Blasphemous Dehumanization in The Chrysalids by John Wyndham and The Island by Laurie MacDonald
The process of dehumanization greatly impacted two completely corrupt worlds driven by the inhumane ways of treating their people and embedding such morals into their societies; sculpting an ultimate dystopia. The similarities between the book ‘The Chrysalids’ by John Wyndham and the movie ‘The Island’ produced by Laurie MacDonald, both illustrated the topic of human differentiation influenced by the small flaws and imperfections, that the society did not accept into their category of perfection. The relevance of dehumanization in both works were revealed by the immoral gestures of calling their blasphemous citizens soulless, banning them of procreating through sterilization and examining them for abnormalities before identity gain; fully degrading them of their basic human rights.
In a perfect world, the miniscule differences people inhabit do not seem to cross minds often. However, ‘The Chrysalids’ and ‘The Island,’ showed immense hatred towards people of different nature, to the point of placing these people into the category of obtaining no human soul. An event in ‘The Chrysalids’ which exampled this was a time when the inspector was explaining why the deviated were not accepted. He went on to say that “every part of the definition is as important as any other; and if a child doesn’t come with it, then it isn’t human, and that means it doesn’t have a soul” (Wyndham 55). Their strong beliefs of perfect God-sent humans altered the perception they held against those who did not fit the standards, as the Inspector was saying how anyone who does not come as ideal as they should, they are soulless and have no means to the world. Very similarly, ‘The Island’ portrayed the opinion of the different being soulless through a scene in which Dr.Merrick explains that ” they’re simply tools, instruments. They have no souls”(Macdonald). Talking about the people of the clone headquarters being nothing but tools that are the generations newest success. These two points in both works relate a lot to each other and to the topic of dehumanization as they discussed how someone else’s minority completely striped their soul away, and immediately made them non-human. They related back to the outrageous morals that both works stood by and revolved around, taking away a person’s inner self solely for something that was out of their control, like a small birthmark or a different way they were made. This way of thinking showed many people being degraded in the two works and their feelings of hopelessness due to an imperfection that led them to be hollowed out from a soul.
Ultimately, a human’s prime job is to continue on giving life and flourishing the ongoing generations with offspring, and when taken away it deprives them from their natural human instincts of reproduction. Despite that, the two works did not have the same perception on whether or not all humans should be granted such opportunity to pass down their genes further and further down centuries. The Waknuk society in ‘The Chrysalids’ send out the deviated to an area called the Fringes, where they store everyone who is not made perfectly by God. When entering this area, the women are automatically sterilized and forbidden to spread their deviations amongst the growing population. The fear of allowing deviations to flow through bloodlines circulated past the minds of the Waknukians, making them for any plan that ensured the risk of mutations got lower and lower. A farm keeper named Old Jacob confirmed this by saying that “a woman who bore a child that wasn’t in the image was whipped for it. If she bore three out of the image she was uncertified, outlawed, and sold”(Wyndham 88), referencing not only deviated women were stripped from fertility but anyone who produced three mutatious kids. These actions were alike to how the cloned people were made in ‘The Island,’ having no knowledge even of reproduction as well as the ability to do so. Those who controlled the incubation centre did not want the clones to begin creating offspring as they believed they were not humans in the slightest. For those reasons and beliefs, the clones did not have the option or say in procreating with each other, which degraded their roles as human beings regardless cloned or not. Both the book and the movie incorporated sterilization as a way to portray the topic of dehumanization because it demonstrated how the entire human purpose was taken away from them due to the fearfulness of not producing the perfect race. The deprivation forever stuck with those who got sterilized, as they knew their bodily functions of creating life had been stolen and kept from them, all over one flaw.
The knowledge of everyone’s differences are what make them unique and their own person are words being taught to the current society, but the dystopias live by the polar opposite. The obsession of curating a flawless race led both worlds to invasive examinations before any identity status was allowed to be given. ‘The Chrysalids”s community had very stern rules about welcoming new infants into families, they went incognito until an examination was done by an inspector, verifying if the child can be identified as a human or soulless and nonhuman. The extensive dedication they had towards their beliefs lead the Inspector to also say “Sometimes he is clever enough to make a nearly-perfect imitation, So we have always to be on the look-out for the mistake he has made, however small, and when we see one it must be reported at once”(Wyndham 55) about why such a strong requirement there was for the examination in their society. Identically, in ‘The Island,’ the creators of the clones go through the same process of reviving their growing clones and inspecting them before they were allowed to be registered into their system. These two events are very similar to each other and towards the topic of dehumanization as they display how flaws affect the humanness of someone before confirming there are none. It dispossess them of life and freedom as they were sent and closed off if the true image was not met. The comparison between the two works shows how in either dystopias, the true image inevitably needed to be met always, as their beliefs were stronger than their moral aspect telling them it was the wrongdoing to categorize based off a topical blasphemy visible to the eye. The personal invasion taken by the authorities in both works, painted the visual as to how serious their faiths were tied to the idea of needing to inspect other beings to confirm or deny them of humanly status over a biased opinion for the definition of perfect.
The significance of the theme of dehumanization in both ‘The Chrysalids’ and ‘The Island,’ were shown throughout events like invalidating people’s inner selves, not allowing them to create offspring and require mandatory inspection before human identity was granted; depriving them from many human freedoms and rights. The intense classification placed upon blasphemic people in calling them soulless had a toll on how they felt as people inside, wanting to be accepted for who they are instead of being known as devil-sent. The sterilization of those who made or were different themselves fully took away the liveliness in the people, as that one hope of giving someone the gift of life was unrightfully taken away from them for impurities that did not meet the true image wanted. Putting the people under examination to decide whether or not they would classify as human, added the doubts and fears of survival as an abnormality as well as the degradation over powerless factors onto those who were undergoing the tests in both works. The irrational moral standards of the authorities left the innocent struggling over the validation of the person they wish to live as, not the person they have been set to be.
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