The Incongruity Between Idealism and Realism in



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陳彥蓉


The Incongruity Between Idealism and Realism in The Island

Utopia is a term denoting a visionary or ideally perfect state of society, whose members live the best possible life. The term ‘Utopia’ was coined by Thomas More from the Greek words ou (no or not), and topos (place), meaning ‘no place’, as the name for the ideal state in his book, De optimo reipublicae statu deque nova insula Utopia; moreover, there may also be a pun on eutopos, meaning ‘good place.’ (http://www.newworldencyclopedia.org/entry/Utopia.)That is, even though Utopia can be viewed as a good and wonderful place, in fact, the existence of Utopia is under great suspicious. While entering in 21 century, against of rising communism’s fake ideal society, the concept of dystopia and anti-utopia increasingly emerges and starts to struggle between ideal and reality. In this time, lots of dystopian literature released. “Dystopia is the antithesis of utopia. The dystopian views the social and aesthetic processes of urban transformation in wholly negative terms of alienation, overcrowding, brutality, ill health and as a loss of civilization.” (Gold, 70) In most dystopia literature, the group in power will use advanced technology to exclusively control their people, and thus dystopia literature especially emphasizes the incongruity under such an oppressed society or environment. In movie The Island, by means of comparing a sterile futuristic community, real modern society, and the dream island, we start to question again the existence of Utopia society. Does the idealistic perfect world really exist? Therefore, I want to look for the incongruity between idealism and realism in The Island such a dystopian work from different ways.



The story of The Island takes places during the midway through the 21st century, a man called Lincoln Six Echo lives in a confined indoor community, which is a collective and orderly living community, after ongoing abuse of the Earth has rendered most of the planet uninhabitable. One of the only places in the outside world still capable of sustaining life is an idyllic island where some of citizens are chosen to live through winning a lottery. Or at least that's what Lincoln and his fellow citizens are taught to believe that there is still a hope to live and become better; however, the truth is that Lincoln, like everyone he knows, is actually a clone who is kept under wraps to provide needed organs when the person supplying his or her DNA falls ill. The time when they chosen to go the island are the same time they have to sacrifice themselves to save those real humankind. The dream island is unreal and never exists. It produces from colons’ anticipation and the power’s lie. After being aware that their existence is a fraud, Lincoln escapes to the outside world with a fellow clone, Jordan Two Delta, though the powers that be are determined to see that no one can get away alive. However, in the end of story, Lincoln returns in order to help his fellows to escape from this restricted community, destroy the holographic projectors that hide the outside world from its residents, and breaks refutes the lies that given by the powers for a long time. (http://www.starpulse.com/Movies/Island,_The/Summary/) As we can see, those colons live in strictly restricted and collective habitations. From their clothes, diets, and free time activities to social relationships, they are closely monitored by the powers and their overseers. “Lincoln Six Echo and Jordan Two Delta. The names of the clones come from the last name of the clone's sponsor, the corporation-specific area codes of the sponsor's home, and a generation corresponding to the year they were created. Lincoln is male, and Jordan is female.” (http://www.funtrivia.com/en/Movies/Island-The-19443.html) It’s just like one of dystopian ideas, people’s name or the whole class system is prenatally designated in terms of fixed code and rules in order to maintain the order and for well-managed. They have to accept unity-education, and their knowledge is limited. Therefore, when Lincoln discovers a live moth in a ventilation shaft, it not only raises him and Jordan’s interest, but also leads him to be curious about outside world is really contaminated or not. It’s another simplification that “[f]ictional dystopias are commonly urban and frequently isolate their characters from all contact with the natural world.” (Rabkin, 4) That’s why the power, Dr. Merrick, is strive for avoiding these colons to contact the outside world and lies to them the world has already contaminated. Moreover, any concept and symbol of religion is not allowed in this community, thus when they escaped from the lying artificial building, it’s their first time to see the live snake and was almost attacked by it. It’s just like the scene that Eden and Eve meet the snake in Bible Revelation. The power of religion is unavoidable in real society. What’s more, “[t]he hero comes to believe that escape or even overturning the social order is possible and decides to act at the risk of life and limb; this may appear as irrational even to him or her, but he or she still acts, ” (Beauchamp, 62-63) and Lincoln Six Echo is the example. He had already found something wrong and felt the incongruity no matter is from his extraordinary dream or from the unrealistic everyday life. Finally, after a series of true came out and Jordan was chosen to be next victim, both of these force Lincoln to take actions—rebelling. To refute the ideal lies and return the real society.

It seems this ideal community is harmonious and under-controlled. However, people living there have to take lots of conditioning, even just a little conflict and change are unacceptable. Someone, who definitely is an insider, will rise up to revolt the current condition, and then collapse this unrealistic society. “The destruction of dystopia is frequently a very different sort of work than one in which it is preserved. Indeed, the subversion of a dystopian society, with its potential for conflict and adventure, is a staple of science fiction stories.” (Clute and Nicholls, 361) Today we love to divide the line between utopia and dystopia: ironically, the over idealistic utopian society also can be viewed as a kind of dystopian concept. Both are the struggle for people between idealism and realism. Even though in the ending of the story, Lincoln and his colon felloes escape from the confined indoor community, which is far away from ideal; however, the following reality may not meet their desire and need. These colons become the incongruous ones between ideal and real.

Works Cited

"Avatism and Utopia" No Place Else: Explorations in Utopian and Dystopian . 4, Eric S. Rabkin, Martin H. Greenberg, and Joseph D. Olander, eds.


Beauchamp, Gorman. "Zamiatin's No Place Else: Explorations in Utopian and Dystopian . Eric S. Rabkin, Martin H. Greenberg, and Joseph D. Olander, eds.
Clute, John and Nicholls, Peter "Dystopia", The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction (New York: St. Martin's Griffin, 1995) 361.

Gold, J.R. ‘Modernity and utopia’ (2008), Compendium of Urban Studies, London: Sage, 70. P. Hubbard, T. Hall and J.R. Short, eds.

Interesting Questions, Facts, and Information of The Island
http://www.funtrivia.com/en/Movies/Island-The-19443.html

New World Encyclopedia.

http://www.newworldencyclopedia.org/entry/Utopia


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