These notes were contributed by members of the GradeSaver community.
We are thankful of their contributions and encourage you to make your own.
Written by Mason Tabor
the maternal Irony
The computer system is named "Mother" or MU-TH-UR, but is responsible for creating a terrifying reality in which most of the crew dies and in which she/it is powerless to help in any tangible way. Whereas most mothers seek the safety of their children, Alien's "Mother" ensures their death, which should make the viewer a little less disposed to trust their lives to their computers.
the "noble savage"
Ash regards the Alien as a beautiful image of life; he kills without fear of the moral implications, he survives at all costs, he is a truly savage beast. And yet, the main survivor in the film is Ripley, who regards the loss of life as a tragedy.
The plot of the story is initiated by a potential distress call. But in fact, it is the crew who are in need of rescue. The "distress call" is actually a threat from a murdurous alien who makes the voyagers nearly powerless in spite of their amazing technology.
the technology paradox
The crew is put in a situation where the Alien can prey upon them by technology, namely the technology which allows for interstellar travels. But, when they are in real trouble due to their technological advances, the technology is powerless to help. This could also be called the "Murphy's Law of Technology."
the irony of the "Alien"
Alien by its title and plot ought to be about a force that is distant and foreign, and yet, the monster is birthed from within a human surrounded by his crew. The entire action of the film happens in enclosed situations in which the "alien" force is actually very near and impending. In fact it seems very close throughout the entire story. What should be "alien" is rendered as near and threatening and in some aspects, (perhaps more allegorically), the Alien doesn't seem to be an alien force at all. It seems native to our human identity and our human story.
Update this section!
You can help us out by revising, improving and updating