As and The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas

As humans, nobody wants to be left out and alone, everyone wants to feel included, everyone want to be included. Despite this fact, humans constantly create individual circles of inclusion in which others will be excluded, sometimes without even realizing. Society plays a large role in how people form their circles of inclusion, and their classification of “the other”, the excluded.The central characters in A Doll’s House by Henrik Ibsen, A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, and The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas by Ursula Le Guin confront varying levels of dehumanization and isolation as a result of society’s definition of “the other”.In the play A Doll’s House by Henrik Ibsen, Nora comes face to face with her “otherness” due to the many societal expectation and pressures that influence the way others around her think. The main issue of alienation and the classification of “the other” stems from the role of women in that time period. Women did not have much freedom. In the third act, Nora’s eyes are finally opened and she sees the reality of her situation and relationship; she decides to leave Torvald, and needless to say he is not pleased, “Helmer: Can you not understand your place in your home … have you no religion?” (65). As a woman, she is not apart of the “man’s world” or the distinct circle of inclusion, she has her place decided for her by men whether she likes it or not. Linked to the idea of society’s role for woman is the aspect of dehumanization that follows. Nora is alienated within her own family and is seen as a source of entertainment around the house, not only that but Torvald essentially dehumanises her through the constant use of pet names, “Helmer: Is that my little lark twittering out there? … Is it my little squirrel bustling about?” (4). By giving her less human value Torvald is setting up the divide between the circle of inclusion and Nora, “the other”. This divide emphasizes the reality of men having more value than women, whose main purposes are to take care of the children and provide sexual entertainment. In addition to dehumanization, Nora is excluded in the sense that other treat her as a child, specifically Torvald and her father. Towards the end of the play, Nora finds herself having a deep conversation with Torvald in which she says, “he called me his doll-child, and he played with me as I used to play with my dolls, and when I came to live with you-” (63). She is saying that both her father and her husband treated her the same way, not as an equal but as a child, someone of significantly less value. Nora was isolated from her family and the outside world because society’s definition of “the other” placed men on a higher level than woman.Another character who falls into the category of “the other” as a result of society is the angel/old man from the short story A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. In the story and old man with wings is discovered in the courtyard of Pelayo and his wife Elisanda after a storm; he is believed to be an angel. Throughout the story the old man is treated badly, “Pelayo watched over him all afternoon from the kitchen, armed with his bailiff’s club, and before going to bed he dragged him out of the mud and locked him up with the hens in the wire chicken coop”(4). This is a clear example of dehumanization towards somebody who is an outsider. The townspeople don’t know how to react someone so different, so outside of their circle of inclusion that they revert to treating him like an animal. Early on in the story the local priest, Father Gonzaga informes the townspeople of his opinion, “he did not understand the language of god or how to greet his ministers … and nothing about him measured up to the proud dignity of angels” (5). Now, not only is the old man an outsider in society’s eyes but an outsider to the typical classification of angels as well, he does not fit the typical image that an angel should have. The old man is further described as “speaking like a norwegian” to emphasize the divide between the old man vs. the typical angel, and the old man vs. the townspeople, for the reason that he looks, talks and acts differently from what is known and accepted in society. In the story people came from all over to seek help from the angel, “the only time they succeeded in arousing him was when they burned his side with an iron for branding sheers” (8). The townspeople don’t see him as something living and breathing, rather just an oddity and an outside that they can use for their own benefit. As “the other”, the old man holds little human value. The townspeople, driven by a fear of the unknown, as so trapped inside their society and it’s boxes that they dehumanize, isolate, and cause the suffering of the old man, “the other”.In The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas by Ursula Le Guin, society’s description of “the other” causes the extreme suffering of a child for the sake of a society it is excluded from. The story focuses on the utopian city Omelas that is characterized by happiness and prosperity, but underneath it all is a child who remains nameless and neglected for the sake of the city’s happy existence. “In the room is a child sitting. It could be a boy or a girl … It is feeble-minded. Perhaps it was born defective or perhaps it has become imbecile through fear, malnutrition, and neglect” (3). The child is both physically and figuratively isolated from everyone. It’s “otherness” is highlighted through the dehumanization and the use of “it, as well as the reality that the child has next to no human value in comparison to the rest of the city, for it sits alone like a bird trapped in a cage. While some of the townspeople may disagree with the situation, they eventually come to terms with it, “They may brood over it for weeks or years. But as time goes on they begin to realize that even if the child could be released, it would not get much good of its freedom: a little vague pleasure of warmth and food, no doubt, but little more” (4). Almost as it convincing themselves, the young people come to the realization that the suffering of “the other” is better for society as a whole. This further builds up the divide between the circle of inclusion, the people of Omelas who know but do nothing, and the child suffering for their sake. All of this directly connects to the underlying concept of the individual vs. society. As the narrator says in the story, “They all know it is there, all the people of Omelas. Some of them come to see it, other are content merely to know it is there. They all know it has to be there” (3). This compares the suffering of the individual to the happiness of society, in that society’s happiness in total is more valued than that of a child. Every character in the story is sorted into a group, the ones who walk away, the ones who stay, and the individual child who is excluded and isolated from any possible circle of inclusion as a result of society’s classification of “the other”.In A Doll’s House by Henrik Ibsen, A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, and The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas by Ursula Le Guin, society’s definition of “the other” is what forces the main characters to feel and experience extreme levels of dehumanization and isolation throughout the course of their stories. Whether it is Nora who feels trapped within the societal pressures and gender roles, the old man/angel who is dehumanized and treated badly by those who are scared of the unknown, or the child who is alone, neglected and suffering for the sake of a society it is not apart of, the characters from these three vastly different stories are connected through their similar experiences of being excluded, isolated and alone in their respective worlds.