The Matrix- Tiptree Style

The Girl Who Was Plugged In made several different impressions upon me as I went through the piece. At first, the setting reminded me somewhat of a Hunger Games or 1984 type society where the citizens are oppressed, poor, unhappy, in bad health, controlled, and overall mistreated. The description of P. Burke as some type of ugly, nonhuman-like creature seemed very strange to me, and I didn’t quite understand what made her that way or if the other people in her society were similar. The futuristic aspects of the setting such as the glimpses of advanced technology were some of my favorite aspects of the piece. I immediately thought of The Matrix when P. Burke was plugged into the machine as Delphi’s brain, except her experience was real and tangible rather than virtual. When Delphi, or P. Burke, found love with Paul, she was trapped and doomed from the beginning, which I found to be one of the only emotional aspects of the story. Even though she is basically predisposed to this tragic turn in events from happy, carefree Delphi to the dead, monster-like corpse, it’s incredibly sad that Paul was the actual cause of her downfall. At the same time, I feel that P. Burke died happily and satisfied because she was able to experience a beautiful, privileged life she could never have dreamed of where everything was handed to her. Also, her one true impossible hope was fulfilled, the hope of being able to see Paul in her own reality instead of from Delphi’s, and for Paul to see her for who she truly was. The tone begins to change from excited and happy to panicked and depressed when Delphi realizes that she isn’t able to have Paul while keeping her promise of dedication to her bosses and scientists. She understands that what she thought was a perfect world isn’t so perfect, and that the human part of her cannot cooperate with the machine part of her, leading to disfunction and the ultimate death of both P. Burke and Delphi. I was also confused by the fact that even when P. Burke is not plugged in, Delphi still could speak and have a mind of her own at times, such as when she calls Paul’s name in her sleep or when she is still able to talk and function after P. Burke is already dead. Altogether, this piece was very puzzling and a bit disturbing to me, but props to the author for pushing those boundaries!

-Courteney Feld

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