Shutter Island Essay Questions

Essay Questions

  1. 1

    At the end of the novel, are you convinced that Teddy is really Andrew Laeddis, or do you believe he has been brainwashed into believing this by Dr Cawley?

    Although both scenarios are plausible, the author has done such a skillful job of portraying Teddy as a US Marshall investigating a suspicious mental hospital that it is difficult to believe Dr Cawley's assertions that he is Andrew Laeddis. For example, the content of his dreams could have been shouted out in his sleep, or confided to "Chuck. It is difficult to see the medical staff as the good guys at the end of the novel when they have come across as manipulative and almost barbaric. There is also no explanation for the woman in the cave whom Teddy met earlier who seemed to validate his story. The genius of the novel is leaving the reader with two conceivable scenarios to believe in.

  2. 2

    Teddy states several times that the patients on Shutter Island remind him of the prisoners he liberated from Dachau. What other similarities does he draw between Shutter Island and the Nazi death camps?

    Teddy hints that he believes Dr Naehring was a Nazi who has come to America to continue his experiments into mental disorders and psychopathy.Many of the experiments with the effects of various drugs were begun in the death camps and also various lobotomy experiments were undertaken there as well. The camps also changed Teddy for ever as he was haunted by what he saw and the experience unnerved him.

  3. 3

    How does the hurricane affect the plot of the novel?

    The hurricane shorts the electrical circuits on the island and therefore all of the locks and electrical fences are disabled. This enables Teddy and Chuck to roam the island without being detected and also leads to the confrontation between Teddy and Noyes. Without the changes in terrain the men would have been far more confined and the search that Teddy begins of the island would have been impossible.

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