One of the most intriguing questions that Neuromancer implicitly invites the audience to ask is: What does it mean to be free? What impact do technological advancement and increased interaction with the “cyber world” have on our definition of freedom? Gibson insinuates that the notion of freedom extends far beyond the tangibility of one’s human body. Moreover, as society continues to integrate the abstract “realities” of cyberspace with the natural world, and as technological advancements burden us with new sources of confinement, true freedom becomes more and more elusive.
The Oxford Dictionary has several definitions for the word case , including ” an instance of a disease or problem”, and ” a container designed to hold and protect something”. Ironically enough, Case – Neuromancer’s protagonist- seems to view his body in this light. After he was poisoned with mycotoxins that affected his nervous system, he transitions from having a “contempt for the flesh” , to feeling imprisoned and entrapped in his physical body, and therefore, unable to find true freedom in the cyberworld like he used to. The incident seems to be more psychologically damaging than physically, and that it is his own conscious that is truly hindering him from experiencing freedom. Even after his body is repaired, he is still being confined externally by those around him in and out of cyberspace, and internally. He is also not able to break his fleshly drug habit, despite having the physical means of doing so. Another striking example of this narrative on freedom is when Case says, “None of this was real, but cold was cold”. His psychological response to the pseudo-reality of cyberspace transcends his physical inability to experience the cold. The virtual aspect of his existence – at once a source of escape – becomes a place of entrapment and confinement when Case is under the influence of Wintermute.