The definition of the word “Utopia” is defined as a place or state of ideal perfection (A Dictionary of the English Language 1575). How can a society reach a point of Utopia? Although many countries have tried to achieve such a goal, they have been unable to attain a state of perfection. In 1984, written by George Orwell, government takes control of every aspect of persons life in an attempt to achieve “perfection”. In Childhoods End, written by Arthur C. Clarke, the human race is assimilated into a Supreme Being allowing humanity to enter into state of Utopia.
Did Orwell and Clarke really haracterize utopian societies? Although on the surface the two books seem to portray characteristics of Utopian societies, in reality both societies leave people without free will and individuality leading to an anti-utopian society. George Orwell creates a society, Oceania, which revolves around “Big Brother,” the name of the government in power. Big Brother controls every aspect of society including political, social, and economic activities as well as every aspect of the individual including both physical and mental behavior.
Big Brother is able to manipulate its citizens to suite its own needs. Using science and technology as well as fear and intimidation, Big Brother eliminates all forms of individualism, independent thinking, and free choice. This leaves the government with the freedom to continuously shape and reshape all thoughts and activities of its citizens. In effect, Big Brother creates a utopian society by constantly monitoring, brainwashing, and if necessary destroying its citizens. This perfect society is achieved through the principles and practices of totalitarianism.
The goal of creating a utopian society is attained by eliminating unhappiness. Big Brother uses a umber of different techniques to acquire the support of his citizens and to control their behavior and actions. By using various psychological techniques such as fear, intimidation, and brainwashing, the government is able to rid society of problems. The Thought Police, a division of the Ministry of Love, are the enforcers of society and strike fear into the minds of all the citizens of Oceania. They are the eyes and ears of Big Brother and are in control of monitoring every single person in Oceania.
Because of the number of people within Oceania, telescreens, televisions that while isplaying images also serve as surveillance cameras, serve as a way for the Thought Police to watch every movement and listen to every sound in Oceania at anytime. It was terribly dangerous to let your thoughts wander when you were in any public place or within range of a telescreen. The smallest thing could give you away. A nervous tic, an unconscious look of anxiety, a habit of muttering to yourselfto wear an improper expression on your facewas itself a punishable offense (Orwell 54).
These telescreens are located in every room, street, or alleyway and are practically impossible to avoid. The Ministry of love also uses undercover agents in order to watch people on a person to person basis. These undercover agents, in conjunction with the Thought Police, serve to regulate peoples thoughts. Their job is to find persons who have even the slightest feelings of resentment toward Big Brother and whisk he or she away in the middle of the night never to be seen again. A common elementary precaution in Oceania is to never face or be near a telescreen.
If unavoidable, it is rudimentary to wear a fake face regardless of ones current thoughts because one may never know who is watching (Orwell 54). In addition to avoiding telescreens, it is unwise to trust any fellow coworker, friend or even a family member. It is impossible to know who is a spy and who is not because undercover agents pretend to be sympathize with people unhappy with Big Brother and later report them to the government. In addition to being used as surveillance cameras, telescreens are also used to convey endless newscasts praising Big Brother.
They display statistics after statistics of how the quality of life has increased since Big Brother took control of the government. “Comrades! ” cried an eager youthful voice. “Attention, omrades! We have glorious news for you. We have won the battle for production! Returns now completed of the output of all classes of consumption goods show that the standard of living has risen by no less than twenty per cent over the past yearHere are some of the completed figures. Foodstuffs (Orwell 51)” Posters are located on every wall of every building depicting the face of Big Brother.
Public gatherings, created in order to honor Big Brother, are held every day. By ingraining these ideas into a persons mind, he or she has no choice but to follow along and conform to society. “Of coarse he chanted with he rest: it was impossible to do otherwise. To dissemble your feelings, to control your face, to do what everyone else was doing, was an instinctive reaction (Orwell 18). ” From the time of birth to the time of death, telescreens, along with posters, public events, etc. , are many of the ways Big Brother convinces its unsuspecting citizens into admiring and obeying the government.
The fear of being detected by the Thought Police and the constant images of Big Brother force the people of Oceania to conform to the ways of the government. “Family Love, human Love, is impossible in the 1984 world (Sperber 22). ” These psychological techniques rid society of problems thus creating a world without dissent, a utopia. In Arthur C. Clarkes Childhoods End, the existence of mankind is in danger due to the possibility of a full-scale nuclear war. Tensions between countries are increasing and society is about to break down.
Aliens (known as the Overlords), who are involved in a plan to assimilate humanity into a supreme being known as the Overmind, come to the rescue of humanity and create peace between humans. The Overlords work for the Overminds as an intermediary; walking numerous civilizations through he different phases of the overall plan. With the arrival of the Overlords, all signs of war immediately disappear and worldwide peace sets in. Remarkably, the Overlords do no more than present themselves to humans; they do not intervene in any way with life on earth. In the first year of their coming, the advent of the Overlords had made less difference to the pattern of human life than might have been excepted. Their shadow was everywhere, but it was an unobtrusive shadow (Clarke 26). ” They act as if they are guardian angels looking over and caring for humanity (Hollow 75). Once phase one of the project is completed, the Overlords begin phase two. They interfere with the development of all children under the age of ten by altering their human characteristics.
As time moves on, these children slowly move away from humanity and become a different species that mankind has never seen before. When phase two is completed and the children have reached a maturation state in which they are completely independent of everything, phase three, the concluding phase, takes effect and the “children” are assimilated into the Overmind losing their humanistic traits (Slusser). In a few years, it will be all over, and the human race will have divided twain. There is no way back, no future for the world you know. All the hopes and dreams of your race are ended now.
You have given birth to your successors, and its your tragedy that you will never understand them will never even be able to communicate with their mindsYou will not think them human, and you will be right (Clarke 184). Humanity no longer can exist because any children born into the world never grow up to become adults; they are incorporated into the Overmind. Without intervention, how do the Overlords prevent a uclear war from starting? In the minds of the people, the Overlords are viewed as Gods. Humanity feels a sense a comfort with the arrival of the Overlords.
By presenting themselves to human beings, the people on Earth realize that other advanced civilizations do exist and that their trivial quarrels are foolish and wasteful. A transformation occurs and society enters into a golden age. Common problems in society such as famine, poverty, and corruption vanish and peace is achieved between fellow humans. The Overlords give a sense of hope to the inhabitants of Earth that ife is worth living in its fullest. The utopia currently present on Earth is hardly the utopia the Overlords have in store for humanity.
The object of their visit to Earth is to combine mans intelligence with that of the Overmind. The Overmind is a Supreme Being comprised of a countless number of species, together forming a utopia in which there is a state of perfection. The Overlords do humanity a favor by including them into the utopian Overmind, making them one with all the others. The price paid for utopia is the extinction of man as we know him. Big Brother in 1984 and the Overmind in Childhoods End attempt to create a utopia where perfection is present.
But in the process they destroy a part of man that is a necessary part of life, individualism and free will. Although achieved in a different manner, free will is taken away from the people on Earth in Childhoods End just as it is taken away in 1984. The people are left with no choice but to conform to the ways of their superiors. In 1984, a utopian society is never really established. Although it may seem as though Big Brother achieves a state of perfection, the lack of individualism characterizes Oceania as an anti-utopian society. Their feelings of free will are suppressed under their feelings of fear. Your worst enemy, he reflected, was your own nervous system. At any moment the tension inside of you was liable to translate itself into some visible symptom [of disloyalty] (Orwell 56). ” From the day of birth, people must conform to the ways of the government in order to survive. Inhabitants are forced to wear identical outfits, eat the same food, drink the same liquor, and smoke the same cigarettes. There is no choice available to the citizens of Oceania whether it involves ones job or ones living quarters. Any ign of individualism is considered to be a “thoughtcrime” and can be punishable by death.
People are required to attend the daily activities at the community center, which involves large groups of people praising Big Brother and Oceania. Telescreens prevent people from behaving in a way other than society accepts. With these strict principles bestowed upon society, there is no room for any form of free will or individualism. Childhoods End uses far different techniques than does 1984, but is left with similar results at the end, a loss of free will and individualism. Despite the fact hat the Overlords save humanity from total destruction, it is not fair to assimilate them into the Overmind without their consent.
George Edgar Slussers view point that “the spirit of individual humanity is extended beyond its tomb (Slusser 52)” is inaccurate. Although the Overlords approach the task at hand in a more diplomatic fashion than does 1984 making the Overlords look friendly, what is unnoticeable until the end of the book is their overall goal to assimilate humanity. By incorporating the human beings into the Overmind, not only does it put an end to the human race, but it also eliminates ll the characteristics that made humanity special and unique from other forms of life in the universe.
On the surface, 1984 and Childhoods End seem like two totally different books due to the different approaches conveyed by each author. But in reality, both books attempt to create a utopian society in which perfection is achieved. Although 1984 may seem like a dark and scary nightmare and Childhoods End may seem like a beautiful dream, their common goal is the same (Meyers 192). Can man retain his individuality and free will and at the same time achieve a perfect society? Only the future holds the answer.