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What are similarites and differences of how the theme of free willl vs. security is...

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seerboldly | Student, Grade 10 | (Level 1) Salutatorian

Posted August 22, 2013 at 1:22 PM via web

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What are similarites and differences of how the theme of free willl vs. security is used in George Orwell's 1984 and The Matrix?

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accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted August 23, 2013 at 6:26 AM (Answer #1)

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Both of these texts plunge the reader into two worlds where there is very little opportunity to use one's free will. In Orwell's dystopian nightmare, it is fear of the Thought Police and their constant observations that prevent people using their free will, as is quickly established in the opening chapter:

There was of course no way of knowing whether you were being watched at any given moment. How often, or on what system, the Thought Police plugged in on any individual wire was guesswork. It was even conceivable that they watched everybody all the time.

Even when Winston Smith and Julia do mount their rebellion against the Party and the Thought Police by mounting their affair and trying to live and enjoy life against the creed of the Party, it is shown that this rebellion is a rather petty, insignificant affair, that amounts to little and really does not threaten the might of Big Brother. Security is shown to be the much more powerful force between free will and security, and at the end of the book Winston finds that even his free will is taken away as he is tortured into loving Big Brother.

The film of The Matrix presents free will in a different way. There is totalitarian control again, as expressed through the ways in which humans live in fact in a kind of computer program in which they live, work and breathe, and are not aware of their true state: humans are farmed by computers, and their heat and electrical activity are used as an energy source. However, Neo is shown through Trinity and Morpheus that there is free will in this dystopian world, and he is able to "resurrect" himself from his state of ignorance to one of knowledge. Free will is shown to be much more of a force to be reckoned with in this text, as it is Neo that chooses knowledge and then chooses to rebel against the computers.

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