In Yevgeny Zamyatin’s We, the author develops a structure of a totalitarian state that can be paralleled to the Garden of Eden and the price one pays to achieve utopia. Ironically, this utopian state is really a dystopia. The concept of the utopian ideal began in ancient Greece, where the structure of the city was fundamental to an organized society. This style can be seen as a template later on for books such as More’s Utopia, Bellamy’s Looking Backward, Campanella’s City of the Sun, and Bacon’s New Atlantis. However, these books will not be discussed in this paper, although examples from the Bible and George Orwell's 1984 will be used to illustrate the similarities between the paradises. The structure of the city also mirrors the type of people that inhabit it and the current weather conveys the mood.

The term paradise originated from “Paradeisos, a Greek word of Persian origin meaning a garden or park. In the Septuagint… it is applied to the Garden of Eden. In the New Testament the word is synonymous with “heaven,” since in heaven, the second Eden, man is restored to the state of happiness he forfeited in the first” (Lass, Kiremidjian, and Goldstein 193). When we think of the Garden of Eden - Paradise - it is a place free from war, hatred, and envy, a place where equality, happiness, and satisfaction reign. Discord is unheard of, and there is no real need for anything; everyone has everything they need.

One State may be free from all of the forms of discontent, but most of the time, the only way to avoid potential conflict is to be entirely oblivious to other ways of thinking. For example, if a person believes that everyone is the same as him/herself, there is no reason why conflict would exist. Therefore, a utopia is not always entirely positive. For people to accept everything as being equal, they must not know what is better, worse, or different. When Adam and Eve consumed the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, for instance, they gained knowledge that they were naked for example

“Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made loincloths for themselves. They heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden at the time of the evening breeze, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden. But the Lord God called to the man, and said to him, “Where are you?” He said, “I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself.” He said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?” (“Genesis3.7-12).

and where quickly exiled from the Garden of Eden. Of course, this does not mean that the only way to live in a utopia is to be entirely oblivious, but most often, people in utopias are presented as being ignorant in some way. The people of We are seen as “Not men but some kind of tractors in human form” (Zamyatin 182). In cases like these, such as Zamyatin’s We, the Utopia should have the motto 'ignorance is bliss'.

“The people longed for someone to tell them, once and for all, the meaning of happiness, and then to bind them to it with a chain. What is it we're doing right now, if not that? The ancient dream of paradise... Remember: In paradise they've lost all knowledge of desires, pity, love -- they are the blessed, with their imaginations surgically removed (the only reason why they are blessed ) -- angels, the slaves of God..." (Zamyatin 205).

The allegory of Eden and the story of Adam and Eve can even be further paralleled with that of George Orwell’s 1984, another novel about a dystopic world. In Orwell’s 1984, the story takes place in a country called Airstrip One, where Big Brother is like God, Winston Smith is like Adam, and Julia is like Eve, but can also be seen as the serpent who tempts Winston into taking pleasure of their lust. The two novels parallel each other because the Benefactor is the God, D-503 is Adam, and O-90 is Eve. Or the greatest difference can be that O-90 represents the innocent side of Eve, and I-330 represents the side of Eve contemplating eating the apple and the result thereafter. I-330 can also be seen as the serpent who tempts Eve into eating the fruit, and she is also a representative of the Mephi group. The irrational number in the novel - “the square root of -1” could be like love - it is something unexplained, and can be paralleled to why Eve took the apple from the tree. Why would she do something that would cost her happiness and eternal life? I-330 can also be seen as the irrational number, in the meaning that, why are there people like I-330 when One State is considered a perfect society and everyone is satisfied.

In Yevgeny Zamyatin’s We, the novel takes place in a city called One State, where inhabitants see it as an Utopia, but where readers see it as an anti-utopia. The overall structure of One State is cold; everything is made of glass, from tools to buildings. There is no privacy, and a Green wall surrounds the whole state. There is one exception to the glass though, the Benefactor - ruler of One State - is made completely out of iron. He is described as having a “slow, cast-iron echoing voice,” and “cast iron hands upon His knees which moved with the weight of a hundred tons” (Zamyatin 205). Iron is a repeated image throughout the novel because it represents the oppressive weight of the Benefactor. Iron is strong, chains are made out of iron, and “… everywhere man is in chains” (Andrews 4). In the thermodynamic theory, One State represents entropy, while the Mephi represent energy. The crystallization of elements slows its movement and gradually stops it. This is symbolized in the novel by the glass structures. The Mephi are full of life. The Green Wall is green because it reflects the vast wilderness outside the walls of One State, and the Mephi are wild beings that resemble human ancestors still in the apparent stage of evolution and are the instigators of the revolution in We. One State is also a city that has reached its maximum efficiency. It is thoroughly established and once a civilization or society has reached its climax, there is only one direction to go-- down, thus it is the end of energy and the beginning of entropy. Entropy is the gradual decay of something into disorder and randomness and this can be seen when the Mephi start the revolution. Thus the glass structures of One State are meant to slow down the process of entropy while the Table of Hours is meant to use energy in the most efficient way possible. In One State everything is done in unison, energy is used to its maximum efficiency and arranged on a Table of Hours which is based on Taylorist theories

“The Taylorist elimination of individual differences throughout a deliberate sequence of collective bodily movements produces a mechanical choreography whose aesthetic power overrides the dehumanization of the dance, even while its efficiencies yield a gain in productivity,” (Clarke).

The glass structures resemble the people of One State in the way that they are transparent, their moves can be easily predicted because they are one and the same, and they can be easily broken and replaced - like machines. And like machines the people of One State are assigned a number at birth for a name like the common Universal Product Codes used today. Even the rooms that the people live in are the same numbers as the people, so the main character D-503 lives in building D room 503, and I-330 lives in building I room 330. The random assignment of numbers also lends anonymity while creating equality among the people. There is no real individualism except for the Benefactor who has a name and the Integral to enhance its image as the machine that would tell other worlds about the glory of One State. This is ironic, in that the people of One State than can be seen as a collective culture while the Benefactor can represent individuality. Reading the following quote: “We comes from God, I from the Devil” (Zamyatin 124) the people can be seen as generally good, and the Benefactor as evil.

The glass also represents the nakedness of the people, constantly being watched, having nothing to hide, except for their special days set aside for sex “We get to use the blinds only on Sex Day. Otherwise we live in broad daylight... We have nothing to hide from one another” (Zamyatin 19). If there is nothing to hide, then why would the act of procreation be an exception to this rule, when it was even seen as a basic biological act such as defecating? “What the ancients found to be a source of endless tragedy became for us a harmonious, pleasant, and useful function of the organism, just like sleep, physical work, eating, defecating, and so on” (Zamyatin 23). Is it because the sense of shame was an inherent mindset in the people or were they given the knowledge that what they did was dirty? Why was this given privacy when nothing else was?

As already discussed, the city's structure mirrors the people within it. However, another mirror also exists - between the city's current state of freedom and its mood, and the weather. At the beginning of the novel the sky is described as

Blue, unblemished by a single cloud. (How wild the tastes of the ancients, whose poets could be inspired by those absurd, disorderly, stupidly tumbling piles of vapor!) I love - I am certain I can safely say, we love - only such a sterile, immaculate sky” (Zamyatin 5).

A world without cloud or storm is one of order, and conformity. Where the people are subservient and tame, just as the sky is tame. The clouds first appear as the resistance to the One State becomes active, both inside of D-503 and in the actions of the Mephi. The most significant cloud imagery is in the storm just before the attempted theft of the Integral and the Great Operation. Here the weather is described with great frequency as being “Wind. Sky made of racing cast - iron plates” (Zamyatin 199). Here in their moment of fury, just before freedom will be obliterated forever by the great operation, the clouds are described as Iron; Wind, a representation of freedom, is described as iron. In the end of the novel, when the people of One State are transformed into mindless drones, the skies once again become calm and tame “It is day. Clear. Barometer at 760” (Zamyatin 224).

The first state that One State is in before the revolution can be seen as the Garden of Eden – the first Eden – after the revolution it can be seen as Heaven – the second Eden – because in Heaven one lives in bliss. The problem with the first One State was that people’s wishes, desires have been repressed, but when the Mephi broke through, the liberators showed the people of One State what they had been missing. After being given utter freedom to do what they had been dreaming, they did not want to have it taken away because it made them happy, almost delirious. At the beginning only a few people were affected by imagination, which was seen as an illness - “You’re in bad shape. It looks like you’re developing a soulIncurable… A soul? Did you say, a soul? What the hell! Next thing you know we’ll have cholera again” (Zamyatin 88). The people soon sought help for this discomfort because

“no-one can be happy in Freud’s sense of the world, for no matter how well integrated one is in society there remain unfulfilled wishes and desires… ‘I believe that most people construct phantasies at times in their lives.’ In short, fantasy would seem to be a constant in any conceivable society” (Geoghegan 3).

Again, this is like the story of Adam and Eve. After they had eaten the apple and gained knowledge, they finally knew what pain was, and the only way for them to reenter paradise was through physical death. When they released their mortal selves and let go of all the pain of human life, they were received into heaven. In We the people achieve this “second Eden” by going through the “Great Operation” which eliminates the part of the brain that allows imagination to grow. The people of One State have now been stripped of imagination - which in Latin is “anima”, meaning the mind and soul - as well as love, and their identities. They have literally given up their souls and the true meaning and reasons of why people live at all.


“Works Cited”

Andrews, Charles M., ed. Famous Utopias. New York: Tudor Publishing Co, 1901.
Clarke, Bruce. Order, Chaos, and Dimensionality in Zamyatin’s We.” Energy Forms: Allegory and Science in the Era of Classical Thermodynamics. Jan 1999. 24 Jan 2002. .
Geoghegan, Vincent. Utopianism & Marxism. London: Methuen & Co. Ltd, 1987.
Holy Bible: New Revised Standard Version with Apocrypha. New York: New York, 1989.
Lass, Abraham H., David Kiremidjian, and Ruth M. Goldstein. The Dictionary of Classical, Biblical, & Literary Allusions. Ballantine Books, New York: 1993.
Manuel, Frank E., et al. ed. Utopias and Utopian Thought. Boston: The Riverside Press Cambridge, 1966.
Targowski, Henry W. “Utopia.” Mark/Space Interplanetary Review. Jan 1996. 12 Mar 2002 .
Zamyatin, Yevgeny. We. Trans. Clarence Brown. New York: Penguin, 1993.

A survey of utopian and anti-utopian literature:

Utopia, Sir Thomas More, 1517. The first novel to propose a social order based on perfect communism rather than selfish acquisition.

When you allow people to be brought up in the worst possible way and their characters to be gradually corrupted from a tender age, and then punish them when they commit those crimes as men which they showed all the signs of doing from their childhood - I ask you, what else are you doing than making men thieves and then punishing them?

Paris in the Twentieth Century, Jules Verne, 1863. Set in the Paris of 1960, Verne portrays a world where science has advanced to the point where it has taken over everything else, including art and literature.

Erewhon, Samuel Butler, 1872. Butler shows us an upside-down world where illness is treated as a crime, and crimes are treated as illness (as in, "that's Nosnibor, a recovering embezzler").

The reader will have no difficulty in believing that the laws regarding ill health were frequently evaded by the help of recognized fictions, which every one understood, but which it would be considered gross ill-breeding to even seem to understand. Thus, a day or two after my arrival at the Nosnibors', one of the many ladies who called on me made excuses for her husband's only sending his card, on the ground that when going though the public market-place that morning he had stolen a pair of socks.

Looking Backward, Edward Bellamy, 1888. Bellamy's protagonist accidentally "sleeps" until the year 2000, where he awakes to a society where everyone works for the state and gets an equal share of everything produced.

"No doubt that is a very fine philosophy," I said; "nevertheless it seems hard that the man who produces twice as much as another, even if both do their best, should have only the same share.
"Does it indeed seem so to you?" responded Dr. Leete. "Now, do you know, that seems very curious to me? The way it strikes people nowadays is, that a man who can produce twice as much as another with the same effort, instead of being rewarded for doing so, ought to be punished if he does not do so."

Brave New World, Aldous Huxley, 1932. We're taken to a hedonistic world of rampant consumerism where happiness is just a pill away and citizens are conditioned from birth to fit into their society.

"Heat conditioning," said Mr. Foster.
Hot tunnels alternated with cool tunnels. Coolness was wedded to discomfort in the form of hard X-rays. By the time there were decanted the embryos had a horror of cold. They were predestined to emigrate to the tropics, to be miner and acetate silk spinners and steel workers. Later on their minds would be made to endorse the judgment of their bodies. "We condition them to thrive on heat," concluded Mr. Foster. "Our colleagues upstairs will teach them to love it."

We, Yevgeny Zamyatin, 1923. A stark indictment of communism written as only someone who lived under communism can write it, but with a poetic flare that makes the work charming in spite of its message.

Dear O! It always seems to me that she looks exactly like her name: about ten centimeters shorter than the Maternal Norm, and therefore carved in the round, all of her, with that pink O, her mouth, open to meet every word I say.

1984, George Orwell, 1949. Big Brother watches over everyone on behalf of the Party.

...the three slogans on the white face of the Ministry of Truth came back at him:
WAR IS PEACE
FREEDOM IS SLAVERY
IGNORANCE IS STRENGTH

This Perfect Day, Ira Levin, 1970. Technology has run amok and UniComp now runs everyone's lives, in part by forcing everyone to wear bracelets that must be scanned has they pass through all public buildings and transport.

"And what specifically seems to be the trouble," he said.
Chip wiped his palms on his thighs. "He's drawn some pictures of members," he said.
"Acting aggresively?" "No, no," Chip said. "Just standing and sitting, fucking, playing with children."
"Well?"
"Chip looked at the tabletop. "They don't have bracelets," he said.

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