Propaganda is commonly thought of as information used by governments to convince people to follow a certain cause such as the World Wars, the Vietnam War, government policies, or political agendas. Propaganda plays a key role in dystopian literature, books that revolve around this one fixated society where the rules are unbending and social expectations.
In the book Matched, the Society has constructed a perfect system to guarantee a long, satisfying life, provided you follow the rules. Cassia, the protagonist, has grown up with the same information, that the Society has replaced a failing and miserable way of life. Routines ensure maximum efficiency, Matches are made for ideal life partners, secure jobs provide comfort. in other words, there is order and peace. While at the recreational center, she and her friends watch a video of the history of Society and how it came to being. The video emphasized the horrors that the Society eliminated and how everything would collapse if the Society failed. Cassia described the video as “overdone” and “ludicrous”; the scenes are overdramatic with actors exaggerating death scenes. Her and her friends do not take the showing seriously; they know how fake it is, but they continue watching it since it is one of the few films available to them.
The Society may have removed diseases and hardships but also anything of the past. Only a hundred poems, a hundred songs, and a hundred painting were kept; it was reasoned that an excess of information causes chaos, thus all that was deemed unworthy was destroyed. Censorship is another form of propaganda, by limiting the public’s access to information sets up a biased atmosphere. The people have no choice but to trust what the Society tells them for they have no other resources. The Society has even deprived them of writing; everything is technology, ports, tablets, screens, and computers, devices easily monitored by the Officials. Writing is a form of communication, but it poses a threat as it is much more difficult to regulate. The secret poem Cassia’s given is easily disposed of, reducing the words to “ash and nothing.”
Controlling the means of communication and all history records allows for complete power over people; their citizens will believe any of the propaganda the Society feeds them, since all other sources of intelligence are nonexistent.
- Casey, Ralph D. “The Story of Propaganda”. American Historical Association. www.historians.org/about-aha-and-membership/aha-history-and-archives/gi-roundtable-series/pamphlets/what-is-propaganda/the-story-of-propaganda. Accessed 3 Feb. 2017.
- Condie, Ally. Matched. Penguin Group, 2010, New York.
- Thomas, Dylan. “Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night.”Literature and Society: An Introduction to Fiction, Poetry, Drama, Nonfiction. Pamela J. Annas and Robert C. Rosen. 4th Ed. Upper Saddle River: Prentice Hall, 2006.