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“Consider the Lobster” by David Wallace Essay

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Updated: Mar 29th, 2020


Wallace discusses a cruel manner in which lobsters are hunted and cooked during the Maine Lobster Festival, which has been held during the last six decades (Wallace 10). The author describes the festival as it appears from an outsider’s point of view. It is depicted as a fun event with a variety of activities such as cooking competitions, crate races, and so on. He, however, stresses that despite being a seemingly entertaining event, the festival is actually about killing over 25,000 lobsters (Wallace 24).

The author provides an in-depth observation of the event, explaining how the creatures are captured and cooked; he also provides some information on their appearance, as well as gives facts about their anatomy. This paper summarizes the article.

Analysis of the article

The writer talks about the animal’s emotional conditions and tries to paint a lobster as a creature with feelings which suffers pain right in the same way as a human being. This is, however, grossly ignored every time they are killed and cooked. He acknowledges that during the festival people tend to look past the grim reality so that they can enjoy the meat without being aware of the deaths that have to happen so that they can have their delicacies (Wallace 34).

Wallace wants to remove from readers the notion that those animals are creatures with no feelings and which exist for the sake of providing entertainment. He uses an illustration of a cook grilling that can be compared with a lobster to underpin the reality of the cruel treatment that the animals undergo.

The author is embittered by the fact that for the animal to be cooked, it needs to be alive. He finds it disturbing that this is so obvious yet it is taken for granted. Wallace states that “a detail so obvious that recipes do not bother to mention is that the lobster is supposed to be alive when you put it in the kettle” (Wallace 46). He tries to put forward an idea that people who attend the festival and insist on eating fresh lobsters are ignorant of the fact that these delicacies are only fresh because they are alive when they are being cooked, which is an epitome of cruelty.

He insists that a reader should look past the fact that the creatures are food, but think of them as animals with feelings and emotions. He argues that, unlike some other animals, these animals cannot be claimed to be resistant to pain by lacking the part of the brain that allows them to feel it. Although this has been used to justify the cruelty against lobsters, he argues that if this were the case, the lid on the kettle would not have to be locked. The animals are tortured to death while being locked up. Ergo wishes to instill in his readers that when they attend the festival and eat lobsters, they are actively promoting the cruelty perpetrated against them.

The precious animals, according to Wallace, are not very different from humans. Like human beings, they can smell and taste. He asks whether “it all right to boil a sentient creature alive just for our gustatory pleasure?” (Wallace 48). He challenges the notion that killing lobsters in a cruel manner is simply a matter of individual choice. He asks people, especially those who hold those animals to be tortured simply for the sake of providing them with food or entertainment, to adopt ethical approaches (Wallace 50). This would go a long way in preventing lobsters from much suffering, which culminates in death.

He describes the experience of a cab driver who says he has not attended the festival for some time for the reason that it usually takes too long to get animal delicacies. Furthermore, when one is queuing for them, several girls walk up and down, passing pamphlets that describe how the creatures die a painful death. Wallace describes painstakingly the process of “preparing” a lobster, which to him is the same as torturing and killing. He likens the festival to a hypothetical scenario where all cows are taken into a massive cauldron and killed. Of course, this would not be acceptable.

According to him, the one first boils water and puts lobsters inside. The latter struggles by making frantic movements, not unlike a person trying to escape some forms of emergencies. It even hooks its claws around the edge of a pot and tries to climb out. Thus, were it not for the fact that pots have lids, the creatures could easily get out (Wallace 70). Wallace also describes the alternative processes of cooking lobsters, which include microwaving them alive or tearing them apart when they are still alive.


In conclusion, the author argues that it is immoral that humans can value their taste for a certain type of protein over the life of an animal. He proposes that persons should desist from killing the animals to enjoy their meat.

Works Cited

Wallace, David Foster. Consider the lobster. New York, NY: Little, Brown and Company, 2005. Print.

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