The Flying Machine Ray Bradbury People have always wanted to fly and see the world from above. The aviation was always an important and interesting topic in the society. The first invention for flying were the kites. Around 200 BC is the earliest known record of kite flying. A general from China flew with his kite over enemy territory. After kites the people discovered the balloons in the 17th and 18th century. Since 1903 plains with motor exist. But what happened to all the inventors or were they even the first inventors?
These are the exciting questions that many readers asked themselves after reading the short Tory “The Flying Machine” by Ray Bradbury from the year 1953. In the story we are confronted with a responsible emperor on the one hand and an inventor on the other hand, who invents an invention with cons and pros. The emperor has to make decisions for his empire and the inventor has to live with the consequences. What is the emperor’s attitude towards science in general and what is his attitude towards the inventor and his invention in the story? The story by Ray Bradbury takes place in China near the Great Wall of China in the year 400 AD.
The main character in “The Flying Machine” is the emperor Yuan. The emperor is an old man, who likes to drink tea and enjoy the weather (CB. II. 5-6). He is a thoughtful man and he reflects carefully before he makes decisions. Yuan is a responsible man, because he respects his people. He wants to protect them from “an evil face and an evil heart”(l. 118) He is afraid that someday an enemy could come and try to attack his empire and the Great Wall of China, because he thinks that someone could destroy the wall with for example the flying dragon (II 121-122).
That is the point, why he is a bit afraid of the ewe invention. His will is to defend his empire and the people who live in it. The inventor could invent more machines and so the enemies could be inspired, if they see a flying machine and they could misuse the invention. Before he thinks about the consequences the flying machine takes with it, he is fascinated and interested in the invention (II. 108-111). “Is [the flying machine] not beautiful, Excellency? Yes, too beautiful” finds the emperor (II. 63-64).
The emperor sees the drawbacks and opportunities of the machine, but he makes the decision to destroy it, because he has o think about his empire and for his empire is this the best decision in his eyes (II. 127-128). His attitude towards the inventor of the flying dragon isn’t better. He finds him ignorant, naive, selfish and irresponsible, because he doesn’t think about the consequences of his action (II. 83-85). But he also feels sorry about having to execute the inventor. Yuan does it Just for the greater good, so no others can get hurt (II. From the text you can get to know, that Yuan is not against all inventions.
He is Just against inventions, which are dangerous for him and his empire. He accepts harmless inventions like his own miniature world. An invention which he can control without risk (II. 92-99). He likes science and new inventions, if they are safe. The mood in the story is in the beginning calm and peaceful when “the Emperor Yuan was sipping tea and fanning himself against a warm breeze” (II. 5-6). The emperor stays in his mood even though the servant comes and disturbs him. “[The small bridge, through a grove of trees, and up a tiny hill” (II. 28-29). First in the second part of the story the mood changes.
It gets sad and dark because the inventor gets ailed and the emperor thinks about his decision the whole time. At last it gets sentimental when Yuan looks out across the land at the Great Wall of China, closes his eyes and thinks of birds, which are free and flying in the sky (II. 143-148). All things considered you can say that it is hard to make a decision for a whole empire. The story shows, that it is hard for the emperor Yuan to make his decision, because on the on hand he feels sorry for the man and on the other hand he has to kill him. It’s the best for the empire.
His fear that an evil flying machine could destroy the Great Wall of China and so the enemies could attack his empire doesn’t change in the story. Only his opinion towards the flying machine changes at the end of the story when he sees the birds flying in the sky. But he knows, that it was right, what he did. The story of the flying machine reminds of the song by Tom Lealer “Werner von Braun”, because they have some similar themes. Both texts are about responsibility, making decisions and about flying machines. In “The Flying Machine” it’s a flying dragon and in “Werner von Braun” it’s the rocket.
Both inventors in the stories are irresponsible. They don’t think of the consequences their inventions take with them. They don’t care about their fellow men. There are also differences between both texts. In the song “Werner von Braun” the government is involved. They paid Werner von Braun for his action and in “The Flying Machine” the government tries to stop him. Overall you can say, that the two texts have the similar meaning. They show the fear of inventions and the negative sides of inventions. Today we have to live with science and it will never stop.