Friday, January 17, 2020

Dialectics in Oryx and Crake Essay

Canadian author Margaret Atwood’s novel Oryx and Crake, is about an anti-utopian society that chronicles the collapse of civilization and corrupt medical practice. The town’s morals are highly questionable, in that the majority of the citizens approve of gene splicing, transgenic animals, like mixing a dog’s genetic code with a wolf, and transplanting animal organs in human beings. The book poses a question of what is truly ethical in medical practice? This story has an immediate correlation to the island of Dr.  Moreau, by H. G. Wells, in which a mad scientist creates a dysfunctional society of genetically spliced transgenic animals as well. Like The Island of Dr. Moreau, Margaret Atwood relies on dialectical elements. Dialectic is a classical philosophy originated by the Greeks that depended on the furthering of society through thesis and antithesis. In modern day it has developed between most scholastics as a fine art of persuasion. It is ever present in Oryx and Crake through the dialectics produced through Crake’s insanity. His main dialectical argument is that society has become morally bankrupt and is due for a change and Crake claims intellectual right over all of man kind. His views are presented as deliriously radical, but there is irony in the fact that the University that Crake attends is named Asperger’s U. A term used to describe people who are usually extremely intelligent and often very eccentric, it be could argued that Atwood hints to imply Crake may be the correct one after all, and that the rest of society is wrong. This virtually tyrannical takeover of both the world and the lives of Oryx and Snowman are done entirely through aggressive persuasion. In the formation of Crake, Atwood creates an insanely ranting lunatic, with whom in the end the reader has no choice but to sympathize. The dialectic argument that is posed here is that the dye is cast. Atwood, acknowledges that our society’s morals tread a fine line from damnation, and she writes a novel that puts us one step over that line. The reader has no choice but to sympathize with Crakes’ actions because he is a product of an unbearable world, not too distant from our own. The novel itself, poses a persuasive argument to the reader, in that all of the occurrences in the plot are rationally plausible. There are scenes in the novel where the two men, Crake and Snowman, are attending college together and enjoying their favorite pastimes. These hobbies include, watching nudie news, live executions, and child pornography. In the beginning moments of the lives of the two main characters, the reader views a demoralized world, in which it appears even the plot’s hero is desensitized to the plight of his society. The ironic and reasonable argument posed is that all of these things they are doing, we can do today in our society. At the same time, child pornography, nude news, and live executions online are all either frowned upon and remotely new to our society. Atwood presents the enjoyment of these practices like they are common occurrences. The same goes for gene splicing. It is widely debated as an immoral and illegal act, but it is reasonable enough to think that with the passing of time eventually a law can be passed to legalize both gene splicing and child pornography. This would inadvertently make the use and distribution of these practice more heavily abundant in society and change the moral makeup of the people as a whole. A third persuasive argument the novel poses, and this is more from a perspective of female empowerment, is the idea of polyandry. It is historically a man’s fantasy and an empowering element for the man, while degrading to the woman, for a man to have two wives. Atwood poses the exact opposing scenario in this novel. On one end the idea of polyandry is implied through the relationships both Snowman and Crake have with Oryx. It is directly inferred to in that the Crakers only breed when they are polyandrous. This like most of the novel is a play on societal norms. Underlying in the dialectic argument of the novel are societal implications. For example, by Atwood calling Crakes’ creations the Crakers, she creates an implied connection on words to the Quakers, who are known for starting their own Christian new world. Crake also embodies the values of real time corporations, in that he creates a medical demand for his products through unleashing a virus. His behavior can only be expected by his inherent capabilities and by him being the product of a moral-less society. Atwood’s novel is also fueled by human nature, the horrific experiences the characters go through and their apathetic reactions actually seem believable because they are so human. An example of this is shown in the scene where Crake has just destroyed society as we know it and snowman watches the devastation on the internet, The whole thing seemed like a movie†¦The worst of it was that those people out there – the fear, the suffering, the wholesale death – did not really touch him (Atwood, 2004). It is ironic that Atwood makes a reference to the end of society being like a movie; this exposes snowman’s adolescent and distant nature, as well as makes him appear more human. This also connects back to the live executions witnessed online earlier in the novel. These are examples of Atwood using real time human tendencies to show her characters’ disenfranchisement from society. The actions following this scene consist of snowman leading the Crakers out into the new world in which they find glow-in-the-dark bunnies running rampant. This is another societal implication in that this was the actual result of transgenic Dr. Eduardo Kac, who spliced rabbit and jellyfish DNA in the year 2000. In sum, the dialectic philosophy is present in Margaret Atwood’s novel, Oryx and Crake in that it poses multiple arguments. It supports these arguments through real-time societal implications, believable characters, and a radical thesis carried out by Crake. Atwood’s literary genius is revealed in the fact that, all three of these elements draw sympathy from the reader, and in effect persuade the reader to believe the rationale behind the destruction of their own society.

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