Dystopias often provide a critique of our own society and it interests me what this critique is and what we, as a society, can learn from it. Obviously, our society is far from perfection and it seems the only way to make any sort of progress is to identify and examine our society’s flaws. Dystopias in general seem to propagate the idea that we must cooperate and collaborate with each other to prevent the extremities of such corrupt societies from taking shape.
My independent reading book, The Selection, follows 35 girls who compete for the love, or rather wealth, of the prince, in a series of highly-controlled, televised updates. The quest of the women is televised, and provides yet another instance of propaganda in which what is being shown is not at all like reality of the situation, but rather what those in power wish the population to believe. This contest has obvious parallels to reality TV shows popular in today’s society like The Bachelor, a highly scripted, unauthentic reality love show. The Hunger Games also provides a similar critique as the games are televised and controlled by the Capitol, similar to how reality TV today is controlled by producers and writers. In The Selection, The Hunger Games, or even in today’s society, television is not the only thing controlled, but rather its control suggests that if something so seemingly insignificant as television can be used to manipulate the population and propagate the ideas of those in power, it evokes the question of what else can they be in control of?
Though I am not a huge fan of the dystopian world set up in The Selection, an important thing it does is show the flaws in of societal structure and the division of classes. In The Selection we are introduced to a world of different castes, from 1, the royal/extremely wealthy class, to 8, the homeless, poverty-stricken. The divisions are so strict, people deemed a certain caste can only work certain jobs and hold specific roles in the society. The lower caste you are, the more likely you will not be able to feed yourself or your family. A higher equates to more wealth and therefore a greater possibility of survival. Corruption like this is often central in dystopian societies, whether at fault of the government or from utter lack of one. This corruption affects the shapes a dystopian society takes. In The Selection your worth is considered as high as your caste and it accentuates the idea there are only eight type of people in the society.
With that being said, I wonder how the class systems in novels like The Selection or The Hunger Games are affected by the dystopian societies they are part of. Do the circumstances that drove the dystopia’s creation play any role in the class system that thereafter developed? Do the class systems today in our society share any commonalities with those of such dystopias? I look to research questions much like these to better understand the classes in our own society.