Dragon Teeth Themes & Motifs

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Rivalry

The historical rivalry between Othniel Marsh and Edward Cope is a principal basis for the plot of the novel, and the narrative uses the idea of this real-life rivalry to explore the viciousness that can arise between people based on rather petty reasons. Ostensibly, Marsh and Cope’s rivalry is motivated by the fact that they both work in paleontology, which in 1876 was a relatively new scientific discipline. Marsh and Cope both know that many important fossils remain undiscovered, and as the narration notes, “they knew that fame and honor would accrue to the man who discovered and described the largest number” (109). Marsh and Cope thusly feel as if they are in direct competition with one another, and they stoop to harsh and brutal tactics of sabotage, including but not limited to direct and open violence. Thus, their feud is portrayed as harsh and unnecessary, as...

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This section contains 2,506 words
(approx. 7 pages at 400 words per page)
Buy the Dragon Teeth Study Guide
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