Sunday, July 31, 2011

"We"

Something else from my old school notes. It's a brief handwritten essay, probably from an exam, about Yevgeny Zamyatin's We.

SPOILERS

Zamyatin loved freedom, so naturally he was dismayed when he saw it disappearing under Lenin's reign. His book We, to use words in the introduction, "is a warning, and a challenge, and a call to action" (xxvi). With it he shows what communism may turn the world into if people aren't careful.

Lenin's rule was controlling, and order was kept with the secret police. The secret police in We are the Guardians. They look for people who act irregularly, and punish those who do things which are considered inappropriate.

Literature was controlled under Lenin's rule. An example of this is the fact that We was not published in Russia during Zamyatin's lifetime. Writings which were not approved of by the government were not published in government magazines or books. In the book We a poet is executed because he wrote bad things about the Benefactor. As though that were not controlling enough, D's friend, the poet R, must compose and read a poem at the execution of his fellow poet.

There is also the revolution. As already stated, the book is partially a call to action. It shows people that even if they are oppressed, are completely cut off from the outside world, with no way to escape their suppressor's scrutiny long enough to begin a revolution, even then there is still hope. As I says in We, there is an infinite amount of numbers -- you cannot reach a final one. And there will always be another revolution.

The revolution in the book is similar to when the bolshevik party took control. They took control completely and totally and it must have seemed hopeless to many. But there was still hope out there. This is illustrated in We. When the operation is performed on D he becomes completely under the power of the Benefactor, without the will to escape. However, O has escaped beyond the Wall, and will raise their child outside the control of the Benefactor.

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