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Concept of Biotechnology in Divergent and Oryx and Crake

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Contrary to Jeanine, Crake wants to liberate humanity as a whole via his biotechnological inventions. Being frustrated with the entire humanity and its unwillingness to think and act responsibly in using the resources, Crake thinks of the new and ‘improved’ human race. In order to pause the horrible end of the pillaged and polluted world, he structures the Paradice project. Atwood speculates about the possible outcome of interspecies splicing and reveals how the technological hybridity leads towards a posthuman condition. Crake’s pursuit of a delirious dream of creating ‘perfect’ human leads to monstrosity and violence. In the compound culture, Atwood imagines, biotechnological experiments has ushered in greater social injustice and widespread environmental destruction, heralding the bleakest of posthuman futures in which humanity eventually disappears.

Both Tris and Jimmy mourn for the irrevocable loss of human values and their unflagging attempts of upholding those values to restore human essence. Crucially, it is their human perspectives that remains dominant in their exploration of a posthuman world. Repressive state system and unscrupulous corporations successfully produce human-animal and human-machine hybrids because there was no one to monitor the scientific experiments. Biotechnology becomes a force for destruction of entire humanity in Oryx and Crake and a tool to enslave human beings in Divergent. By eroding human values such as morality, love, and empathy, the biotechnological inventions fortify social stratification and fragmentation, totalitarianism, surveillance and enclosure, ecological degradation, mind control and destruction. With their bodily movements precisely programmed by the simulation serum, the Dauntless army is reduced to tech-nobody.

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They act as mere puppets in a play written and directed by Jeanine and the serum dictates every movement, thus, works as a bioweapon for the authoritative operation of power. Thoroughly instrumentalized by the authority, the Dauntless members ultimately become powerless and fail to resist the self-destructive plan. Jimmy’s identification of language and art as the antidote to the plague created by Crake ends up in reinscribing the centrality of human agency as well as values such as empathy and religious belief that are associated with human essence. Having created hostile bioforms and experimented with possible cures, the scientists remain carefree as they are protected inside the gated compounds. Their conscience is clear, as seen in Jimmy’s father (yours in guilty – not mine), because they treat it as ‘business,’ therefore, consider it right. Conclusion: The thesis shows how these two novels differ – both ideologically and aesthetically – in their treatment of biotechnology. It is the hubris, the overweening belief in the power of biotechnology to dominate the world and in the possibility of creating the ‘perfect’ human, that Atwood and Roth highlight in their novels. Roth exemplifies the critique of using biotechnology in forms of biopolitical control and intends to elevate what is essentially human in a posthuman world. The Dauntless members are manipulated by Jeanine’s close control of their deepest fears. She aims to distort everything quintessential human – freedom, ethics, morality, love, empathy, and the like – through the precision of a serum-driven life. The protagonists remain physically and ideologically separate from the sub/non-human creatures that surround them.

Atwood rejects a future in which humans will become ever more distinct from other living beings, instead she insists that there might be a possibility of having a world where all animals, human or not, would live in harmony, protecting and supporting each other – free from bad faith and without the aim of destroying ecological balance. In contrast, Roth neither prefers a technologically mediated form of existence nor exposes an optimistic view of distributing agency that would dissolve the boundary between human and sub/non-human. The interlacing between biotechnology and authoritative power establishes the bleakest of posthuman future where the definition of human is at stake. Roth reasserts that human values such as freewill and ethics should not be subject to biopower and biopolitics. Dependent upon and entwined inextricably with Bioethics Bioethics is commonly understood as the study of ethical issues concerning life sciences, biotechnology, medicine, law, and philosophy. Van Rensselater Potter, who coined the term, stressed that: “A science of survival must be more than a science alone, and I therefore propose the term Bioethics in order to emphasize the two most important ingredients in achieving the new wisdom that is so desperately needed: biological knowledge and human values.” (Bioethics: Bridge to the Future 2) According to Encyclopedia of Bioethics, bioethics is “the systematic study of human conduct in the area of the life sciences and health care, insofar as this conduct is examined in the light of moral values and principles” (xix).

As Adami points out, the “relevance of literature for bioethical reflection is also related to the fact that both literature and bioethics are interested in the future of humanity and call attention to the dangers of uncontrolled scientific progress” (40). Apart from speculating about issues open to debate, such as the dire consequences of scientific progress or the apparent (im)possibility of posthuman future, this paper offers a feasible insight into the negotiation of bioethics and post-identities in the near future portrayed in Divergent and Oryx and Crake. In the light of Foucault’s theories on discipline and surveillance, this paper undertakes an analysis of bioethics which comprises fields of consumerist interest, manipulative devices, and scientific motivations. Many aspects of these novels can be interpreted in light of the theories by Michel Foucault. I will focus on Discipline and Punish and History of Sexuality as these texts provide valuable commentary to decode the complicated power relationships evident in both Divergent and Oryx and Crake. However, it must be clarified that this thesis strictly limits itself within the discussion of bioethics, therefore, the allusion to Foucault will be restricted to only the chapters which are helpful to understand the negotiation between power and ethics. Thinking Post-identity I propose that the “post-” implies a departure from conventional ideas about identity and opens up new possibilities by questioning old formations. In the age of biotechnology, post-identity can provide fresh insights by overturning traditional assumptions (1).

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Concept of Biotechnology in Divergent and Oryx and Crake. (2022, December 27). Edubirdie. Retrieved February 9, 2023, from https://edubirdie.com/examples/concept-of-biotechnology-in-divergent-and-oryx-and-crake/
“Concept of Biotechnology in Divergent and Oryx and Crake.” Edubirdie, 27 Dec. 2022, edubirdie.com/examples/concept-of-biotechnology-in-divergent-and-oryx-and-crake/
Concept of Biotechnology in Divergent and Oryx and Crake. [online]. Available at: <https://edubirdie.com/examples/concept-of-biotechnology-in-divergent-and-oryx-and-crake/> [Accessed 9 Feb. 2023].
Concept of Biotechnology in Divergent and Oryx and Crake [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2022 Dec 27 [cited 2023 Feb 9]. Available from: https://edubirdie.com/examples/concept-of-biotechnology-in-divergent-and-oryx-and-crake/
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