18 March 2018
Ray Bradbury’s “The Veldt:” Awakening of Folie à Deux
In Ray Bradbury’s short story, The Veldt, the readers are taken to the future and into the spoiled life of the technology based society to show the faults in becoming dependent to the automatic lifestyle were everything is done for people. While the story primarily focused on Mr. and Mrs. Hadley’s perspective, the children played a significant role in the story. Peter and Wendy, having been nursed and raised by their Happylife Home, were willfully attached to the non-living power source. Because they were so close to their nursery, the Happylife Home and nursery became the parents and the real parents became unwanted punishers. With Peter and Wendy having shared mindsets and a deep, private connection, the theory is they both share the same psychotic disorder, folie à deux. Folie à deux, a shared psychotic disorder, is a delusion or mental illness shared between two people in close association (“Shared Psychotic Disorder”). In “The Veldt”, Peter and Wendy display symptoms of folie a deux through their behavior, their mimicking, and their beliefs that guided them to misinterpret their reality and cause harm towards their loved ones.
The first sign of folie à deux is the reaction the siblings have to the closing of their nursery. In the beginning of the story when Mrs. Hadley insists the veldt should be shut down because of the unsettling screams and lions. Mr. Hadley is quite skeptical to comply because, “... you know how difficult Peter is about that…. They live for that nursery” (Bradbury3). The mother wants to start over, but Mr. Hadley believes that it will further damage the uneasy relationship they have with their children. Even though their illness is shared, there is always a primary partner creating and commanding (“Folie a Deux is a Psychosis you Share with the One you Love”). In this story, Peter is suggested to be the leader. This is shown during his punishment away from the nursery when he insists on speaking for his sister and takes the lead in disobeying Mr. and Mrs. Hadley commands. When told that the nursery would be taken away for only a few hours Peter threw a horrible tantrum until it was unlocked for him and his sister.
In addition to the symptoms of this disorder, it is shown through Peter’s dominating attitude towards his parent and Wendy’s desire to copy him. Peter and Wendy are first shown holding hands, showing the closeness between them, and both simultaneously explaining how they are both full but want to watch the parents eat. Once confronted at the table about the eerie Africa scenery in the nursery, Peter naturally disagrees with them as if the parents were the delusional ones. In support of each other’s psychotic belief, Wendy willingly agrees with Peter and when he demands her to run and come tell, she obeys him. Once the parents entered the veldt again, Africa was gone. Because of the...