Rebecca Carol and Noel Totaro question what it means to be a utopia in their insightful article detailing suffering within supposed utopias. The authors begin their introduction by questioning the idea of an ideal society and what it means to be a utopia. They continue with analysis of various famous texts, many of which carry important literary significance in today’s culture. These include novels from Rowling’s Harry Potter to Lois Lowry’s The Giver. They then analyze how the utopias within each novel cause the protagonist (as well as others) significant levels of suffering; after discussing these themes in detail, the authors go on to state comparisons between the manuscripts and to identify how the authors meant to educate their readers on utopian theory in an entertaining fashion. Specifically, the author asserts that any steps towards betterment of society are slow and lengthy, and that utopian suffering can lead to change in the real world.
This chapter of Utopian and Dystopian Writing for Children and Young Adults offers an intriguing depiction of how utopian suffering can be used to motivate young adult readers to improve their own societies. The emphasis of many lengthy steps is important to note as many young adult dystopias illustrate such methods towards societal betterment or escape from society.
This source is important because it begins the discussion towards the idea that utopias are, in themselves, merely fiction. What is also helpful about this source is that it specifies how suffering within utopias can be used to influence young adults. This is interesting to note in how suffering in utopias can be compared to dystopias overall, and can be used in a number of researches besides my own. Specifically, those that discuss how to captivate young adult audiences and how mental trauma can affect juveniles.
Carol, Rebecca, and Totaro, Noel. “Suffering in Utopia: Testing the Limits in Young Adult
Novels.” Utopian and Dystopian Writing for Children and Young Adults, v. 29, Routledge, 2003, pp.127-138