A Comparison Between The Dystopian Elements Of

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A Comparison Between The Dystopian Elements Of The Matrix And 1984 Essay, Research Paper In 1949, George Orwell wrote 1984, a stunning novel envisioning haunting images of the future. Fifty years later, The Matrix, a movie directed by the Wachowski brothers, debuted on the big screen featuring mind-blowing special effects and complex kung-fu choreography. There are many obvious similarities between these two works of fiction. For example, both 1984 and The Matrix are dystopian visions of the future, which is to say, both deal with the maintenance of an imperfect society. The word dystopia is the antonym of utopia, which itself means a perfect society; therefore, a dystopia is theoretically a society of total misery and wretchedness. Despite the many similar “distopic”

elements found in these two pieces, there are still distinct differences which contribute to the variation in the overall themes of 1984 and The Matrix. Most obviously, in both 1984 and The Matrix, the protagonist is a rebel and resists the controlling power. In addition, the dystopian environments in which the protagonists dwell are similar. In both worlds, the protagonists have very few luxuries: the main meal consist of very little besides a nameless bowl of tasteless artificial slop. The only available source of alcoholic beverage is, in 1984, a “sickly, oily smell[ing]” Victory Gin, and in The Matrix, an anonymous liquid used for degreasing engines (Orwell 8). The clothing and furniture is equally unappealing, being old, ragged, and looking as if it was salvaged from a

junk yard. Moreover, not only do the protagonists have to eat unsatisfactory food, they are also unfulfilled sexually. At one point, Winston recalls his encounter with the prole prostitute, thinking about how he needed to use her services despite her elderly age because he needed an “outlet for instincts which could not be altogether suppressed”(Orwell 57). In The Matrix, the short-lived “Mouse” had to resort to going into the Construct, or a kind of virtual reality, and interacting with the virtual woman in the red dress in order to fulfill himself sexually. The setting gives off a cold unhomely feel to any dweller, contributing further to the dystopic imagery. The apartment which Winston Smith, the protagonist of 1984, lives in is cramped and uncomfortable, with the

telescreen removing whatever privacy there is left. Likewise, the living quarters on Nebuchadnezzar, or the hovercraft where the protagonist, Neo, lives on, are very tiny, with each room being little more than an oversized closet featuring a narrow bunk and a heavy metal hatch as a door. Furthermore, with the constant threat of enemy machines called Sentinels “programmed for only one thing…search and destroy,” there isn’t a single second when Neo can feel safe. In both works, the protagonist is imperfect: In 1984, Winston is old, frail, and constantly bothered by the throbbing ulcer on his ankle. In The Matrix, Neo has mechanical implants throughout his body, a painful reminder that he, too, used to be part of the Matrix. Had Morpheus not freed Neo, he would have never

realized that the real world is actually a post-apocalyptic dystopia at the end of the 22nd century. In fact, the movie also explicitly says that our world right now is an imperfect society and hints that our society could never become utopic because “human beings define their reality through misery and suffering. So the perfect world was a dream that your primitive cerebrum kept trying to wake up from”(The Matrix). By choosing an imperfect person as the protagonist, the director/author is able to remind the reader that the protagonist is only human, not perfect. Certainly there are many similarities in these two fictitious works; however, upon closer analysis, there are more differences than similarities. First of all, in 1984, the enemy to the public is their own