Monday, July 31, 2006

Happiness in 'We'

I believe that Zamyatin uses happiness as the goal of the citizens to show that in a so-called "perfect" society, people can still be unhappy. The mask of happiness may be present, as in D-503's case at the beginning of the novel, but that does not really mean that it truly exists. Furthermore, happiness is a basic human characteristic that all men and women strive to attain. The fact that every person has a different definition of happiness and different things make them happy, is the exact reason that Zamyatin chose it to be the main goal of The One State. Ultimately, happiness is nothing more than the release of seratonin, dopamine, and other endorphines, all caused by different stimuli for different people. In "We", D-503 seemed as though he was happy at the beginning of the novel, but than began to realize that his world of perfection was inherently imperfect because life was stripped of emotion-like happiness and love. He begins to develop these feelings, and later a 'soul', which I think Zamyatin uses to show that people can be happy if they desire to be happy.
The book would not have been effective in its message if Zamyatin chose a different characteristic, such as fulfillment or excellence because those are somewhat measurable achievements, unlike happiness. Fulfillment can come from simply filling your role in society and keeping the gears working. If this were the case, there would be no need for D-503's "spiritual rebirth" (if you want to call it that). Furthermore, it cannot be said that all humans desire to be excellent or work hard, but it would be hard to argue that there are people out there who do not desire to be happy-

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