“Is Utopia Possible in This World and How Are the Ideas Represented?”

Topics: Western culture, Western world, Western Europe Pages: 10 (3734 words) Published: June 10, 2008
As a result of extensive analysis of the four texts: the novel “The Giver” by Lois Lowry, the film “Gattaca” directed by Andrew Niccol, the website “Design Your Own Utopia” by Chaz Bufe with Libby Hubbard, and the newspaper article “Woman-town loses its lip gloss” by Anita Quigley, one would suggest that Utopia, (as represented by the four texts), is not possible in the modern and contemporary Western society we live in today. What comprises Utopia in “The Giver” includes: elimination of emotion, purging of colour, population control, and lack of freedom. In “Gattaca”, Utopia consists of: lack of privacy and freedom, and the use of eugenics. “Design Your Own Utopia” involves the Utopian ideas: dissolving of religion, disintegration of mental depression, and banishment of extreme criminals. Finally, the ideas of Utopia in “Woman-town loses its lip gloss” are: the undermining of the male gender, a consumerist society, and the dense building structures.

The Utopian idea of elimination of emotion, as expressed in “The Giver”, would not be possible in our current Western world. When Jonas, the protagonist, asks his surrogate parents if they love him, they are shocked and reply, “Jonas…Precision of language, please!” Jonas’ parents react in this manner because, in Utopia, all kinds of deep and intense emotions are eliminated from society by a scientific genetic process – “Sameness”, a recurring metaphor throughout the story. The use of italics portrays Jonas’ parents’ utter distress over the situation; the raise in tone of voice is their way of emphasising the importance of the issue to Jonas. Jonas’ parents also mention, “of course our community can’t function smoothly if people don’t use precise language”. The use of alliteration also helps to define the tone of voice as harsh and domineering. Furthermore, the biting alliteration creates a monotonic expression. Without such robotic language, the sentence would be disrupted, symbolic of how its absence would disrupt their community. In our world, the ability to feel and express emotions is part of our human genetic makeup, and science has not yet found or attempted to discover a procedure to eliminate them. Secondly, to rid society of emotion would mean to create one that is made up of robots. In short, this idea of Utopia would not be possible in Western society, as there is no known way of removing emotion from people.

Additionally, the Utopian idea of purging of colour in “The Giver” would not be possible in the Western world in which we live. Jonas is often found wondering why everyone wears a “colourless fabric” and why nature is a “flat and hueless shade”. The use of the ‘bland’ – sounding and closed letter ‘l’ is representative of Utopia, which could be seen as insipid, as it lacks colour – literally. The absence of colour and the importance of this theme are also evident in the front cover of ‘The Giver’. The main focus is a black and white photo of the wrinkled face of an old man, however, in one of the corners, there is a coloured photo of trees in the sunrise/sunset. Separating these two images is a picture of a line of ripped paper. The rip emphasises that colour is separate from Utopia and an unnecessary factor – symbolic of one ripping out an unwanted page from an exercise book. ‘The Giver’ replies why Utopia does not have colour, “we relinquished colour when we relinquished sunshine and did away with differences.” In Utopia, no one is able to see colour, (even as children), due to a genetically engineered intervention. In the Western world we live in today, the undertaking of this procedure would not be allowed. Certain ethics would be upheld and argued by human rights organizations, such as Civil Liberties, against such a practice. Freedom of the individual is one of the highest freedoms in today’s world, and civil rights are upheld as the most important values a human being can have. To have one’s ability to see colour taken away at childbirth would...
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