Repent Harlequin
"’Repent, Harlequin!’ Said the Ticktockman," by Harlan Ellison
illustrates a futuristic society governed by time. In 2389, when the story takes
place, man has become so obsessed with punctuality, that if one does not posses
this quality, he can be punished by death. Those who become heroes and strive to
save the world from destruction by the clock become enemies by the world because
they are non-conformists. This is the case for Everett C. Marm, or better known
as the Harlequin, who tries in vain to transform the unacceptability of the
regulations. Harlan Ellison introduces to us the idea of serving society in
various forms. The reader sees that many in society have transformed into that
which society believes. There are many ways in which people respond to society,
some follow without question and others do what they feel is right, despite the
consequences. Ellison uses specific examples of imagery, diction, and
characterization to illustrate the importance of reform in society. Ellison used
imagery to display the Harlequin’s rebellion as well as the societies actions
and thoughts. In illustrating the robot-like lives of his society, Ellison
wrote, "He could hear the metronomic, left-right-left of the 2:47 shift,
entering the Timkin roller-bearing plant in their sneakers... he heard the
right-left-right of the 5:00 AM formation, going home." This quote shows the
punctuality of the people, as well as the organization of the strict society
they live. The shift was not 2:45, but rather exactly 2:47, not sooner or later.

In addition, the workers that were arriving took steps "left-right-left"
whereas the ones going home walked "right-left-right." This allegorizes
exactly how over-organized society was. There was so much control over the
people that they no longer did what they wanted to, or what they felt was right.

They automatically did what law said to, forgetting their own feelings and
opinions on whether or not the laws were morally correct. When Marshall

Delahauty had received his "turn-off message," he tried to escape. As he ran
away, "his heart stopped, and the blood dried up on its way to his brain, and
he was dead that’s all." This shows the reader the extreme control of the

Ticktockman. He had the power to end the lives of people as he pleased. Not only
that, we are shown the insignificance of these people in society, which is seen
when the author wrote, "and he was dead that’s all." His death is
portrayed to be insignificant, which is shown by the use of imagery. Society was
so brainwashed that they were dehumanized as well. They no longer cared or felt
anything for another human being. They death of a relative was no longer
important. Furthermore, when the Harlequin spilled jellybeans all over the city,
the people saw it as the most horrible thing, which is apparent because of all
the commotion that it caused. "Jelly beans! Millions and billions of purples
and yellows and greens...round and smooth and crunchy outside and soft-mealy
inside...bouncing jouncing tumbling clattering skittering fell on the heads and
shoulders...entering a universe of sanity and metronomic order with quite-mad
coocoo newsness." Ellison uses imagery to clearly give the reader a feeling of
being in the story, viewing the jellybeans as they fall from the sky. It is an
effective use because it shows what chaos the jellybeans brought upon the
machine-like society. Ellison would not have been able to describe this society
without the use of imagery, because it appeals to the senses and allows the
reader to picture exactly what is going on in the story with their vision,
taste, as well as their smell. The use of imagery shows that the people viewed
everything that was different from their daily monotonous lives as horrible.

Ellison is showing us that we refrain from conforming because without reforms,
no progress would be made in life. Diction is a tool used to show how society
functioned as well of what kinds of people were included within it. In order to
keep track of the populace and control the amount of life one was allowed, each
person had their set of a "time-card and cardioplate." These were futuristic
inventions that signify the control that the Ticktockman had over his people. In
addition, many futuristic terms were used to illustrate how society functioned.

From "slidewalks" to "coffee-bulbs" to "fax boxes," Ellison shows
the manner in which society was managed. Furthermore, Ellison used diction to
show the importance of time in the Ticktockman’s society. An example is when
the workers were climbing to their construction platforms "releasing their a-grav
plates, rising toward the Harlequin." These people were