We Irony

Revealing Writing

D-503 starts his journal by dutifully copying out a newspaper article announcing that OneState requires works of propaganda for its expansion into outer space. Ironically, although We is meant to glorify the government regime and convince alien societies of its principles, the journal inadvertently documents the cruelties of a state intent on repressing all human emotions and desires. D-503 is pulled into a rebellion that demonstrates the emptiness of his life in OneState, and he dutifully documents everything. He even pens poetic lines about being in love. Rather than convincing others to submit to OneState, the journal would inspire horror and rebellion.

Mathematical Happiness

OneState's ultimate goal, human happiness, is an emotion, something that cannot be quantified or rationalized. Yet the government has converted an irrational feeling into a mathematical function. The Benefactor has deduced an equation for happiness, one that involves strict regimentation, ignorance and obedience. Unsurprisingly, this fails to make citizens truly happy. O-90's thwarted desire for a child tortures her, just as I-330's general lack of freedom stifles her. Human emotions cannot be converted into calculus functions; in this way, an equation to maximize happiness is inherently ironic.

Utopian Dystopia

One of the first dystopian works of fiction, We criticizes the optimistic visions of writers, like H.G. Wells, who were enamored with technology and its possibilities. Zamyatin ridicules the idea of constructing the perfect society. Ironically, although OneState was founded and designed as a utopia, it ends up functioning as a repressive dystopia. OneState strived to ensure human happiness and ends by turning citizens into less-than-human automatons. Any utopia requires a large degree of planning and control, which will ultimately lead to repression.

Rebel S-4711

It is clear as We progresses that Guardian S-4711 is cooperating with the rebellion in some capacity. He rescues D-503 when he is arrested in the street; he escorts the him to a rebel-friendly doctor; he makes a brief appearance beyond the wall. Yet for the vast majority of the novel D-503 does not realize S-4711 is a member of the Mephi. It isn't until he confesses rebel secrets to S-4711 that he realizes the Guardian is "one of them" (221). D-503's ignorance serves as an example of dramatic irony: the audience knows something that the narrator does not.