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Theme Study (One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest, Brave New World, Fahrenheit 451 And Bless The Beasts And Children) The Study Of Individuality Vs. Conformity

1092 words - 4 pages

My investigation examined the theme of individuality vs. conformity. The texts I have chosen gave an effective portrayal of this. The texts I selected included 'One Flew over the Cuckoo's Nest' by Ken Kesey, 'Bless the Beasts and Children' by Glendon Swarthout, 'Fahrenheit 451'by Ray Bradbury and 'Brave New World' a novel by Aldous Huxley. Each of these texts expressed the theme of individuality vs. conformity in a different way depending on the setting and the main character, but for each character the consequences of asserting his individuality was tragic.How did the social setting demand conformity from the characters and why does the main character not conform?In 'One Flew over the Cuckoo's Nest' the setting was a psychiatric hospital which reflected society and the order that was forced on the patients reflected the pressures of modern American society. The authority -represented by "Big Nurse"- demanded conformity by humiliating the patients and exploiting their weaknesses. Mc Murphy, the main character in the novel did not conform at first because he hoped to exploit the patients and make some money, and later because he felt compassion for the other inmates. He challenged Nurse Ratched's authority which showed the other inmates that she was not all-powerful and helped them become more assertive.In 'Bless the Beasts and Children' the setting was a Boy's Summer Camp which demanded conformity by enforcing competition and humiliating the losers. The Bedwetters could not conform because they were emotionally disturbed, being neglected by their parents. John Cotton the leader challenged the authority by leading them on a quest to free the buffalos. He was motivated by compassion for the disturbed children and the buffalo. Both these novels offered a criticism of modern American society and how it represses individuality and differences.Both 'Fahrenheit 451' and 'Brave New World' were dystopias (an unpleasant society set in the future). The future setting of 'Fahrenheit 451' demanded conformity by making firemen burn books and punishing those who read them. People drove in fast cars, watched TV and listened to the radio. Books were banned because reading led to thinking, arguing, conflict and social instability. The protagonist was Guy Montag who was a fireman. He rebelled against his job and society because he decided that it was wrong to burn books and the people who read them. He thought that it was important for people to think, discuss and gain knowledge.The futuristic setting and environment of restriction was also illustrated to in 'Brave New World', where society was divided into certain groups with different intelligences. This society had been structured to maximize and create social stability where no one could question authority or not conform. Belonging to a certain group made everyone feel pleased in their jobs and lives, people who felt depressed were made to take Soma, a drug. Everybody was kept happy so no one was discontented...

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