The Landscape of D-503’s Mind
Zamyatin’s excerpt “Evening…. digestible concept, by…” illustrates the landscape of D-503’s shambolic mind, in order to establish the roots as the irrational pursuit of perfection. Zamyatin begins by establishing the metaphor between the terrestrial world and a notion of paradise, in which there is perfection. The “golden milky fabric” that Zamyatin describes, suggests the notion that from below this fabric, or this divide, the unattainability of perfection is murky since it is milky, however with the golden feature of the fabric, D-503 suggests that it is a pursuit worthy of efforts because gold is unanimous with success (Zamyatin 54). This description in itself emphasizes the irrationality of this pursuit because the description of milky is juxtaposed with the description of golden, which suggests that the route to success is murky and unclear. This failure to acknowledge the flaw or implication of his statement, lead to the disillusionment of D-503 as he realizes that the path to success, which is for him the path to perfection, is unattainable. The flaw in his reasoning suggests the humanity of D-503 since humans are highly prone to oversee detail, which is the basis of accurate knowledge and perfection. This human quality makes humans prone to never attain perfection in regards to their state of mind and develop an ability to understand the world. Zamyatin furthers this his establishment of setting with D-503’s explicit statement of the “evening” that comes with a “light fog,” (54). The chronology of day and the weather are aspects of life that humans do not have the ability to control. The evening setting suggest an unknown because of the lack of light in the evening, while a light fog ensue an even greater feeling of frustration in the fabric, because fog is an entity that once individuals believe they trespass they only pass in order to find more fog, in this case even more obstacles in the pursuit of perfection.
Zamyatin’s chaotic syntax illustrate D-503’s pursuit for perfection within the landscape of his mind, in order to emphasize the negative consequence of this irrational pursuit which the development of even more confusion in the mind of the individual, in regards to their identity. At the beginning of the passage, there is a minimal appearance of ellipses, dashes, and parenthesis. As he becomes more stubborn in his pursuit of perfection, he loses his ability to develop and write his ideas clearly as seen by the abundance of clarifying punctuation that is, by the end combined. This establishes the irony perfection comes as a result of disorganization, because there is a limit to human ability and all perfection starts with imperfection, therefore disorder is the prerequisite to the betterment of an individual, but not necessarily the perfection of an individual. This notion emphasizes the difficulty of clarifying the workings of the mind, which condemns the One State for striping the ciphers of their humanity and therefore the little context they have to understand any of the workings of their minds. For this reason, D-503 fails to acknowledge that what he needs is not perfection, but rather a sense of individuality and imperfection in order to allow him to learn from his mistakes himself, and truly develop a more clear depiction of his mind.
The ambiguity on the description of D-503’s mental landscape, condemns the pursuit of a notion that is incomprehensible, such as perfection, in order to emphasize that perfection loses it’s meaning once society creates its members as already perfect. In essence, there must be an idea of imperfect to judge whether something is perfect. D-503 describes his mental state as there, “both here and infinitely far” (54). The ambiguity of his sense on his pursuit of perfection, since he compares himself to a god that represents perfection, describes the human tendency never fully understand where they are in this pursuit, however, they must acknowledge that there is a difference between the two there’s, The one described as infinitely far as perfection, while the one described as here as reality. Therefore, those who are closer to their thoughts have a better understanding of them, and thus, understand the importance if content when improving the state of the mind. The pursuit of impossible perfection makes everything unclear, and thus establishes an illustration of an illogical and suffering mind. A mind that must make logical sense out of seemigly incoherent pieces of reality.
Ameron Book 2 the Second Sword by Adam Federspiel Prologue Tyrone Story
Ameron Book 2 The Second Sword By Adam Federspiel
Tyrone was starting to get scared. His team was supposed to meet for a Pyroball practice, but no one showed up. At first he thought it was a prank, but he searched all around the vast, labyrinthine Academy, and he couldn’t find any of them. He had been trying to text them ever since his party, but no one responded. He bumped into Adrian, Mason, and Ne Laa. Despite everything the Academy has been through, they still looked like their normal selves. Adrian had “Hey, Tyrone!” Mason said. “Hey guys,” Tyrone said deadpan. “Is something the matter?” Ne Laa asked. “Oh, it’s nothing,” Tyrone said. “It doesn’t seem like it,” Adrian said. “It’s just… my friends are missing, and I’m starting to get concerned…” Tyrone said. “Where was the last place you saw them?” Ne Laa asked.“At my party…” Tyrone said.“Well, maybe they’re at your house?” Adrian asked.“Hmm… you might be right!” Tyrone said. “Thanks!” Tyrone ran up to his room, down the plain stone hallways, to get some of his stuff he wanted to take home.
Since I’m going to my house, I might as well take my books, Tyrone thought. Tyrone may have been a jock, but he was secretly a huge bookworm. He liked adventure books, funny books, but most of all he read books about explorers. His by far favorite were the books about the legendary explorer, Jack Dakana. He read about his adventures, such as discovering the first plant of Ameron, a giant tree which he named the Yggdrasil, and travelling to other universes. He walked inside, only to find his room a mess. The floor was covered in dirty clothes, old books, and scuffed up Pyroball gear.“What the fuck?” Tyrone yelled. “I just organized my room!” Suddenly, he heard a noise in the bathroom.“Huh? Who’s there?” Tyrone asked. There was a deathly silence. Tyrone slowly walked towards the bathroom. He opened the door, ready for a fight. But no one was there. “Phew!” Tyrone thought. “I must be losing my mind. ”A hand shot out from behind him and grabbed his neck. It threw him at the wall with superhuman strength. Tyrone looked up and saw who it was. “Surprised to see me?” Moone asked. “Moone?!” Tyrone said incredulously. “I heard you were looking for your friends,” Moone said. “Yeah, so?” Tyrone asked. “Would you like to see them?“ Moone asked. “Yeah…”“Well that… is wonderful…” Moone said. Moone laughed as he ran at Tyrone. Tyrone got out of the way, causing Moone to crash into the wall. “Get away from me!” Tyrone shouted. Tyrone tried to punch him in the face, but Moone fell back and sunk into his own shadow. What the hell?! Tyrone thought. Moone suddenly appeared behind him. He extended his arm and shot a shuriken at Tyrone, using a machine attached to his arm. Tyrone screamed in pain. “You’re lucky Magnus wants his test subjects alive, or else I would’ve shot you with one of my poisonous shurikens.” Moone said. Moone grabbed Tyrone, and disappeared into the shadows. Out of reach, and out of sight.
Men have become the tools of their tools
Henry David Thoreau, a leading philosopher of the 19th century, stated that “Men have become the tools of their tools.” Machine Man, written by Max Barry, holds true to this quote. In this fiction novel, scientist Charles Neumann surrounds his entire life based on mechanical parts for which he switches out his biological parts. Up until nearly the end of the novel, Charles can be referred to as a cyborg, meaning he relies on these mechanical parts to extend his physical capabilities. He loses his morality for biology increasingly, as he allows mechanical parts to take over his entire body. Although technology continues advancing and is becoming more resourceful, it can have damaging effects. In Charles Neumann’s case, the use of technology is detrimental to his overall health.
First, using technology negatively impacts Charles’ mental health. Machine Man immediately begins with Charles criticizing robots as a child. For example, he claims “Instead of doing one thing right, they [robots] did everything badly” (Barry 3). As early as the first page, readers pick up on the fact that Charles has a hunch for improving machinery. Later, in his adult life, Charles becomes a scientist, and he works for an engineering company called Better Future. Ironically, Charles loses a leg in an unfortunate work accident because he becomes worried about finding his phone. Unhappy about the choice between several undesirable prosthetic legs, Charles creates his own artificial leg, but he finds that having one biological leg and one mechanical leg hinders him from reaching his full walking potential. Without delay, Charles begins constructing a second leg, and, without remorse, he removes his last biological leg from his body. Throughout the plot, Charles constantly makes new parts for his body. In a logical sense, it is not normal for one to remove his or her own body parts when they are functional. Not to mention, he puts this type of work before everything else, making no time for socializing. Isolation and the constant need for control are symptoms of an obsessive compulsive personality disorder, those of which Charles displays. According to The New Harvard Guide to Women’s Health, “Typically people with this disorder are unjustifiably stingy with time and money, and often are workaholics, valuing productivity or possessions above other people” (Carlson, “Personality Disorders”). This description holds true of Charles, as he is always focused on his strange work, many times forgetting to eat or sleep.
Additionally, Charles believes his mechanical body parts will drive attention to him. Lola Shanks, Charles’ prosthetist and love interest, contributes to his desire for more mechanical body parts. For instance, she compliments his work, saying “Oh, Charlie. It’s beautiful. It’s completely beautiful” (Barry, 56). Lola makes Charlie feel as though he matters, and that’s a feeling he’s never had, as he mentions his dating life has been nonexistent for quite some time (Barry 9). Perhaps his insecurity is lessened by Lola’s compliments to the point where he believes, ironically, that people will appreciate him as a person if he becomes more of a machine. Of course, in the natural world, an actual machine man might be marveled at; however, Charles is only fooling himself by thinking that going through the extremes of changing his body to the point where he has no body will gain him a love worth having. Insecurity means “lacking self-confidence,” and that is just how Charles can be described (The American Heritage Dictionary of Medicine, “insecure”). By and large, rather than facing his insecurities and doubts, Charles takes advantage of technology, leading to his downfall.
Charles proves that technology weakens his social well-being. In the beginning chapter, Charles says “I have no friends, am estranged from my family, and haven’t dated in this decade” (Barry 9). This early description of his social life guarantees an understanding of later behavior, and it seems like that of an introverted personality. The Macquarie Dictionary refers to an introvert as “somebody whose attention and interests are directed towards his or her own mental life” and “somebody who is uneasy in company [and] shy” (“Introvert”). Perhaps because of his introverted personality, he isn’t often surrounded by others. Furthermore, if Charles believes his mechanical body will gain himself validation and approval from others, he has stepped in the wrong direction. Technology is a tool used to improve interaction between people, but in Charles’ case, his physicality distances himself from others. Also, Charles’ obsessive nature heavily impacts his relationship with Lola Shanks. Lola cares about Carl, another prosthetic patient, and she tends to him, which brings out the jealousy in Charles. Because of his emotions, Charles decides he isn’t going to allow Carl the pleasure of using the other marvelous mechanical body parts he has composed. Charles’ selfishness becomes apparent, and, consequently, Lola pushes Charles out of her life. Finally, technology is an overall hindrance to Charles’ well-being in the long run. For example, Charles loses all evidence of being human when he becomes a soul inside of a screen (Barry 271). Clearly the purpose of technology is redefined in Charles’ mind. Oddly enough, Charles’ social life spirals downhill as he goes from using technology to actually becoming it.
Charles Neumann’s life revolves around technology, just as many other humans depend on it in the 21st century. Charles represents a society that cannot function without the use of technology, and his life portrays the consequences. Max Barry presents the idea that one should not become so dependent on technology that his or her life ends up on the line of uncertainty. Charles busies himself with becoming someone of importance, yet he ends up as nothing but a box. All things considered, Charles no longer lives a normal nor healthy lifestyle, all because of his one-track mind.
Barry, Max. Machine Man. N.p.: Vintage, 2011. Print. “insecure.” The American Heritage Dictionary of Medicine, edited by Editors of the American Heritage Dictionaries, Houghton Mifflin, 2nd edition, 2015. Credo Reference. Accessed 28 Mar 2017. “introvert.” Def.1. The Penguin English Dictionary. Ed. R. E. Allen, Penguin, 3rd edition, 2007. Credo Reference. Accessed 28 Mar 2017. “Personality Disorders.” New Harvard Guide to Women’s Health, The, Karen J. Carlson, et al., Harvard University Press, 1st edition, 2004. Credo Reference. Accessed 28 Mar 2017.
Book Review: Throne of Glass by Sarah J Maas
Throne of Glass by Sarah J Maas. Those who love fast paced adventure, magic, and a little bit of romance will love this book. It is angled mostly towards young adults, but anyone can pick up the book and enjoy it.
Other books similar to this one include The Hunger Games, Cinder, The Young Elites, The Red Queen, and Snow Like Ashes. The Throne of Glass centers around the main character Celaena Sardothien, a notorious assassin. After being captured, the only way to earn her freedom is to fight as the King’s Champion in an intense competition. Celaena has to decide who to trust and who to stay away from in an endless struggle between wrong and right. But, a dark magic is lurking inside the castle alongside the competition, and her fight for freedom becomes a fight to survive.
She must find the source of the darkness and destroy it, before it consumes her world.Celaena Sardothien is a no nonsense skilled assassin who has been feared for most of her life. She is tough, sharp witted, and sharp tongued, and has no problem taking care of herself. She lives life on the edge, and is always prepared to dominate any situation. Celaena follows her morals, even in the face of hardships. She is the type of heroine who doesn’t need to remind anyone of her true strengths. She will do whatever it takes to protect those she loves, and will go to incredible lengths to save the world she knows.
If Celaena were to apply to college, she would apply to West Point. “To educate, train, and inspire the Corps of Cadets so that each graduate is a commissioned leader of character committed to the values of Duty, Honor, Country and prepared for a career of professional excellence and service to the Nation as an officer in the United States Army.” I selected West Point for Celaena because it is the type of school that she would want to attend. She trained for most of her life as an assassin, and would enjoy putting her skills to use in a place where she could do good. Although, I think she would have a problem with the strict rules and regulations, but on a spur of the moment decision, I could see her deciding that she wanted to go to a military academy. The school also has a very good reputation, which would be an important factor in her decision. Also, the boarding and admission is free, since you would be going directly into the army afterwards. This would only strengthen Celaena’s resolve to go there. I think West Point would be a stronger fit than any other college.
Literary Analysis of the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy is a science-fiction parody novel by Douglas Adams. It can be classified as an absurdist story where the protagonist searches a meaning to life. Throughout this character’s journey, he’s faced with multiple obstacles which are totally absurd events that defy all logic reason. This novel particularly stands out for its distinguishing writing style. It’s specifically particular because of its use of multiple literary devices, gallows humour and satire to emphasize the absurdity of the novel, which truly is what makes it unique. Adams sheds light on the ridiculousness and silliness of things we generally regard as normal.
Literary devices to convey absurdity
Many times throughout the novel, Douglas Adams uses literary devices to amplify the absurdity of his narrative. For example, the narrator uses the personification of a bowl of petunias when he tells the story of two missiles targeting the Heart of Gold that are changed into a sperm whale and a bowl of petunias using the Infinite Improbability Drive. During its fall to its doom, the bowl of petunia, given humanlike characteristics, has time to think “Oh no, not again” before reaching its splattered demise. This is a good example of the use of absurdity through personification.
Adams also makes a parallelism between the destruction of Arthur Dent’s house and the destruction of the Earth by the Vogons. In both cases, the house and the Earth are destroyed to make way for a bypass, and both leader of the destructions, M. Prosser and Prostetnic Vogon Jeltz, use the same argument: Arthur and the residents of the Earth should have known about these plans since they were on display. There’s a great sense of absurdity within the fact that the city council’s reasons for the abrupt demolishing of Arthur’s house are the same as the Vorgons’ reasons for destroying the Earth. This absurdity alludes to Adam’s view of the world and the general silliness of the society and bureaucratic nonsense.
Lastly, the narrator also uses foreshadowing, which consists in giving an advance hint to what’s to come later in the story. For instance, in chapter sixteen, the narrator notes that the stress is a serious problem after Arthur said “The suspense is killing me”. So to avoid too much suspense, the narrator reveals a few things to the reader in advance. There’s absurdity behind the fact that Adams reveals twist and turns that look far-fetched to the reader considering that the latter is unable to make sense of these revelations since they’re so far away in the story’s timeline. Adam probably used this literary device in order to create suspense and to generate a need to see how the story develops.
In brief, the use of literary devices such as personification, parallelism and foreshadowing really emphasizes the absurdity of the climax and overall plot line of Douglas Adams’ novel.
The use of gallows humour
The tone employed by Adams throughout his fictional story is gallows humor. By definition, gallows humour consists of making fun of a hopeless, disastrous or terrifying situation. The narrator makes sure that every life-threatening situation Arthur Dent ends up into is resolved in a quirky, dark and dry humoristic and ridiculous way. Adams mostly makes use of this type of humor when a character knows something awful is going to happen and there’s nothing to do about it. For example, a good usage of gallows humor would be when Arthur and Ford are caught by Prostetnic Vogon Jeltz while hiding from him. Ford humoristically says: “If we’re unlucky, the captain might be serious in his threat that he’s going to read us some of his poetry [before he throws us into space]…” Adams decides to make a joke out of a life-threatening situation knowing that the reader will ask himself an absurd question that would normally have no place in circumstances like these.
Another good use of gallows humor is when Arthur starts to realize the fact that the Earth is now destroyed and everything he has known is lost. Instead of grieving the loss of his loved ones, he’s shattered by the fact that there are no supermarkets anymore. “There was no way his imagination could feel the impact of the whole Earth having gone, it was too big. He prodded his feelings by thinking that his parents and his sister had gone. No reaction. He thought of all the people he had been close to. No reaction. Then he thought of a complete stranger he had been standing behind in the queue at the supermarket before and felt a sudden stab — the supermarket was gone, everything in it was gone. Nelson’s Column had gone! Nelson’s Column had gone and there would be no outcry, because there was no one left to make an outcry. From now on Nelson’s Column only existed in his mind. England only existed in his mind — his mind, stuck here in this dank smelly steel-lined spaceship. A wave of claustrophobia closed in on him.” In a serious and hopeless situation, Arthur jokes about missing more his local supermarket rather than his family members.
Lastly, Adams also use gallows humour when Arthur meets with Slartibartfast and they both leave in his aircar. The old man tells Arthur: “Follow me or you’ll be ‘late.’ And by ‘late,’ I mean ‘dead.’’
In conclusion, gallows humor is used quite a lot by Adams to get to most out of disastrous situations. It really brings out the absurdity of this novel since every joke is completely absurd. While the book in question may not make everyone laugh, the completely “off the wall” questions and use of gallows humor are what’s truly funny.
Satire and mocking modern times
From time to times, Douglas Adams uses satire to expose and criticize foolishness and corruption of modern society with humor, irony and exaggeration. He often makes jokes on social problems and morality. For instance, he used satire in the beginning of the novel as a tool to share his point of view on the Earth and humans. “Orbiting this at a distance of roughly ninety-eight million miles is an utterly insignificant little blue-green planet whose ape-descended life forms are so amazingly primitive that they still think digital watches are a pretty neat idea. Most of the people living on it were unhappy for pretty much of the time. Many solutions were suggested for this problem, but most of these were largely concerned with the movements of small green pieces of paper, which is odd because on the whole it wasn’t the small green pieces of paper that were unhappy.” In this excerpt, the author starts off by using derision and humor to communicate his negative opinion on the subject. Then he goes on satirizing the weakness and flaws of humans such as greed, pessimism and insatiability and condemns the society of being mammonnish and rapacious.
Latter in the novel, as explained before, Arthur is worried about his house being destroyed for the construction of a bypass. However, this problem becomes unimportant when the entire Earth is destroyed for much the same reason. Many of the situations mirror event on Earth, but are exaggerated for comedic effect. The destruction of an entire planet is seen by Vogons as unimportant; on a galactic scale, planets and races are destroyed every day. That’s why Arthur’s concern is mocked and ignored. With these two satiristic scenarios, Adams was able to show the absurdity in everyday life and how constant worry over small issues is counter-productive.
Overall, the use of satire ruthlessly exposes the absurdity of modern existence, particularly the bureaucracy and self-importance of humankind. It really shows how thing that we consider of great importance are actually insignificant in the larger scheme of things. This is what makes his writing style humorous and absurd.
Plot Summary of the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy
The story begins with our protagonist, Arthur Dent, having a normal morning in his house, though it is interrupted by a bulldozer standing outside his house, waiting to demolish it to build a bypass. Promptly, Arthur decides to lie in front of the bulldozer. Ford Prefect, Arthur’s good friend (who is actually an alien), stops by telling Arthur that he must come to the pub with him. Arthur says that he can’t let the man in charge, Mr. L. Prosser, destroy his home, which Mr. Prosser says was planned for nine months, but Arthur didn’t know about it (which ends up being horribly ironic later). Ford somehow convinces Mr. Prosser to lie in front of the bulldozer for Arthur. Ford says to Arthur that it wouldn’t really matter if his house was destroyed or not, because the world was going to end in twelve minutes. Arthur hears his house being knocked down and runs straight to the site from the pub. Ford knew where his towel is.
The Earth is then promptly destroyed by the Vogons to build an intergalactic highway, which the entire Earth didn’t know, but was posted in Alpha Centauri. Ford and Arthur hitchhike on one of the ships. Ford places an odd looking fish in Arthur’s ear, which begins to translate everything he heard into English. They are then captured by a Vogon, who takes them to see Prostetnic Vogon Jeltz, who is in charge of this operation. Prostetnic Vogon Jeltz read them some of his poetry (to which, Vogon poetry is third worse in the entire universe). Then threw them out into space.
They are then picked up by accident due to the infinite improbability drive, which essentially just zaps you everywhere at once until you meet your destination. On the ship they find Zaphod Beeblebrox, former President of the Imperial Galactic Government and who Arthur met at a party once; Trillian, who Arthur met at the same party; and Marvin, a legitimate depressed robot, who is extremely intelligent.
They then go on the search for Magrathea, a supposed legend which turns out to actually be real. Magrathea used to be the richest, built planet in the entire universe, before it passed from memory into false-fiction. The group goes down onto the planet, to which Arthur and Marvin stays on the surface while Zaphod, Trillian, and Ford go underground in search of riches, to attempt to restore the galaxy to its former glory.
Arthur goes on a walk only to run into Slartibartfast, a Magrathean. Slartibartfast takes Arthur on his aircar. Slartibartfast begins telling Arthur the story of how Earth has “formed a matrix of an organic computer running a ten-million research program.” The story is this: the Magratheans built an incredibly knowledgeable computer, Deep Thought, and when they turned it on, they decided to ask it for the answer to life, the universe and everything. Deep Thought responds with saying that it’ll need to think on it… for seven and a half million years. Fast forward those seven and a half million years, Deep Thought has an answer; forty-two. The people are furious, though Deep Thought says that they didn’t specify enough, and so, the Magratheans ask for The Ultimate Question. Deep Thought says that it can’t provide The Ultimate Question, but the computer the Magratheans will ask him to build in the future, will be able to provide The Ultimate Question. It gives the name of the future computer; Earth.
Arthur meets up with Ford, Zaphod, and Trillian, who are with the hosts, who are mice (who were the first most intelligent life forms on Earth). The mice figure, that since the Earth holds the Ultimate Question, Arthur must have it. Arthur is about to have his head cut open, with Trillian not able to help him; Ford and Zaphod are about to be attacked by several goons, all of whom are larger than them, when, luckily, all of the alarms on Magrathea suddenly go off. Cops suddenly come to collect Zaphod, as he was and still is currently on the run because he stole the Heart of Gold, for a reason that he actually erased from his mind. The Heart of Gold is a prototype ship with the infinite improbability drive. The cops are shooting at the group, when suddenly, the cops’ life-support systems blew up. Arthur finds Slartibartfast’s aircar to the Heart of Gold and the Blagulon Kappa policecraft, where they find Marvin, who apparently plugged himself into the ship’s external computer feed and talked the ship about it’s view of the universe, to which, the ship committed suicide.
After traveling a few light years away and the Horsehead Nebula, where Magrathea is resided, Arthur is flipping through Ford’s copy of the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, he lands on a page about Galactic Civilizations going through three different phases; the survival, or otherwise known as how; inquiry, or why; and sophistication, or where. Zaphod asks Arthur if he’s feeling hungry, to which Arthur replies with yes, and Zaphod says that they’ll stop at the Restaurant at the End of the Universe.
Relatability in the Hitchhiker’s Guide to Galaxy by Douglas Adams
There has been a big growth in the importance and the presence of entertainment in our daily life and of course with such large demand there has also been a large supply of content ranging from books, to movies, comic books and a plethora of others. Sci-fi (or science fiction) is one of the genres that had the biggest growth this century, amassing many fans and avid researches of the genre, exploring many different subjects, from wars, space exploration, plain survival and even the detective genre. With one of its core features being high tech computers, advanced science and many fantastical scientific explanations with no basis in real life, it is able to capture the interest of many different people as a fantasy space, a place in which real life doesn’t matter and the events of that world are all that is of importance at the moment.
A very common theme explored in sci-fi ironically enough has nothing to do with science but with sociology, so much that a paper was published discussing the use of science fiction as an introduction to sociology and critical thinking. The paper focuses on how being able to think of real ‘fictional’ problems the student may be able to develop a more skeptical questioning stance then on real life because they are seeing the problem from a different point of view then of their personal bias towards their own society and status quo.
It is fairly easy to notice that most science fiction plot are leaded by some sort of social questioning, be it in the famous franchise Star Wars (1977) or in this case The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy series by Douglas Adams. He was one of the most influential science fiction writers of the past few decades, inspiring many even after his death with his book series, that made various satirical remarks and questions towards our society, morals and values. What really makes his work interesting and perhaps why it has impacted so many people, is his ability to talk not only about society’s struggles, but also about one’s struggles towards existence, anxiety and fears that lurk deep inside our consciousness, resonating with many people even today.
On one of the first lines of the book we are met with the statement that human population were unhappy and trying to solve it by circulating “[…] small green pieces of paper, which is odd because on the whole it wasn’t the small green pieces of paper that were unhappy.” In the book Adams trivializes and satirizes big problems using absurdity and humour. At the start of the book the Earth is exploded and Arthur Dent, the main character, is the only human able to escape alive the total destruction of the planet by hitchhiking on a spaceship along with an alien friend of his. During this escape sequence, before the Earth is exploded the Vogons (alien race) explain that it’s not their fault and people shouldn’t complain, for the planet was being demolished to make way for an intergalactic highway and papers for the construction had been available for a long time asking for the planet to move away to somewhere else before it gets exploded. The way an impactful event such as the planet exploded is explained by a bureaucracy filled process to build a highway creates two distinct feelings on the reader, one of them being the humour projected in such an absurd scenario being diminished to paperwork and the other being a sense of dread that the same thing might as well be happening in a smaller scale on our on planet right now and corporations will do whatever it is that they are being paid to do and have the ‘legal’ paperwork to.
Following these events, Arthur Dent embarks on a myriad of different aventures through many planets and galaxies, each being more absurd than the last. But as we, readers are experiencing Arthurs point of view much of the time, we are also led to feel his anxiety and extreme fear during the entire series. While many of the other characters are mainly focused on the politics or the inner workings of whatever lies ahead, Arthur is usually only thinking about how not to do anything to change the state of things, because of the initial shock of losing his home planet, he avoids any and all possible situations, usually reverting back to his main scapegoat that is thinking about having a nice cup of tea. His anxiety comes from the opening of possibilities that happened to his life and the fear of what doing or not doing any of them might affect his life even more.(
On a certain occasion after learning that the Earth was actually a giant bio-computer that was being used to calculate the ultimate question to life, the universe and everything, Arthur explains he always had the feeling that he was part of something greater, that life was always missing a piece, thinking to finally understand what that feeling was, only to be corrected by the planet’s manufacturer that it is perfectly fine paranoia and every thinking life form in the universe has the same feeling, as to why the Earth was built in the first place. Leading us on a rollercoaster of emotions from the feeling that an answer was found to very rapidly learning that this feeling is not exclusive to us and that everyone was just as vulnerable and unable to do anything to change it. One of humanity’s common fear towards alien species is that we are somehow inferior to them and could easily by dominated or invaded easily if they wanted to, completely overpowering us. This happens on a scene where Zaphod (the captain of the ship) entertains the idea of replacing Arthur’s brain with an electronic one. “’Yeah,’ said Zaphod with a sudden evil grin, ‘you’d just have to program it to say What? And I don’t understand and Where’s the tea? – who’d know the difference?’”. Arthur at this point had already been demeaned many times during the trip, is barely shaken by the statement that humans are considered as simple as building machines. On another part of the book Arthur gets really offended that the Earth’s description in the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy reads only ‘Mostly harmless’, feeling small and diminished that his whole planet, culture and millions of years of evolution had been reduced to just two simple words. Showing in fact how much we derive the notion of worth or importance by the approval of others, Arthur is pretty shaken by that statement, feeling once again small and insignificant to the scope of the universe. As Adams wrote once, the idea to the Hitchhiker’s guide to the galaxy came from a trip he did to Paris on his own, carrying only an exemplar of the hitchhiker’s guide to Paris. He suffered a lot from outdated informations and noticed that it was only the point of view of one person’s experience about the place, and no one could really experience and know everything, thus being a fairly shallow representation of what the place has to offer this is really clear in the mostly harmless description of Earth.
Not only does the book plays around with our anxieties and fears, it also poses some questions about our moral values, how we were brought up to think about things and the status quo of the life we perceive around us. Arthur and his friend are at a restaurant in space, when they are posed the question if they would like to meet the dish of the day, quite rapidly followed by the entrance of a large talking bovine specie, gladly offering parts of his body along with meal suggestions. Arthur is taken aback by the whole situation, feeling uneasy to eat a living being that could talk to him as an equal and wanted to be eaten, he then orders a green salad, to which the large bovine disagrees. After explaining that many vegetable species have raised concerns against being eaten, his species was developed so it could state his desire to be eaten clearly and so no one would feel bad, before leaving to shoot himself the bovine makes a snarky remark of being very humane to Arthur. Here Arthur gets caught in a complex situation, his values basically dictate that we shouldn’t eat those that we consider equal, but when faced to the fact that he would rather eat living things that he couldn’t understand and didn’t want to be eaten, then eating the one who clearly could state so, Arthur panics and decides it’s better not to think of it, asking only for a water. At that moment Arthur decides not to perturb his perception of the status quo of how food is supposed to work, even after being presented with the whole situation he prefers not to think of it, shielding himself from the anxiety that comes with this new knowledge and the impact it would have on his life.
Zaphod’s character also makes the reader question free will and what it means to take a decision. As the story progresses he learns that his memories have been erased by someone and later learns that someone is himself. Not knowing why he did it to himself, he is in a constant state of doubt, in which whenever he takes any decision he doesn’t know if he really wants that or if that was an idea implanted in him by his earlier self before the mind operation, making him question his own will and how much of it was in his control and what wasn’t. Using absurdism again, Adams is able to infer the idea that some of our actions are not in our complete control, but in the control of another part of the self, like impulse actions or thoughts that can’t be explained, they feel almost foreign, but they are coming from inside ourselves, a metaphor for our subconscious and the constant struggle for the conscious mind to understand what is it that the deeper layers of our consciousness are trying to tell us. Another example of this can be found on another one of Adam’s work called Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency(1987) where after being hypnotized by Dirk Gently, Richard question his own free will on the night he climbed into his girlfriend window by impulse, only later to learn he was being possessed by a ghost, that was using him to send a message. This lack of understanding and consequently fear of the subconscious is present in all of his works, it resonated with people when the books launched and it still resonates to this day, debatably even more, now with so much more access to information thanks to the internet and widespread media, people are more aware now then never about the inner workings of the mind, or better, how much we still don’t know about those inner workings. As a society we had a great increase in therapists and psychologists and even more so of people seeking those professionals for help, this is deeply related to this fear of not understanding how our own mind works, because if we are our mind and we don’t even understand it, what do we understand. So we as a society try to find those answers as to try and stop having fear. Just like in the end, the Earth, the bio computer supposed to give us the ultimate question, was destroyed by very rich therapists which basically ruled the universe, for the only thing technology could never figure out was the existential void inside every living being, giving them the most lucrative business in the universe, which is an absurdist representation of a form of control, exposing how much we are controlled by the fear of the unknown, and how much we are willing to pay to make it go away.
Adams’s books are great fantastical adventures with really engaging and entertaining plots and writing style, but where he shines the greatest is his ability to evoke feelings of anxiety and doubt out of the reader but without making it a negative experience. His works sometimes act as mirrors to problems and questions about our society and just as well as it is a mirror to ourselves as people, he exposes some of humanity’s biggest fears and doubts without overwhelming the reader or losing the humour at any point, using of clever plays of absurdist situations and even more absurd explanations, to break our expectations and surprise us. The combined experience of having these big questions imposed on us with the complete unsuspected turn that Adams takes us, makes for a really memorable situation in which you can go back and ponder upon, heavily increasing the effectiveness of his message. His work makes the reader feel at home with the story, because even with such incredible out of this world plots, the fundamental doubts and feelings of the characters are all so human like to their core, usually exposing the most primal emotions and instincts of living creatures in such humorous manner that it makes the reader able to laugh at these big demons and process them better.
Corruption and Control Within the One-State: An Attempt to Eliminate Happiness to Maintain Power
In Zamyatin’s We, the One-State society is structured to eliminate all aspects of life that may contribute to negativity. A totalitarian government controlled by the Benefactor sets up a world in which people – referred to by numbers – do not have to make choices. The numbers experience a completely regimented lifestyle designed to eliminate error, mistakes, and uncertainty. All aspects of society are regulated to ensure there is no pain, envy, or confusion when one follows the mandated laws. From this perspective, in all respects civilization should be at its pinnacle. Then why then does the civilization D-503 describes appear to be more of a dystopia? As D-503’s journal records progress, it becomes apparent that many numbers are unable to conform completely to the One-State, as the individual experiences aspects of life the government is unable to regulate. The claim that civilization is at its pinnacle proves false as analyses of the One-State government reveal underlying motivations that aim to prevent happiness rather than maintain it. Furthermore, love and emotions –which the government aims to suppress – are unavoidable and ultimately necessary for the potential to experience actual happiness over simple contentment.
D-503 describes “unfreedom” to be an important aspect of the One-State. In his world, number’s daily lives are, for the most part, out of their control. Each number must obey all laws that control their exact schedules from their occupations and exercises, to mealtimes. Also, Guardians follow the numbers to ensure the laws of unfreedom are obeyed. Originally, D-503 views unfreedom as a necessary part of life, an improvement to the old ways of the “ancients”, which utilized choices (61). He explains that without freedom there is no possibility to make the wrong decision, and therefore nothing can go wrong. As of the start to his records, D-503 has only lived abiding by the mandated laws of the Benefactor, and accordingly he is unaware of life with the ability to make decisions. This ignorance perhaps illustrates why the totalitarian government enacts the unfreedom policies in the first place. While numbers could not harm their lives in a regulated society, when one loses the freedom to make choices they also lose the ability to desire more, better in life. The One-State wants complete control, and in order to remain in power, it is essential that the numbers live in contentment, without the potential to desire more out of life than that which is offered by the State. Accordingly, it is important to acknowledge this corrupted mentality of the government to be a major defect of civilization.
Although D-503 originally agrees with the policies of unfreedom, after meeting I-330 he begins to question such ideas. I-330 is another number that proved to fascinate D-503. She is pretty, promiscuous, deviant, and in many aspects a representation of what the One-State is against. At first, D-503 is confused and aggravated by her actions that challenge core values of the One-State. As he witnesses her drink and smoke illegally, D-503 warns, “everyone who poisons himself with nicotine, and especially alcohol, is ruthlessly destroyed by the One-State” (55). Often, such disobedience from the One-State frustrates D-503; he hates her for making him stray from the strict lifestyle of unfreedom and conformity. Still, as the journal records progress D-503 falls in love with I-330 and their relationship allows him to explore ideas of freedom of which he was previously unaware. Whereas he originally thinks life had held happiness, one may argue it was not until after spending time with I-330, full of excitement and uncertainty, that D-503 realizes that the past years had held merely satisfaction.
In a way, the struggle D-503 encounters between loyalty to the state versus rebellion, parallels the conflict of Adam and Eve’s struggle of good versus evil. D-503 describes the choice of these biblical figures to be “happiness without freedom, or freedom without happiness” (61). As he is taught of the negative consequences this choice ensues, D-503 reasons that eliminating freedom thwarts harmful results. Nevertheless, life with I-330 and introduction to the Memphi group, a secret subculture of numbers who organize rebellion, allow him to appreciate and desire freedom. To a certain extent, D-503’s choice to join the Memphi rebellion parallels that of Adam and Eve’s choice to choose evil, but moreover the choice towards freedom despite negative consequences. D-503 notes the joy in self-determination and explains, “I was I, a separate entity, a world. I had ceased to be a component, as I had been, and become a unit” (157). Perhaps a turning point for D-503, he identifies with independence. This change D-503 experiences illustrates how the corruptive and suppressive government had been restrictive to prevent the joy that comes with freedom.
In addition to unfreedom, D-503 describes another crucial component to the One-State to be the elimination of love. According to D-503, the “Great Two Hundred Years War” was able to conquer love so that it was “subjugated, i.e., organized and reduced to mathematical order” (21). The One-State decides to regulate love by controlling sex between the numbers. There are designated days and times for numbers to have sex, and pink coupons are required to receive privacy. To further simplify relations, any number is allowed to apply to have sex with whomever they like. The purpose behind maintaining complete control over sex is that with an organized system put into place, there is no room for envy or any other deep feelings, including love. At first, the side of D-503 that needs everything to be rationalized and explainable appreciates the system’s ability to control sex and prevent any confusing feelings. At first glance, one may believe such order does control emotions within society. However, most characters D-503 mentions do experience feelings in some way. The triangle between D-503, R-13 and O-90 (the female of the group) illustrates conflict that arose between these numbers, assigned to each other for many years. D-503 and O-90 are allowed to have sex with each other, as is R-13 and O-90. This connection allows D-503 and R-13 to become close friends, but the companionship ends when I-330 comes up in conversation and R-13 becomes jealous of her relationship with D-503.
Also of significance is O-90’s relationship with D-503. At first D-503 is content with their scheduled time together, however after becoming involved with I-330, he loses interested in O-90 and no longer wishes to have sex with her. O-90 soon learns of the new number that disrupted their triangle, and is devastated, as a letter later reveals that she has been in love with D-503 all along. Meanwhile, D-503’s love for I-330 causes him to develop a soul, which is recognized in the One-State to be a serious disease as it contradicts the rational foundations of society. Given the intense feelings of these characters, one must question why such emotions remain when the One-State government has created a strictly regulated system to prevent their existence. How does a society that controls every aspect of ones personnel life, down to scheduled sex days, fail to control the emotional side as well?
While every attempt possible is made to eliminate love and other deep feelings, the mindset of the One-State is flawed. Perhaps a critical error exists in that the government seems to equivocate sex and love too closely. While there is no doubt a relation between the two, the physical act of sex and the emotional feelings of love are not one in the same. It is not possible to control one through regulation of the other, which is essentially what the One-State believes can be done. The idea is that it would be possible to control deep feelings such as love, pain, and envy through control over the physical act of sex, but this did not prove to prevent emotions, as seen through the lives of D-503 and the other numbers. Ultimately, although it is stated that the War conquered love, this proves unachievable.
Accordingly, an even greater problem remains in that the numbers experience love and emotions, but are unable to express them given the laws as well as the One-State’s equivalence of a soul to illness. For once D-503 realizes there is greater happiness through love and rebellion with I-330, much of him questions the One-States policies. This perhaps lends itself to further hidden motivations of the government to defeat love. Although declared as a method to prevent envy and other negative feelings, a possible underlying function exists that aims to prevent the possibility for numbers to find happiness in love, thus causing them to discover love most important and the main focus in life. The purpose in life may shift from obeying laws that force contentment, to developing love that would provide a deeper sense of happiness, as was the case with D-503. Evident in the records, it is not possible to maintain control over emotions as deep as love, or even jealousy. While the One-States foundations aim to suppress these aspects, most would deem a world built on these principles closer to a nightmare than a utopian dream. It does not prove possible to conform completely to the laws and lifestyles enforced, however for those who live in the One-State no other option is presented, thus making life even more difficult.
Through the progression of journal records, it becomes apparent the One-State society is not civilization at its pinnacle, but rather at its worst. The government controls society to eliminate freedom and feelings such as love, which D-503 originally expresses as essential for the guarantee of complete happiness. In reality however, the government focus is not to ensure happiness, but instead maintain a content, mechanized population incapable of true emotions. The thoroughly programmed basis of society creates a system that focuses on laws to maintain order, but fail to take into account human nature and the distinction between physical acts that can be regimented through schedules, with feelings that cannot be controlled. Through this structure, the totalitarian government is able to stay in power as those in society fail to identify actual happiness when simple satisfaction is all they experience, thus ensuring a sense of contentment towards the government with no need for change. A civilization designed to repress happiness and love is not only flawed and ineffective, but also based upon foundations of corruption and suppression, which ultimately represents a dystopian world most would deem horrific in nature.
Effects of Conformity on the Individual and the Society
Robert Anthony once said, “The opposite of bravery is not cowardice but conformity”. Zamyatin’s We depicts the advantages and disadvantages of conforming to a small group of people, an authoritative society in general, and to the extreme totalitarian society of OneState. Through the heroic actions of I-330, Zamyatin clearly indicates that it is more admirable and beneficial to fight for change in a totalitarian government than to ignorantly live in oppression like D-503.
Although Zamyatin undeniably depicts a totalitarian society in a negative light, there are advantages that can be inferred from conforming and obeying authoritarian rule. On a small scale, assimilating into a group of people allows one to feel more connected with his fellow man. This can be seen in the way D-503 experiences great joy and satisfaction from joining the laborers building the Integral: “I descended and mingled with them, fused with their mass, caught in the rhythm of steel and glass…I was floating over a mirror sea” (79). Complying with the majority is simply easier, and at times more natural and gratifying, than ostracizing oneself and attempting to fight the accepted societal norm. For example, when D-503 breaks the law by skipping work and then lying about his absence to his co-worker, he feels great guilt and shame. He condemns himself and realizes that he will never again be able to feel at ease with his co-workers, which causes him great pain, and he reflects: “I, corrupted man, a criminal, was out of place here. No, I shall probably never again be able to fuse myself into this mechanical rhythm, not float over this mirror-like sea. I am to burn eternally from now on, running from place to place, seeking a nook where I may hide my eyes” (80). It is obvious from this passage that D-503 derives much pleasure from his conformity and unity with the laborers, and that he regrets ostracizing himself from the group.
On a larger scale, conforming to an authoritarian society guarantees one’s safety and possible advancement in the social hierarchy. To elaborate, authoritarian societies often have government forces such as the secret police (represented by the bureau of guardians in “We”) that monitor possible uprisings and acts of treason. Complying with authoritarian rule means not having to worry about being persecuted by the state or in extreme cases, executed. Also, the more an individual adheres to the authority of tyrannical societies, the higher chance he has for advancing in the social hierarchy. For instance, the guardians of OneState are responsible for upholding the strict laws of the government and for this reason they are granted more authority and power.
In the extreme totalitarian society of OneState, conforming to the authority comes with a lot of benefits. By being part of this society and contributing to it, citizens have access to an ever-present source of food and shelter, since OneState has a “radically transformed social system that has established a stable and secure world order for the general population” (Hatchings 87). In addition, the citizens of OneState are protected from most crimes and are even allotted time for all basic human needs, such as eating, sleeping, socializing and having sex. The citizens are brainwashed into believing that they live in a state of paradise and that all other lifestyles are absurd. This brainwashing can be viewed as a benefit because these citizens live care-free lives and are completely oblivious to the true horror of their oppressive circumstances. For D-503 any other life seems implausible, as he writes, “One thing has always seemed to me most improbable: how could a government, even a primitive government, permit people to live without anything like our Tables-without compulsory walks, without precise regulation of the time to eat…such a life was actually wholesale murder” (14). For these citizens, their imposed ignorance is bliss.
Along with the benefits of conforming and of submitting to authoritarian rule, there are also, of course, a great many disadvantages. On a small scale, conforming to a group often means sacrificing your sense of individuality and becoming indistinguishable from the crowd. An extreme example of this is the daily, identical routine of every individual in OneState, during which every citizen is an identical copy of another. In his diary, D-503 writes, “Every morning…at the same hour, at the same minute, we wake up, millions of us at once. At the very same hour, millions like one, we begin our work, and millions like one, we finish it” (13). There is no opportunity to be spontaneous or distinguish oneself during these routines.
In a totalitarian society, submitting to authoritarian rule means giving up the freedom of speech and the right to privacy. In We this can be seen in the character of R-13, a writer who has no choice but to compose works glorifying the actions of the State, even though he does not support those actions. For instance, when D-503 compliments R-13 on the poem that he wrote for an execution, R-13 exclaims, “I am dead sick of it. Everybody keeps on: “The death sentence, the death sentence!” I want to hear no more of it!” (59). R-13 is frustrated by the fact that he has no choice but to promote support for the Benefactor and the State, even though he opposes both. This practice of stifling one’s own opinion and instead creating propaganda for the autocracy is common in most totalitarian societies. Apart from extreme censorship, the government of dictatorial societies often invades the privacy of its citizens as well. Such violations of privacy generally include going through someone’s mail, financial records, medical documents, as well as random property searches and more. In We, a more extreme invasion of privacy is enforced by subjecting the citizens to a life in a city of glass, so that most actions are visible and “beneath the eyes of everyone” in the city, especially those of the guardians (19).
In the extreme case of OneState, “that is governed by its despotic and malevolent Benefactor,” submitting to the tyrannical rule of the Benefactor and the dictatorial laws of the state in general leads to the loss of most of the citizens’ rights, imagination, and independence (Hutchings 85). As mentioned before, the rights of the citizens of OneState are nonexistent. They cannot speak, write, or act in any way other than how the law explicitly permits them to.The OneState in We is so oppressive that it even manages to place restrictions on thoughts and imagination, classifying dreams as “a symptom of disease” (62). Moreover, “The imagination, or ‘fantasy’ which is considered to be the ‘last barricade on our way to happiness’ in OneState, is something which needs to be ‘cut out or extirpated’…for this process ‘nothing but surgery’ will do” (Burns 76). This surgery is referred to as the “Great Operation,” and it is forced upon all of the citizens towards the end of the book. Lastly, the citizens of OneState are also robbed of their independence. This is evident in the way that they are kept imprisoned by the State inside the “eternal glass… [of] the Green Wall” (5). These citizens are forced to be completely dependent upon OneState and are unaware of the fact that life is possible outside of the Green Wall.
The choice of whether or not to conform and yield to the authority can be a difficult one to make, and the impact of each decision varies, as can be seen by studying D-503 and I-330. D-503 ultimately chooses to conform to OneState, sacrificing his past memories and leading a robotic life that is completely devoid of any emotion. This decision comes as no surprise, however, since D-503 suffers great anxiety over his lawbreaking and scheming actions with I-330 throughout the entire novel. This can be seen in the way that he is constantly tempted to turn himself into the Bureau of Guardians. The strongest reason for D-503’s resolution to relent to OneState is his realization that I-330 has betrayed him and is simply using him. Without I-330, D-503 has little motivation to resist the Benefactor or keep to I-330’s cause. He succumbs to OneState and undergoes the “Great Operation”, after which he appears “before the Benefactor and [tells] him everything known to [him] about the enemies of happiness” (217). By choosing to surrender to the Benefactor, D-503 makes the conscious decision that for him, it is more important to forget his past with I-330 than to continue trying to introduce freedom into OneState. As a result of this decision, D-503 regresses back to his former state of ignorance and bliss, and continues on to lead an insignificant, empty life.
On the other hand, I-330 “rejects everything that the OneState stands for” and refuses to surrender to the demands of the Benefactor, proving that she is the true hero of the novel and the character whose actions should be praised and followed (Burns 82). From beginning to the very end, I-330 strives to free the citizens of OneState from oppression. Even when she is continuously tortured in the Gas Chamber, she still “does not utter a word” about her mission or her followers (218). Her actions, unlike those of D-503, have a lasting impact on OneState. This is evident in the several changes that take place after her rebellion. First, the Machine used to execute criminals with its “electric ray” is obliterated, as the narrator writes: “the disorderly fragments of the Machine, which was once perfect and great, fell down in all directions” (204). In addition, the Green Wall is destroyed, letting in life from outside the wall, such as birds, which “filled the sky with their sharp, black, descending triangles” (204). Lastly, citizens began to speak out against the State, hanging banners that read “Down with the machine! Down with the Operation!”(192). Through her relentlessness and refusal to give into the Benefactor, I-330 is able to seriously undermine the authority of OneState, provide hope for change and improvement, and convince other citizens of OneState to carry on her legacy.
We allows readers to make a variety of interpretations about conformity, ranging from small to larger scales. The novel describes the conflicts individuals may face when debating whether or not to conform and obey an autocratic ruler. However, the novel ultimately points out that only those who are brave and strong enough to fight against conformity and oppression, such as I-330, have a chance at a better life, and the possibility of instilling a positive change in the society.
Pleased at others discomfort and woes
Edward Bellamy, in his novel Looking Backward, delineates a futuristic utopia set in the twentieth century in which humanity lives in a much more collaborative and unified manner. No longer do such concepts as currency or laws exist, while the motivation to pilfer or deceive has simply dissolved. The general public, as opposed to private institutions, now possesses control over the capital, holding it as a collective entity. Furthermore, militaristic armies have dissipated, and in place a cohesive labor force, which Bellamy refers to as the “industrial army,” has risen (118). However, even with such radical and disparate changes, Bellamy is careful to maintain and construct certain connections to the nineteenth century, which is manifested particularly through the character portrayal of Julian West and Edith Leete, so that this utopia he has erected will not be one that seems totally ethereal and inconceivable to his audience.
Foremost, Bellamy’s decision to utilize Julian West as the narrator, who, originally from the nineteenth century, mysteriously wakes up to find himself in the twentieth century, proves to be a very apt one. Julian plays a very critical role throughout the novel, because he serves as the primary conceptual link between the gaping disparities in lifestyles between the two societies. Bellamy was cognizant that his audience during the publication of his novel would comprise middle to upper class members, and thus what better narrator was there than one who “…was rich and also educated, and possessed, therefore, all the elements of happiness enjoyed by the most fortunate of that age” (Bellamy, 47)? By employing a narrator holding a socioeconomic position in society similar to that of the majority of the audience, Bellamy affords his readers something to grasp onto and relate to as they, just like Julian, are immersed in a society that is marked by extreme changes.
Furthermore, Julian is portrayed as a very curious, critical, and often times defensive person, which further mirrors the attitude of the audience. For example, after Dr. Leete makes a remark concerning the increasing of prices for costly articles, Julian questions how this process could possibly hold when competition between buyers and sellers is nonexistent (Bellamy, 153). Such a question is exactly what the audience would ask, as they are used to this concept of competition as the driving force in society that leads to greater efficiency and production. In addition, Julian often times becomes defensive about his own society, such as when he states, “…our industrial system was ethically very bad, but as a mere wealth making machine, apart from moral aspects, it seemed to us admirable” (179). The audience would naturally be prone to defend their own society, and thus when Julian takes on these defensive tones, the audience better relates to him. In essence, the readers’ thoughts are materialized through the actions and words of Julian throughout the book, which ultimately allows the audience to better understand this perplexing and novel society.
Edith Leete, although in a different manner, accomplishes a similar feat in that she also provides a bridge from the utopian society to that of the audience. Kenneth Roemer, in his essay “Literary Domestication of Utopia,” analyzes the role Edith plays to ingratiate the readers of the nineteenth century. Roemer refers to how Edith is characterized as still retaining those characteristics and interests thought to be held prominently by women, such as shopping and particular concern for the style of clothing. He even points to her episodes of crying as manifestations of typical feministic qualities. Furthermore, Roemer takes note of Edith’s sympathetic and nurturing personality, as she supports Julian, and therefore the audience, as Julian delves into a state of consternation at the thought of how his life has so quickly been transformed upon entering into a totally different society (110-111). With this character portrayal of Edith, Bellamy is able to maintain the longstanding and conventional qualities that separate the genders, which further allows the audience to hold on to something familiar to their own society.
Ultimately, the way that Julian and Edith are portrayed, concerning aspects such as socioeconomic background and feministic qualities, is very effective as it allows the audience to construct connections to this distant, esoteric society. These connections between the society that the writer lives in and the one that is portrayed through his or her writing are not incidental or limited to Bellamy, but rather very necessary and pervasive among utopists. The utopists realize that they need some form of linkage between the differing societies so that the readers do not tumble into a pit of confusion when attempting to decipher the ways of a radically incongruent society, and Bellamy considers exactly this tactic when writing his novel (Roemer, “Utopia and Victorian Culture,” 315).