Gender is the image of masculinity or femininity that a person projects to others. The concept of gender is supported by the assignment of gender roles according to the image portrayed. Gender roles are thus the social norms assigned to people according to gender classification. The concept of gender is discriminatory in contemporary society; Le Giun asserts that the contemporary world deserves a culture without sexually defined roles (Le Guin 67-74).
The book presents several levels of fear as manifested by the different characters. The most poignant levels depicted in The Left Hand of Darkness are fear of letting go in which people focus on doing things the old way just to be safe; self doubt in which people are not sure of themselves and as such fear criticism that may result from their actions; normalcy which is the fear of being different, which makes people stick to conventional ways of thinking and doing things (Le Guin 56-78). The most striking fear developed is the fear of the aspect of gender in another person. This is illustrated by the case of Estraven who is afraid of Ai because of his otherness.
If I was a director of a film adaptation of The Left Hand of Darkness, I would cast Genly Ai, Estraven, and Argaven XV in the leading roles since they are the main characters that influence the development of the plot, characters and themes. The parts of the novel that would have to be included are the parts which show the main theme of otherness, such as the conflict between the planets and the conflict between Estraven and Ai over his androgyny. I would film these sections in cold weather as this is important in bringing out the differences between the characters and the two worlds and the way the setting determines how they respond to each other. I believe this adaptation would be well received since it tackles a contemporary issue of equality and oneness of the human family against similar struggles.
The end of the novel which sees Genly Ai going to see Estraven’s son is an embodiment of hope. Genly Ai goes to see Estraven’s son in order to explain to his family that Estraven had died for a good cause and was not a traitor but was simply fighting for his principles. Estraven’s son embodies the hope for human progress towards acceptance of each other as he asks Genly Ai to teach him of other worlds and the kind of life he has experienced (Le Guin 156-167). The theme of hope thus represents the human nature of progress.