A Change of Mind
One morning while the Prisoner is exercising in his private area in the woods two of the Village toughs arrive and accuse him of not being a Public Minded Citizen, and trying to keep that area for his own private use. Eventually both attack the Prisoner and are defeated. Like all beaten bullies, they threaten to "tell," and this time "the committee" will be the ones told.
Soon the Prisoner is called to a meeting of the committee. They are all similar in appearance, and state that they are there to help the Prisoner. They are, in effect, the Citizens Welfare Committee.They warn the Prisoner that a serious complain has been filed against him, and that he has been accused of being disharmonious. They suspend his hearing and call for a medical examination, along with work by a Social Group.
The Prisoner finds that his case is already in the papers and people are beginning to avoid him.
Number Two warns the Prisoner that "you are simply Citizen Number Six who has to be tolerated and, if necessary, shaped to fit." One of the members of the Village has been assigned to work with the Prisoner, and reveals that she, at one time, was "posted" as "disharmonious." She now believes that it was totally her own fault.
She encourages the Prisoner to join in "the spirit" of the Social Group, since they can help him with the Committee. The Prisoner tries to help a girl who has been accused of being unsocial since she was writing a poem and didn't respond to a greeting. For his efforts, the Prisoner is called "unmutual."
Later, in the hospital after his medical exam, the Prisoner sees a conditioning room which inflicts a rather effective form of torture. He is then declared "unmutual" officially by the Committee, and is warned that if he gets in any further trouble, he will have to undergo Instant Social Conversion.
As a result of the declaration, no one will talk to him any longer, and he becomes nearly totally isolated except for the Appeals subcommittee, prompting Number Two in the confines of his room to state:
"Now let's see how the loner withstands real loneliness."
The Prisoner soon runs into active hostility directed against him, apparently part of a relatively organized campaign. Matters worsen, and finally the Prisoner must confront an entire mob of people arrayed against him. He is forced to go to the hospital, and the Instant Social Conversion operation is prepared. It is one in which ultrasonic waves are used to perform what is, in effect, a lobotomy, rendering the person a totally "fit" member of the Village. All the individual has to show for the operation is a minor burn mark on the side of his head.
The operation is performed in front of cameras and later, when the Prisoner wakes up, he has seemingly accepted the Village and a more peaceful, albeit limited, life. He is warmly welcomed by the Villagers, as he is now a perfectly acceptable individual.
The Prisoner now receives an official welcome from the people after his "conversion."
Number Two now tries to get the Prisoner to reveal why he resigned, but is unsuccessful. The woman working with the Prisoner attempts to drug hm, but he spots the attempt and avoids it. The Prisoner now turns the tables on her and drugs her instead. He goes for a walk and the two bullies from the opening of the show attack him. At first the Prisoner, still thinking the operation was real, is unable to defend himself, but eventually he comes to life and thoroughly defeats the thugs.
The Prisoner runs into his female helper and succeeds in hypnotizing her, uncovering the details of the fake operation used against him. He then leaves her with a post-hypnotic suggestion, and goes to meet Number Two. He claims that he wants to make a public speech, basically to thank them and inspire them. He goes with Number Two out onto a type of balcony and begins the speech, but is interrupted when the woman helper, her post-hypnotic suggestion triggered by the clock's chimes, calls Number Two ‘unmutual." The crowd reacts, prompted by the Prisoner and the girl, and soon Number Two is running through the Village, chased by the volatile mob.
What we see here is an attempt to break the Prisoner psychologically, first by making him feel totally isolated, then by convincing him that the operation was actually a success. The isolation phase does seem to have some slight success, and it is interesting to wonder just what the effect would have been if it had been continued.
The overall similarity to our own society lies in the attitude of the Villagers and their Social Group, Instant Social Conversion and Citizens Welfare Committee. Many parallels in our own daily lives are evdient. The entire concept of "what is good for the majority is good for all" reflects this line of thought. Those who do not "fit in" are often branded insane, psychotic or some other term, the end result being that the yare controlled by the society by locking them up or drugging them to the point where they no longer pose a "danger" to others.
We see this kind of pressure to conform in our schools ,where students are forced to fit into particular molds, in business, where the same thing happens, on into advertising, televison, almost all aspects of popular culture. The differences that are not "tolerated" have become more and more differences in political and religious outlook and in sexual orientation.
One of the scariest things to realize is that this particular show is even more relevant now then when it was actually made; in other words, instead of more individuality, we now have more pressure to conform then ever before.
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