Essay on Taoism in Ursula LeGuin's

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Taoism in Ursula LeGuin's "The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas"

The utopian society fabricated by Ursula LeGuin in her short story, “The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas,” appears, before the reader is introduced to its one inherent imperfection, to be ideal to a point of disbelief. Even the narrator doubts that her account of this utopia, despite considering the allowances given to the reader to add or remove certain aspects of the society in an attempt to render a utopia fashioned to individual desire, is a believable one. Interestingly, it is not until one final detail of Omelas is revealed, that of the boy who is kept in isolation in wretched conditions so that the people of Omelas may recognize happiness, that the existence of the
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LeGuin’s description of Omelas engages all of one’s senses through her usage of rich visual, auditory and tactile imagery to ‘prove’ to the reader that Omelas is undeniably a utopia. The city of Omelas can be described as a place in which the inhabitants’ senses are constantly overwhelmed by sensations which are pleasing to their eyes, beautiful to their ears and sweet to their tongues. The unchanging state of this society which is surrounded constantly by sensory delight can be found in these descriptions; for instance, the “child of nine or ten [who] sits at the edge of the crowd, alone, playing on a wooden flute […] he never ceases playing” (LeGuin 275). In addition to the wooden flute, LeGuin describes, “a shimmering of gong and tambourine” (LeGuin 273). Following the narrator’s stunning description of everything which makes Omelas a utopia, her statement that the reader may, if he pleases, “add an orgy” in order to make the Omelas less “goody-goody,” makes it apparent that Omelas in many ways does not have to be concrete and limited to the previously provided descriptions. Her aim is not to describe a particular city, although it is named and its characteristics are already expressed, but to present the idea of a perfect city, a utopia in which bliss is fixed, and good fortune is wholly
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