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Analysis of the Outcast in Dystopian Societies
Transcript of Analysis of the Outcast in Dystopian Societies
"A nation of warriors and fanatics, marching forward in perfect unity, all thinking the same thoughts and shouting the same slogans, perpetually working, fighting, triumphing, persecuting - three hundred million people all with the same face"
By George Orwell
Brave New World
by Alous Huxley
"The Company Man" by Ellen Goodman
"The Pedestrian" by Ray Bradbury
Brave New World
- Bernard Marx and John
Thematic Idea #2 - The outcast of dystopian societies shows behavior that is seen as unusual or proplematic
Common Themes of Dystopian Societies
A dystopian society where every movement of the individual is closely scrutinized
All citizens are expected to follow the rules of the government and unconditionally love Big Brother
Winston Smith, the protagonist, hated Big Brother and was against his teachings. He was aware of the deceptiveness of the government and actively went against it by committing adultery with Julia.
Winston was eventually caught and had to subject himself to torture. He was manipulated into loving Big Brother and betraying Julia, the only person that he truly loved.
"In the end the Party would announce that two and two made five, and you would have to believe it. It was inevitable that they should make that claim sooner or later: the logic of their position demanded it. Not merely the validity of experience, but the very existence of external reality was tacitly denied by their philosophy."'
"We control matter because we control the mind. Reality is inside the skull."
"We believe that there is some kind of conspiracy, some kind of secret organization working against the Party, and that you are involved in it. We want to join it and work for it. We are enemies of the Party. We disbelieve in the principles of INGSOC. We are thought-criminals. We are also adulterers. I tell you this because we want to put ourselves at your mercy. If you want us to incriminate ourselves in any other way, we are ready."
Thematic Idea #3 - By controlling its peoples, dystopian governments are able to manipulate its citizens as they see fit.
A society in which reproduction has been commercialized and humans are able to be mass-produced; sex is seen as a recreational activity that everyone of all ages should partake in.
People are categorized into a rigid hierarchy and preconditioned for their jobs; they take a drug called soma, a hallucinogen used to subdue citizens
Bernard stands out from the other members of the society because he does not partake in the usual activities everyone else does. He wants to be an individual and is even physically stunted; however, Bernard does show a desire to be socially relevant as the novel progressed, revealing himself to be a hypocrite.
"The mockery made him feel like an outsider; and feeling an outsider he behaved like one...which in turn increased his sense of being alien and alone."
John also rejects the principles of the World State and believes that all of their joy is shallow
"..there is always soma, delicious soma, half a gramme for a half-holiday, a gramme for a week-end, two grammes for a trip to the gorgeous East, three for a dark eternity on the moon..."
"The Pedestrian" - Leonard Mead
A futuristic dystopian society
Leonard Mead is arrested because his actions were seen as unusual. He is sent to the Psychiatric Center for Research on Regressive Tendencies after caught taking a walk outside.
Leonard is labeled as an outcast because of his nonconformity. He does not have a wife, no real job, and does not follow what everyone else is doing.
"The Company Man" - Phil
A man overworks himself to death, but his death is quickly forgotten as the boss looks for a replacement
Phil allows his job to overtake his life to the point where he does nothing else. He is an outcast because his job does not allow him to have any meaningful relationships.
How do these four stories connect?
THEMATIC IDEA #1 - Dystopian societies emphasize being part of a homogenous community rather than individuality
"Every one works for every one else. We can’t do without any one. Even Epsilons are useful. We couldn’t do without Epsilons. Every one works for every one else. We can’t do without any one. . . ."
They share common themes and characters. These four dystopian-type stories convey outcasts who are oppressed, misunderstood, or dehumanized by their government or higher authority.
"Everything went on in the tomb-like houses at night now, he thought, continuing his fancy. The tombs, ill-lit by television light, where the people sat like the dead, the grey or multi-coloured lights touching their faces, but never really touching them."
"By 5:00 P.M. the afternoon of the funeral, the company president had begun, discreetly of course, with care and taste, to make inquiries about his replacement. One of three men. He asked around: "Who's been working the hardest?"
These stories had communities which emphasized doings things for the "Greater Good of Society." The citizens of the society were not to be seen as individuals but rather as part of something greater. In fact, if the characters from these stories were seen doing something for themselves they were often punished.
By emphasizing the importance of unity within the community and the role of the individual to be able to contribute to society, the authors were able to convey this theme.
A Brave New World,
people are conditioned to fit their jobs and place on the social ladder. "Everyone works for everyone else."
, the citizens of Oceania are taught at an early age the principles of Ingsoc. They are taught to love Big Brother and follow his ways. In fact, people who think as individuals are tortured as Julia and Winston were.
In "The Pedestrian," Leonard is arrested since he is taking a walk because he
and for no other purpose. He wasn't watching TV like everyone else was.
Even in "The Company Man," once Phil dies and the funeral takes place, the Boss immediately looks for a replacement. It is obvious that Phil was only seen as an interchangeable part of a bigger machine - the company.
"Why not? Bernard's an Alpha Plus. Besides, he asked me to go to one of the Savage Reservations with him. I've always wanted to see a Savage Reservation."
"But his reputation?"
"What do I care about his reputation?"
"They say he doesn't like Obstacle Golf."
"They say, they say," mocked Lenina.
"And then he spends most of his time by himself–alone." There was horror in Fanny's voice.
'And there is air in your house, you have an air conditioner, Mr Mead?'
'And you have a viewing screen in your house to see with?'
'No?' There was a crackling quiet that in itself was an accusation.
'Are you married, Mr Mead?'
'Not married,' said the police voice behind the fiery beam.
His "dearly beloved" eldest of the "dearly beloved" children is a hard-working executive in a manufacturing firm down South. In the day and a half before the funeral, he went around the neighborhood researching his father, asking the neighbors what he was like. They were embarrassed.
The outcasts from these societies are prosecuted or face consequences because of these odd behaviors. The government or higher-authority sees this individual as disrupting the unity of the community.
The authors convey this theme by having the characters face prosecution or consequences for their behaviors.
A Brave New World
, Bernard is an outcast because everyone thinks he is unusual and does not like taking soma, preferring to be an "individual" (Bernard eventually reveals himself to be a hypocrite as he only desires social prestige).
John rejects the ideas of the World State and ends up committing suicide
, Winston and Julia are arrested by the Thought Police because of their unorthodox behavior. They are eventually tortured until they succumb to Big Brother's principles.
In "The Pedestrian," Leonard is arrested for going on a walk. The police sees this as strange behavior, even disappointingly noting that he does not have a wife. The police take him to a facility for research on "aggressive" behavior.
Although his behavior is not as extreme as seen in the other stories, in "The Company Man," Phil dies because he overworks. He estranges himself from his family and the neighbors are even embarrassed to talk about Phil.
"The car hesitated, or rather gave a faint whirring click, as if information, somewhere, was dropping card by punch-slotted card under electric eyes. 'To the Psychiatric Centre for Research on Regressive Tendencies."
The characters of these societies were controlled through various methods - in some ways explicitly and others ways more subtly
The authors convey this theme by introducing various methods used to control the characters
A Brave New World,
the citizens constantly take soma, a drug that calms and distracts them. Through soma, the government is able to control its citizens.
, the citizens are brainwashed to follow the principles of Big Brother at an early age. They must also participate in activities like Hate Week and are constantly being monitored by telescreens.
In "The Pedestrian," the police car cruises around for any unusual activity. The mention of the Psychiatric center also implies that the government has an organized method of dealing with problematic citizens.
The method of control in "The Company Man" is much more subtle. The man is seemingly working hard because he chooses to. However, it is stated that there are other people in the same position as him and people ready to succeed him. He was also one of three people who could become president. Thus, the company encourages hard work to keep up with the competition. Phil had no other choice but to work hard if he wanted to "stay in the game".
"He was, however, one of six vice-presidents, and one of three who might conceiv"ably--if the president died or retired soon enough--have moved to the top spot. Phil knew that."
Commonalities between characters
The characters from these works are all in some way outcasts of the society they live in. They stand out in some way - usually because of their unorthodox behavior or disagreement with established doctrines.
The characters are punished or face consequences because of their unusual behavior
don't fit in.
In terms of their behaviors, abnormality, not conformity, is their flaw. (GotG)
Nothing is so alienating to a human as a demanding and time-consuming job. (GotG)
"A company friend said, "I know how much you will miss him." And she answered, "I already have."
"They passed one house on one street a moment later, one house in an entire city of houses that were dark, but this one particular house had all of its electric lights brightly lit, every window a loud yellow illumination, square and warm in the cool darkness.
'That's my house,' said Leonard Mead."