The End of Panopticon/panopticism in William Gibson’s Mona Lisa Overdrive : A Baudrillardian Reading

Hanieh Zaltash, Farid Parvaneh


This paper seeks to examine William Gibson’s Mona Lisa Overdrive as a cyberpunk novel in the light of Baudrillard’s theory of “Simulation”. Jean Baudrillard believes that reality is replaced by “hyperreality” and human beings live in a total “simulation” in which everything, such as power might be simulated. Thus, according to Baudrillard, power exists just as “the simulation of power” which is the result of “the circularization of power” between the dominator and the dominated. Baudrillard delineates “the circularization of power” through criticizing Michel Foucault’s theories regarding power and panopticon, and introduces “the end of panopticon” which is centered upon the reversibility of the positions of the observer and the observed. In a meticulous analysis of TV performance of the Loud family in 1971, Baudrillard claims that the panoptic system is ended through playing on the opposition of seeing and being seen. The findings suggest that Mona Lisa Overdrive depicts “the end of panopticon,” in a sense that Angie Mitchell in this novel can be considered as a counterpart for Baudrillard’s instance of the Loud family. Indeed, this study attempts to elucidate “the end of panopticon” in Mona Lisa Overdrive (1988) through scrutinizing Angie Mitchell’s way of living.



Department of English Language and Literature, Islamic Azad University, Qom Branch, Iran

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