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Freedom is a state of mind. It is an opinion and perception of status, personal or not. I believe freedom is everything right and wrong in society. Why do we campaign for freedom so much when it is those who abuse freedom who cause pain? It was W. R. Inge, Dean of St Paul’s who quoted that ‘The enemies of Freedom do not argue; they shout and shoot’. People get overwhelmed by freedom, freedom is dangerous!
In order to insure one person’s freedom you must restrict another’s. In order for freedom to operate it must have boundaries, contradictory but true. Élie Haléy said that ‘The Socialists believe in two things which are absolutely different and perhaps in contradictory; freedom and organization.’ However both these things must combine to work effectively to achieve all positive liberty and restrain freedom being mistreated.
By studying texts and quotations we can understand different perceptions of freedom, and how it has changed, if at all over time and throughout different places.
Veronica is born without freedom! In the beautiful story written by Adewale Maja-Pearce she is born as a woman, born into a culture where her gender limits her opportunities, highlighting the difference between the roles and freedom of men and women. If Veronica had been male, she would have gone to the city and as a child to go to school. This gender differentiation plays a major role throughout the story. ‘You could go to night school and become a secretary’ A typically female associated job, in which Okeke suggests to Veronica she could achieve despite her lack of ‘qualifications not even a standard six.’ Soon after Okeke’s discarded suggestion Veronica claims ‘I have to go and cook, my father will be home soon’ restoring gender differences and stereotypes. However, there is the argument that she, along with other women would prefer to become a housewife, proving she is not free either way because she can’t show her passion for her town in risk of criticism.
Adewale creates an extraordinary character; she makes you empathise and strongly hate her. Veronica’s freedom is predetermined, she is defeated and it was her destiny to be unsuccessful, however it sickens me that her lack of optimism, and although presented with the prospect to flip her life upside down and break the gender barrier she remains stubborn. I believe she may have done this to stay individual, she wants to avoid pity and believes after refusing the offer previously would be embarrassed of changing strong views. I understand her, but will always be ‘frightened by her fatalism.’
The Apartheid removed the freedom of interracial couples, creating laws that strained race relationships, which unfortunately for Paulus and Thebedi included them. ‘Country Lovers’ tells the story of a couple who broke the apartheid laws and the consequences that therefore presented themselves.
As children, race doesn’t cause any problems; they were free; ‘the farm children play together when they are small,’ however, as they age the white children run off to school, and the separation and segregation increases. Education is available to the black children however at a much lower standard predetermining that they, along with Veronica, are to be unsuccessful and not to gain money, jobs or achieve. The black children were not free; they had limited options and were always second best to the white children. Although the apartheid has ended the segregation has not, and the contrast of freedom between whites and blacks still exists.
Paulus and Thebedi are not free to love. In ‘Country Lovers’ the tale of Thebedi, Paulus Eysendyck and Njabulo are descried as a relationship split by ‘perjury’ and jealousy. The male-female; coloured-non-coloured; upper class-lower class relationship between Thebedi and her ‘sweetheart’ Paulus is narrated as a tabooed relationship ‘He had to give it to her secretly’. There is no doubt that there were huge risks attached to the relationship for both parties. For her there was the risk of being found out, possibly killed or ostracized and for him of being pilloried and mocked. This is made more significant by what else we are told about Paulus who is a model of conformity in other areas of his life ‘He was a popular boy in school. He was in the second, then the first soccer team.’ This it makes it sound just as though this sort of relationship is unheard of, why would a popular boy want to have a relationship with a girl that worked in the ‘kraal’ (small African town). When Thebedi gives birth to a baby whose skin ‘did not quickly grow darker like most African babies do’ a problem is presented. This baby was the product and evidence of an interracial relationship, proof that they were a couple and had broken the apartheid laws. Both parents panic and pity themselves. Fortunately for them the baby dies, however it is very much a bitter sweet situation. They are free from any further trauma in result of the unaccepted child, however a child, problematic or not shall always remain beautiful and always remain yours. It was a memory of the love they had shared, the freedom that they created, and the death truly indicated the end of their relationship. This piece is exhilarating to explore as clearly one can get attached to the scenarios, such as when Thebedi accuses Paulus Eysendyck of killing their child, taking the case to court, however her case was supported with little evidence, and the accused was cleared not guilty.
This brings me to the conclusion that love can break the laws of freedom. Maybe love is freedom. And even though Thebedi claims ‘it was a thing of our childhood’ seeming prepared to put the whole scenario behind her and with her supportive husband move on in life she still wears the gilt hoop earrings that he presented to her. On the other hand, Paulus gives small clues that point towards affection for Thebedi and concern for the child’s welfare. On the one hand he did not deny the relationship, ‘The Defence did not contest that there had been a love relationship between the accused and the girl, or that intercourse had taken place, but submitted that there was no proof that the child was the accused’. I believe subconsciously Thebedi did not want to punish him, and even more so still loved him. She had become addicted to love, and obsessed to the freedom she was forcing. Love conquers freedom, love conquers everything.
‘Hello Big brother house, this is Davina, you are live on channel four, and your freedom is lost’, fortunately for the thousands of stupid people who throw themselves at ‘Big Bwover’, whilst twisting their peroxide blonde hair, they have the freedom to think.
1984 tells the story of a man, Winston Smith, living without freedom. George Orwell writes about his interpretation of the future, and the extremities that the public will have to endure. Which in this day, years after the book was both published and set, we have turned into a freak show; where naive contestants a served up, awaiting harsh criticism and the slim possibility of money and a short time in the spotlight, although this remains oddly appealing. In the book, ‘Big Brother’ a party which watches everyone’s actions and thoughts, imposes endless lists of laws, including the autonomy to love, until the person isn’t human any more. Personality is independence. Winston is part of the minority who have yet to give in to ‘Big Brother’, the Brotherhood, attempting to remain free in a world where the word has no meaning. Unfortunately, Smith is soon betrayed and his cover is blown, resulting in violent torture until his beliefs coincided with that of the parties. He had no choice; he was slowly becoming the last man not to accept his fate. He was being forced against his will to do everything and anything he was told. ‘You must love Big Brother. It is not enough to obey him; you must love him.’ Which is ironic as love is a crime. O’Brian tells this to Winston as he begins the final stage of his rehab into submission of the Party. It must kill you inside to have no say it, constantly being told what to do, what to think, you’re never yourself anymore. You in this case have to love hate.
Do we have the freedom to think? So many things alter our views that our view is not our own, just that of the countries, that of the agent that has socialised us. Everything and anything around us is attempting to impose itself upon us unavoidably. From a young age our primary socialisation has been our parents who in many cases have decided our religion, culture and more obviously the way we look, we have had no say in our upbringing, are we just a product of what our parents want us to be? As we grow up other factors inflict themselves into us. Many religions cause people to go through drastic measures to support their faith, that of which takes away what they eat, do and how they dress. Which they may argue against, disagreeing that they are free from the judgement and the rising cost of fashion. Mass Media is the modern day ‘Big Brother’; although we are all extremely bored of it, it introduced ‘size zero’ into our lives, along with many other unearthly trends. Girls and boys had their freedom taken away from them, believing they had to conform to certain body images. McDonald’s is Big Brother, in a recent survey the ‘Big M’ was identified by more people than being able to name the Christian cross, we have a problem, however I believe we have a choice. This choice varies between people, you can choose how much the world affects you, and regrettably some have none. You can attempt to be Winston Smith, however just like him, something will betray you, and another aspect of freedom will be demolished.
Some people will argue that 1984 is a society of dreams. Many people are afraid of choice and freedom and would rather live without it. They would claim that they would have more freedom if they were to live without option and alternative; turning George Orwell’s dystopia into a Utopian civilisation. They want organisation, and to be free in a world without independence. I fail to understand, although I would often like the preference to not make a decision I must have freedom of choice. In certain situations I find myself overwhelmed by the variety, however surely that doesn’t oversee the will to think. My mind, my imagination is my freedom. Even when push comes to shove, and I am locked away in a grotty, damp, piss stained cell my imagination shall run in the fields, and prance around, free as a butterfly.
We are not free in this world, but we can never be. In ‘Veronica’, ‘Country Lovers’ and 1984 all freedom is lost and organisation has overruled. I believe in order to attain as much freedom from anything but not everything we must find a balance between the two. In order to live in a free society freedom must have boundaries. I unluckily have little choice in whether I write this item of coursework, however if I chose not to I would be limiting my future. I am not free, the world is not free, however we are as free as we need or in many cases wish to be because freedom has a limit. Freedom is dangerous but it is beautiful.
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