Paradoxical Hero In the movie The Matrix, the main character, Neo or Mr. Anderson, is liberated from his role as a slave to sentient machines by Morpheus, Neo’s supporter and leader, who later tells him the truth that, “the Matrix is everywhere”, functioning like an ideology. Morpheus tells Neo that, The Matrix is a system, Neo. That system is our enemy. But when you’re inside, you look around, what do you see? Businessmen, teachers, lawyers, carpenters. The very minds of the people we are trying to save. But until we do, these people are still a part of that system, and that makes them our enemy.
You have to understand, most of these people are not ready to be unplugged. And many of them are so inured, so hopelessly dependent on the system, that they will fight to protect it. (Matrix) Morpheus goes on to satisfy Neo’s doubts by reminding him of the feelings he had within the Matrix that, “there’s something wrong with the world, […] like a splinter in [the] mind, driving [one] mad”. Neo, is distraught to the notion that the world he knew is a fabricated lie or “Camera Obscura,” mirroring a past world created by sentient machines in order to use his body heat for energy, in the post apocalyptic world of the late 22nd Century (Marx168).
After Neo accepts the reality of his situation Morpheus then tells him that he is the “one”, or the individual who has the ability to defeat the machines and free humanity. Neo prematurely denies this title yet slowly acknowledges the concept of the Matrix and his connection to it but becomes painfully aware that, “there is a difference between knowing the path and walking the path”(Matrix). Neo later accepts the role of the “one” and begins to display the qualities of a hero, with respect to his ability to alter the Matrix, but in his promise to save humanity some problems arise when one realizes the magnitude of the duty that is upon him.
Though the character of Neo may not be seen as a heroic figure, because of his lack of power to change the mode of production and division of labor with regards to the “real” world, those are blinded by Karl Marx’s definition of revolution and choosing to ignore how it applies to Neo’s ability with such a fragile situation where the sudden realization of alienation among enslaved humans could bring either hope or despair. The Matrix “is a ‘representation’ of the imaginary relationship of individuals to their real condition of existence,” for the illusion of the Matrix is a mirror to the real world of the ‘pod’ person’s, i. . slaves of the machine, existence (Althusser53).
Within the Matrix there is no escape for, “the Matrix is the world that has been pulled over [ones] eyes to blind [one] from the truth” that the real existence of those living within the Matrix are slaves. The Matrix and “real” world are corollaries of each other, for in both you are a slave to the machine, whether it is physical or ideological. In the Matrix you are subject to the ISA’s (Ideological State Apparatus) or the culmination of contrived social influences on ones life e. g. family, the media, religious organization and etc. while in the “real” world you are subject to the RSA (Repressive State Apparatus) or the machines who control and monitor ones existence (Althusser). Both the ISA and RSA in the film, The Matrix, use ideology and repression, though one more than the other, to mask the identify of those it is controlling by obscuring the inverted mode of production and division of labor as slaves. In Neo’s last speech to the machines he says, I’m going to show these people what you don’t want them to see. I’m going to show them a world … without you.
A world without rules and controls, without borders or boundaries; a world where anything is possible. Where we go from there is a choice I leave to you. (Matrix) The contradiction in his motives arises from the reality of humanities dependence on machines for, “throughout human history, [humans] have been dependent on machines to survive. Fate, it seems, is not without a sense of irony”(Matrix). So the problem appears as to how Neo is going to change the way people create their physical existence if the rest of humanity is dependent on the slave’s byproduct of heat to support the machines.