The Loss of Individual Identity Due to Social Pressure and the Societal Expectations of Beauty in Oryx and Crake, a Novel by Margaret Atwood

Topics: Oryx And Crake

In today’s fast-paced world, individuals are constantly faced with the challenge of finding themselves through all the noise. In Margaret Atwood’s Oryx and Crake (2009), societal expectations of beauty and the pressure to keep up with innovation and technology, are barriers to forming individual identities. A person’s identity is the beliefs and qualities, which shape their personality and set them apart from everyone else. However, to fit in society many individuals have colored themselves in art they can’t even critique.

From time to time, it is important to reflect and ask oneself “Why am I doing this?” Being aware of the inner self is just as important as the outer self. In Oryx and Crake, the characters experience a loss of individual identity due to society’s pressure to be successful and its expectations of beauty. Success in the novel is determined by the societal status of an individual in the field of bioengineering. In Atwood!’ novel, individuals blindly follow society’s standards without questioning their benefits and detriments and lead similar lives, which disables them from seeing right from wrong, destroying civilization.

Atwood’s novel dives into bioengineering and the constant revolutionizing of science, making us question its benefits of it. Are these new gizmo the savior of mankind, or deeper representations of our greed? (Oryx and Crake, many characters use bioengineering 0 play God and create life, Without considering the consequences of their actions, the scientists produce hybrid animals from which numerous end up being vicious and harmful for people, “There’d been a lot of fooling around in those days: create-an-animal was so much fun, said the guys doing it; it made you feel like God… Several experiments were destroyed because they were too dangerous to have around…” (Atwood 51).

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The experiments performed by the scientists are due to their sense of anonymity. In a world where everyone is scientifically producing one miracle after another, many characters struggle to form their identity and try to attain a sense of power, by acting God. However, everyone is so far ahead of themselves that they forget to consider the moral consequences of their actions. Competition in the scific world, in particular bioengineering, is the reason that everyone loses a sense of who they are, which results in them producing precarious animals, which are unsafe for the public. Hence, indicating that bioengineering comes at the cost of individuality and can lead to the severe consequence of endangering human life.

Other than the key importance of bioengineering in allowing people to play God and helping them fill their voids of anonymity, itis also the only profession given any importance in the novel. This raises the question of why only science related vocations are worthy of pursuit? In the navel, science-based universities like Watson-Crick are held on a pedestal, whereas literature centered universities are considered second-tierimmy the protagoni Oryx and Crake, narrates how the literature based university, Martha Graham, is looked down upon, “Martha Graham was behind the times in that, as in everything….The system had filed him among the rejects, and what he was studying was considered ~ at the decision-making, level, the levels of real power — an archaic waste of time.” (Atwood 195). Anything besides the field of science is considered a waste of time in Oryx and Crake, similarly to the world wwe live in today. The association of science with success is why everyone strives for a science related career inthe book. However people fail to see that science and technology are not just advantageous, they also brings along an addiction, which blinds people from focusing on themselves. According to dailymail online, on an average an individual spends 8 hours and 41 minutes on electronic devices. This takes away time from focusing on oneself and developing individual personalities. Similarly, in the story Atwood portrays this addiction through technological advancement and bioengineering, as a warning of what it can lead to in the real world, Hence, society’s association of success with the pursuit of bioengineering forces people to aspire towards the same goal, which results in a loss of self and anonymity, debilitating people from making decisions for themselves. A society that is blinded by creativity and human experiences, solemnly focusing on the success that can be achieved through scientific advancement and discovery, are fated to destruct. The progression towards a science related career is not simply a stepping stone towards becoming more powerful, itis also a step towards self-destruction, The antagonist Crake, renowned brilliant scientist, uses powerful technology at his disposal to create the BlyssPluss Pill. Crake creates the pill to gain ultimate control over the universe without considering its outcomes, “A couple of the test subjects… had assaulted old ladies and household pets and there had been a few unfortunate cases of priapism and split dicks.”. The list of Crake’s disastrous attempt to gain one perfect pill i long, however the main outcome is his desensitization which results in a loss of identity. Like many other big corporations and scientists, he feels no responsibility for his actions, “From the poorer countries. Pay them a few dollars, they don’t even know what they are taking, Sex clinics, of course — they’re happy to help, Whorehouses. Prisons. And from the ranks of the desperate, as usual.” (Atwood 296). Crake feels no remorse for the subject’s exposure to serious  diseases and even death. He happily narrates to Jimmy that he takes advantage of the unfortunate and exploits them for his benefits. Therefore, bioengineering and its inimical powers that follow along are responsible for many tragic events, of incapacitating people from differing between right and wrong. Crake’s lust for power causes him to lose sight of his identity, which results in him taking actions that cause an apocalypse.


Thus, Atwood proves that a society where individuals cannot develop individual identities are fated to be a catastrophe and result in the destruction of civilization. If you want to measure your level of sincerity, just take a moment and ask yourself a simple question. Is the way that you portray your outer self, the way you perceive your inner self? And once you reflect on this question, it won’t be long before you find the clarity of sincerity.

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The Loss of Individual Identity Due to Social Pressure and the Societal Expectations of Beauty in Oryx and Crake, a Novel by Margaret Atwood. (2022, Jun 11). Retrieved from

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