Dehumanization can be defined as an act of undermining the individuality of a person such as making someone feel less of a human by using false or demeaning actions. Utopia and dystopia are themes that explore the dehumanization due to the tendency of not telling the truth about ascendancy and give an illusion of a perfect society. Utopia can be explained as a state or condition that is ideally perfect in respect of laws and customs. Dystopia is a society that is characterized as an illusion of a perfect society that is maintained through an oppressive control. In most instances, people depict societal leanings as perfect based on their beliefs on a certain aspect. This bearing creates an illusion, which does not illuminate the reality. To put utopia and dystopia into perspective, the illusions regarding a perfect society in three narratives will be examined and a discussion of their failure to maintain the perception of exemplarity.
Every society has its flaws and perfections, none can have one exclusively. However, The Machine Stops introduces a kind of utopian society where everything is perfect, life is simple, and everyone is happy but in the short story, everything seems to be a little depressing. In the story, the society has been deprived of its individuality and is expected to bend low for the authorities. Getting in contact with the earth is believed to be impolite and everyone is given equipment that helps them survive. In The Machine Stops, there is a woman by the name Vashti who lives on the other side of the town from her son Kuno. The son has always questioned her, the society, and the uses of the machines handed to him (Foster). Thus, the lack of human contact enables one to understand why humans in the story are protective of the machines.
When they were born they found the machines in existence, the same way it is the nature for babies to look for their mother. It is possible that they viewed the machines as their mothers to provide comfort and protection. In the story, humans had to ask for permission to father or mother a child whom they give the machines to take care of. In human nature, one cannot ask for permission to father a child and it natural for parents to take care of the child by themselves. The flaw in this story is that the humans depended on the wrong thing despite the fact that we are dependent creatures. Thus, seeking to have machines create a perfect environment had an impact in creating a dysfunctional society with a minimal element of humanism. The flaw regarding dependency on machines which comes closer to the world I live would be the one to be fixed by promoting the embrace of humanity.
Urban spaces create a sense of happiness but in most instances, people who occupy it are usually sad because of various factors. In the short story The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas, the narrator tells about a city during a festival. The urban space is characterized by happiness and beauty because of the sea that is visible from where the dance was taking place (Le Guin). The societies seem perfect on the surface but we learn that there is a high price to pay. From the ideal of seeking perfection in urban spaces the selfishness as a human nature is drawn. However, the respect for life as a human nature is an obstacle to the embrace of the ideal because it glorifies sacrifices. In the story, the idea to create a happy and beautiful city resulted in pain for the individuals who were sacrificed to realize the perfection goals. The flaw in this narrative is the sacrifice of an innocent soul for other people’s happiness. The utopia to create an urban space full of beauty and happiness comes closer to the world I would like to live in. However, I will fix the flaw by advocating against sacrifices to achieve perfection in aesthetics.
Everyone has to be made equal using the physical and mental handicaps. This is according to the short story George Bergeron by Kurt Vonnegut. In the narrative, George Bergeron and Hazel Bergeron are watching ballerinas on the television, and because George is known to be naturally intelligent he is made to wear a mental handicap radio. The radio torments him with the sharp noises every twenty seconds so he cannot think hard (Vonnegut). The ideal of equality formed the utopia of promoting perfection in the embrace of an equal society. From the ideal, the human nature in striving to achieve uniformity in terms of distribution of resources and opportunities are drawn. However, human nature to be above others in society is an obstacle. The need to create a perfectly equal society has resulted in the oppression of intelligent individuals. The flaw in the story is the curtailment of individual abilities. The utopia to create an equal society comes close to the world I would like to live in. however, I would have to fix the instances where individuals are oppressed to achieve equality.
In the three societies, things go wrong in search for perfection. Vashti seems to be worshiping machines that we made by man and avoids sunlight and everything that is natural to the world. In Omelas city, the people are foolish because the fiction that secluding the child would have resulted in their happiness. In Harrison Bergeron, everyone is wrong to think that everyone can be equal. Essentially, the thinking capacity of human beings and the level of intelligence have to be different so that society can grow. Based on the stated flaws, I would change them to depict humanistic nature so as to create a perfect world that I would want to live in.
Foster, E.S. The Machine Stops. Hyweb Technology Co. Ltd., 2011.
Le Guin, Ursula K. The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas. Creative Education, 1993.
Vonnegut, Kurt. Harrison Bergeron. Mercury Press, 1962