All Quiet on the Western Front Research Paper

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All Quiet on the Western Front Research Paper: The Theme of Animal Instinct

This “All Quiet on the Western Front” research paper presents an analysis of the book from a specific point of view. The author examines how Erich Maria Remarque touched on the topic of the animal instinct in his novel. Erich Maria Remarque was a German novelist whose books are mostly dedicated to the First World War and its influence on German society in the twentieth century. The concept of human nature and the unconscious are not the central part of his reflections. For certain, he alluded that the war didn’t affect society as a whole, but put under pressure all its members. Every person faces these horrors alone, so the fear and hatred can awaken the hidden sides of our soul. Unfortunately, they are not always the best ones.

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How Is the Theme of Animal Instinct Depicted in All Quiet on the Western Front?


The novel “All Quiet on the Western Front” represents the war story on the grounds of real-life events, which also depicts its antiwar nature. Be that as it may, the author of the novel Erich Maria Remarque, tells the story of a generation that has been infected by war and the consequences of warfare experience on the overall development of society. One of the main points of the story concludes in the fact of the war experience that has been reflected on the fate of many people who seemed to be bypassed by the war events themselves. Still, they have suffered due to the general consequences that have been caused by the events altogether. All in all, the fact remains to be the same, war has impacted every facet of human life, including its social, cultural, historical, economic, educational and certainly political reality, and this is what the author manages to portray in his novel.

Impact of War on Society

Nonetheless, one of the central motives that permeate the story is the nature of the human being, its contextuality in terms of war and the meaning of war regarding human nature. This way, the author provides his reader with the meaning of human nature in terms of its manifestation in the context of war, where the animal instinct takes quite a considerable place. All in all, the animal instinct in the novel is what hides behind the principles of civilized society and what comes to be evident in terms of the revelation of human nature, where the war becomes the central factor of its disclosure.

Human Nature in the Context of War

The author Erich Maria Remarque does not specifically emphasize the getting into the concepts of human nature, the discovery of basic instincts, however, the process of revelation comes to be evident throughout the story. Indeed, the motives of human nature permeate the story thoroughly, and therefore they become apparent due to the integral comprehension of the story altogether, along with the artistic backgrounds that the author puts in the narrative. The background of the author is what makes him be able to express himself, to allow himself to find his inner self though adding the tone and the personal voice to the story, setting the mood and the atmosphere of events, this is what makes his story authentic and unique. This way, it happens to be true that the facets of human nature become evident in terms of how the author builds the narrative, which is without the evident manifestation of the basic principles of human nature and “how to find it.” As it has been already mentioned in the beginning, in spite of the fact that there is no focus on the motives of human nature, the author emphasizes the revelation of animal instincts discretely, making only the careful reader notice things. This way, through the careful analysis it appears to be possible to note the concepts of how the matter of human nature is revealed. Still, it is also possible to note the central point regarding the topic through the evolvement of the plot which in turn sets the atmosphere and the mood, as it has been already mentioned in the beginning.

Tragic Nature of War and Human Life

All in all, the tragic nature of the war events is what makes the story for revealing the motives of the nature of the human being discreetly, to manifest the tragic nature first, and then what it accordingly leads to. It is important to understand that the war events are being told through the point of view of the main protagonist, Paul Bäumer, who in turn represents the initial source, through which the reader gets the first impression of what is happening through the development of the story narrative (Remarque). War is what wastes everything and everyone, and for this reason, people are not able to adjust in terms of normal life, war represents the factor that irreparably changes human life forever. What is also important, that the story of Remarque does not tell the story of honor, the war is perceived as something absolutely negative and invariably unwanted, people are not heroic, everybody represents the victim, who altogether are vestiges of the havoc, that has been brought upon by the woes of the war (Benezet and Law, 135). This matter of writing that represents the war as crushing factor that caused irreparable damages, without any certain heroization, without the view of any honour in it, is what makes Remarque to be an outstanding author of his time, as he stated against the power of dominating literature of his time that portrayed the war as opposed to his view.

Depiction of Human Nature as Animal Instinct

In fact, as it has been already mentioned, the matter of animal instinct in humans does not occupy the central spot in the evolvement of the narrative, still, it comes to be evident in tiny details, the amount of which is quite considerable, and getting into details, would be the same as reading the whole book from the beginning until the end. Nonetheless, it is more important to understand how the author is doing it and what is the reason for depicting human nature in terms of animal instinct (Wood, 90). Be that as it may, it happens to be obvious that the author is doing it in order to be able to portray the war the way it has been, in order to present the authentic view of the events that took place. It is also obvious that the author is portraying the war in the way of the most horrible nightmare, the crisis of human nature, something that is unnatural and at the same time the most natural phenomenon that has even occur (Winston). By making it unnatural, the author portrays the crisis of civilization, the nature of the human being which is uncovered in the intersubjectivity of civilized society, when the genuine naturality of it comes from the understanding of human instincts which have the animal nature as well (Lider, 73). It is not clear, whether the instincts is what makes people conduct the warfare, or the war is what wakes them, most likely it is both.


Thus, animal instincts of people is an important facet of the novel “All Quiet on the Western Front” by Erich Maria Remarque, but it does not happen to be the central motif of the plot. The central theme concludes in the nature of war, which reveals the nature of human being, and accordingly the animal instincts. All in all, the author does not provide his reader with the alternatives or solution, therefore, the nature of the novel is somewhat historical, it tells the reader about what has happened, it manages to tell how it happened, and what consequences it has caused, among which the revelation of animal instincts of the human beings.

Works Cited

Benezet, Anthony, and William Law. Thoughts On The Nature Of War, & C. [Philadelphia]: [publisher not identified], 1776. Print.
Remarque, Erich Maria. All Quiet On The Western Front. New York: Ballantine Books, 2008. Print.
Lider, Julian. On The Nature Of War. Aldershot: Gower, 1983. Print.
Winston, Robert M. L. Human Instinct. London: Bantam Books Ltd, 2008. Print.
Wood, Charlotte. Animal People. Sydney, N.S.W.: Allen & Unwin, 2012. Print.