by Yevgeny Zamyatin

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What role does technology play in Yevgeny Zamyatin's We?

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Technology is all important in this novel. The One State, which emerged after a 200-year war, has used technology to create "unfreedom," which the state equates with happiness. Life is happier now, according to the state, because everything has become "simple." Nature has been tamed and all the people in the society are controlled and think as one.

D-503 the narrator, is at first an unapologetic admirer of the One State and its technological precision. For instance, he writes in his journal that:

The Well-Doer, The Machine, The Cube, the giant Gas Bell, The Guardians,—all these are good. All this is magnificent, beautiful, noble, lofty, crystalline, pure. For all this preserves our non-freedom, that is, our happiness.

The Well-Doer controls The Machine, using it to vaporize non-conformists and demonstrate the immense power of the state's technology. D-503 supports this and believes that the mathematically pure, seemingly perfect society the One State has developed is superior to what the natural world provides:

Man ceased to be a wild animal the day he built the first wall; man ceased to be a wild man only on the day when the Green Wall was completed, when by this wall we isolated our machine-like, perfect world from the irrational, ugly world of trees, birds and beasts ...

Later however, when D-503 falls in love I-33o, and she takes him beyond the Green Wall to a place where he can experience nature, he becomes part of her revolutionary movement, realizing the tyranny and restrictions imposed by The Machine are destructive to the human spirit. After this point, he fights the technological state, saying:

Save me from it—save me!

The dystopic novel ends with the power of technology and unfreedom winning, D-503 reduced to mindless obedience through an operation and I-330 dead by torture. The state reigns supreme, and the novel acts as a cautionary tale warning against the dehumanizing effects of too much rationalism and technology.

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