for when the technology fails to work? 
    2. Is Jurassic Park pro-technology or anti-technology? 
    3. What technology in Jurassic Park was state-of-the-art then but is outdated today?

    Chew on This

    Jurassic Park is dangerous, but it's made even more dangerous by its reliance on technology. If the visitors could just drive away from the T. rex, their situation would be a lot less dangerous.

    John Hammond doesn't understand technology, and as a result, he doesn't understand the importance of Dennis Nedry's job. Because Nedry feels unappreciated, he betrays Hammond and puts everyone in danger.