Societies’ Effect On Identity In Gattaca And The Crucible
Similarities between the futuristic society Andrew Niccol presented within Gattaca and Arthur Miller’s historical society displayed in The Crucible can be identified. The scientific film Gattaca presents a dystopian society where valids are extremely superior to the invalids due to the advancements within reproductive technology. The theocratic society exhibited within The Crucible highlights the thriving social hysteria which occurred because of the Salem witch trial during 1692. The unique societies both demonstrate discrimination towards an individual due to the belief and attitudes of the society, this consequently generates the theme of individuality versus society to emerge. Through depriving both male and females of their true identity Gattaca and The Crucible has forced the constructed of a better representation of individuals to establish the perfect society.
Gattaca and the Crucible both present controversial societies which specifically attacks the male’s identity to gain the perfect society. Vincent Freeman and John Proctor both endured the hardship of hiding their true identity from their respected societies. The play The Crucible is set within the year 1692, during this period men were stereotyped as masculine and able to hold their authority over a woman. However, when accused of witchcraft and being seen with the devil the masculine appearance was demolished. Therefore, when Marry Warren indicated that John Proctor was seen with the devil his masculine identity disintegrated, consequently, he became determined to keep his identity clean by stating “how may I live without my name? I have given my soul I leave me my name.” Due to this accusation, John Proctor strayed away from the social normality that males were expected to upkeep demolishing his social image within society which consequently, produced an upheaval within society and caused for discrimination against Proctor due to the change in the social normality. Gattaca’s society demonstrates discrimination towards invalid individuals within society due to the superiority of valid citizens. The quote ‘the best test score wasn’t going to matter unless I had the blood test to go with it (Gattaca, 1997)” demonstrates the division that is presented between the valid and invalids. This division between the valid and invalid continues to grow due to the discriminative belief and attitudes which have been implemented within Gattaca’s society. The belief and attitudes of society are displayed when Vincent is told by his parents at an early age to be ‘realistic because the only way that he would see the inside of a spaceship, is if [he] were cleaning it.’ This quote demonstrates the difference in value society has for the invalids when compared to the valid due to the cultural beliefs and attitude forcing invalid individuals to illegally hide their identity. Overall, The Crucible and Gattaca both present societies which discriminate against the male’s true identity due to the already decided faith society has created for the individual.
Within The Crucible and Gattaca females are seen as inferior when compared to the males causing their true identity to be constantly discriminated against. Although, female characters are more frequent in The Crucible the seventeenth – century does not allow them to have any authority within society due to the cultural beliefs and attitudes. This is seen within a conversation when Marry Warren states, “it were pretence, sir [Danforth replies] I cannot hear you [then Proctor recalls] it were pretence, she says [Danforth states] ah? And the other girls.” This conversation displays that Danforth cannot hear Marry Warren because she is regarded as an insignificant female therefore, he will not listen to her, however, when Proctor a highly regarded male speaks, he can recall what he is saying. Discrimination of women is also seen when Parris and Putman threaten Tituba to confess she is using witchcraft or else they will whip her and hang her, to this threat Tituba falls to her knees and pleads they do not hurt her. This threat symbolises the authority males have over females especially, when Tituba lowers herself to the men, so it displays the men looking down on her. This situation mirrors the expected society attitudes and beliefs of male authority towards inferior females. The film Gattaca is highly male – dominated therefore, it is ironic when the only female character suffers from the risk of heart failure even though, she is valid and works within the Gattaca Institute (Gattaca, 1997). The irony is used to symbolise that the only female individual that is genetically modified to be valid stills has a similar fate to the invalid citizens. This reiterates the discrimination that the futuristic society has placed on females whether they are considered valid or invalid. Therefore, both the play and the film generate societies which discriminate females due to the beliefs and attitudes of the social normality causing the characters to hide their identity.
The Crucible and Gattaca have cultural conventions which aid in the discrimination against individuals, both male and female which consequently forces them to hide their true identity. The Crucible has developed a theocratic puritanism society, this means the church and the state are regarded as one. Therefore, when the accusations of witchcraft began within Salem Danforth stated, “you must understand, sir that a person is either with this court or he must be counted against it, there be no road between. This is a sharp time … we live no longer in the dusky afternoon when the evil mixed itself with good … now by God’s grace, the shining sun is up, and them that fear not light will surely praise it.” in this quote Danforth explains the attitude that the authorities of Salem have in regards to the witchcraft accusations which appeared throughout the town. Therefore, it is believed by society an individual either belongs to God or the Devil and if an individual goes against God they go against the court. This would consequently cause the individual to be discriminated against by society as they went against the beliefs and attitudes implemented by society. Within Gattaca a Christian religion is combined with advancements in medical technology, creating a society of the future. The quote, ‘I’ll never understand what possessed my mother to put her faith in God’s hands, rather than her local geneticist (Gattaca, 1997).” demonstrates the lack of humanity present within the futuristic society, as well as the new clinical and sterile approach created to start a new family. The quote also demonstrates the cultural beliefs and attitudes of society as well as explores irony as it states that society put more faith within science than God. In general, Gattaca and The Crucible both have cultural conventions in place within society which force the discrimination of individuals.
In conclusion, the play The Crucible by Arthur Miller and the film Gattaca by Andrew Niccole both display societies which are highly discriminative toward certain individuals due to the cultural conventions implemented within society which consequently causes individuals to hide their identity. Within Miller’s historical society males were discriminated when their masculine appearance was demolished due to the witch trials, females were also discriminated against due to their social status and lack of authority. Niccole’s futuristic society discriminates against males due to their genetic make which categorises them into valid or invalid individuals, females are discriminated against due to the lack of them and their limited roles in the social hierarchy. Overall, it can be said that both societies do not allow their citizens to demonstrate their true identity due to cultural conventions.
- Gattaca. 1997. [Film] Directed by Andrew Niccol. San Rafael, California: Columbia Pictures.
- Miller, A., 1953. The Crucible. United States of America: Penguin Random House UK.
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