Friday, February 1, 2008

Biblical Allusions in We

I know we talked about this in class on Thursday, but today I want to write a little more about Zamyatin’s use of religion, particularly biblical allusions in We. I think the beginning of this novel can be seen as a story of Adam and Eve. At first, we are told that the One State is set up to be perfection on Earth, just like the Garden of Eden. With the Benefactor as God, he created a society intended to promote happiness and comfort free of pain, envy and worry. At some point before we met her, I-330, as Eve, was introduced to the “forbidden fruits” of the ancient world. These are the things that the One State wanted to keep from the numbers such as alcohol, lust and appreciation of ancient music. Just as Adam and Eve, I-330 shared her forbidden knowledge with D-503. In the Bible, it is understood that this was intended to happen as part of God’s plan for humanity. I believe this idea of Adam’s predestination is paralleled by D-503. D discovers that his mother was from beyond the Green Wall so perhaps he was predisposed to have a “soul.” The social hierarchy in We also emulates a divine hierarchy. The Guardians are in place to keep the numbers from straying from the way of the One State and to serve as liaisons between the Benefactor and the masses. This concept is similar to the idea of guardian angels. I wonder why Zamyatin chooses to illustrate his dystopia as a parallel to a Christian society. Is he mimicking faith? Is he simply creating a society we can understand, by introducing the One State just as the Earth is introduced in the Bible? Or is the One State a satirical criticism of impending communism in his own country?


Kyle Caffey said...

Wow, these are amazing parallels.
I also think that it is interesting that the forbidden fruit in both cases produces a knowledge of things that were not known before. In the case of We, D learns to feel and imagine. In the Bible, Adam gains the knowledge of Good and Evil.
There are a few differences between We and "The Fall of Man" that I think are worth noting:
1) The idea of original sin. In We, D and I were not the first to taste this forbidden fruit. The soul existed in the ancients before D and I.
2) The sending out of Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden. In We those who eat the fruit get liquified. The benefactor, unlike the biblical God, doesn't allow choice.
3) God's way of redeeming the fallen. In the Bible, God offers redemption through the sacrifice of His son. The Benefactor in We offers no sacrifice and instead demands that the "Great Operation" be performed on the citizens of the One State. He trumps the will of the citizens.

Blackout said...

Interesting. Then again I could also see either D-503 or I-330 as Moses type characters as well, leading masses of people to promised lands and all.