A student asked me this question over my regular emai:
Please help me. I don't understand this sentence: A dogmatic society's mistrust of nonconformity can result in injustice. Would you please explain to me the "mistrust of nonconformity" using some examples from Brave New World and The Crucible?
Please help! Thx a lot!
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Well, all the nonconformists get shipped off to the Falkland Islands! Nonconformists are those that rock the boat of society - they refuse to conform, or go with the flow, and thus challenge the status quo. Of course, interestingly, every society needs some form of nonconformity, because otherwise it can become staid and is unable to develop flexibly to situations - you always need a few "no" men if you are a boss, for instance. However, in the society of Brave New World, this becomes a liability if you have characters like John (aka "The Savage") challenging what have come to be accepted norms. For example, consider what happens when John starts crying in hospital at his Mum's death.
Nonconformity undermines social stability in BNW. "When the individual feels, society reels." Your question reminds me of one of a famous quotes from Emerson's "Self-Reliance": "For nonconformity, the world whips you with its displeasure." In BNW we see an example of this in Lenina. Her ongoing relationship with one man, Henry Foster, is most unorthodox. The rules in their society are simple, and aimed at making certain that there are no attachments between people that could cause them to "vary" from the "normal" and "predictable." Despite their best efforts, there are always "abnormal" citizens created through their hatching process. Bernard Marx is a male example; he is unstable. When he brings the Savage back to BNW, he starts a process that could lead to widespread social instability. But they are not the only ones. There have been many unstable individuals, and they have been shipped to the "Island" so they could express their individuality/nonconformity. The experiment is a total disaster, and leads to the death of many of them. The message is clear; our individuality (nonconformity) is the cause of most of our unhappiness. If you want happiness, you have to give up individuality and play according to the rules.
It's been too long since I've read Brave New World, so I'll stick to The Crucible.
Proctor and Corey "plow on Sunday"--which many of the farmers did in order to properly cultivate and harvest crops for both human and animal consumption. This is brought up against them in the witch hunt.
Martha Corey likes to read. Bless her! (Smile) Giles Corey, unknowingly, asks Hale about her penchant for books. He doesn't read, his other wives didn't read, it is uncommon. He doesn't understand it, but since he said, "it seemed to stop my prayer" she is brought in for questioning and hanged for a witch.
Mistrust of nonconformity equals the fear of something different.
In The Crucible, Giles Corey refuses to conform to his society's unspoken rule that everyone attends church. He doesn't care what other people think; he must be hiding something. Sarah Good doesn't conform to the standard of what a "decent" woman should be. She must be a witch. Elizabeth Proctor has a doll with a needle stuck in it. Nobody does that unless trying to curse another person. It is ironic that the same Puritans who saw witches in people who wouldn't conform had left England because they refused to conform to the church rules there.
In Brave New World, Lenina and John the Savage actually mistrust their own nonconformity. Lenina struggles with her desire to love one man. Her society condones promiscuity; something must be wrong with her. John decides that he doesn't belong because his beliefs don't conform.
I hope that helps.
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