All posts tagged fears

Dystopias, as a genre, contain a huge amount of content. They consider all that is in a society, and pushes them to the extreme. A dystopia represents a stratified socio-political state that exercises total (or near-total) control at the price of their subjects’ individual rights, and uses deceptive appeals in the form of slogans and propaganda to maintain order according to a corruptive governing doctrine.

(1) Organized Division

The atmosphere of a dystopian world is characterized by the presence of a caste or divisive mandate.  In the Divergent series, we see that to maintain order and control, hope is only placed on the “ones that know” and have a place in society. We witness a division of friends and even family members, based on character and individual qualities, into four groups that accentuate an individuals primary trait (knowledge, bravery, selflessness, honesty, kindness). This separating and hierarchical influence is also established in the in-class text The Hunger Games in which Panem is divided into 12 districts that have distinct cultures, customs, and commodities, while only interacting with one another through the televised bloodshed between their tributes.  Both texts show how divisive measures are placed on the populaces in efforts to maintain order, and, in other ways, limit communication.

The 12 Districts of Panem illustrating dystopian division. (http://mysims3blog.blogspot.com/2013/02/districts-of-panem-by-beaverhausen.html)

(2) Control

Dystopias are NOT societies run per the govern. These are communities that have essentially given up on human nature, and therefore do not trust the decisions made by their citizens. In dystopias, this control is presented as security and protection from the unpredictable flaws of human nature. This heavy hand has its grasp on every facet of an individual’s interactions. Individual rights do not exist in a dystopian society, and if they do, they are limited or an item of deception. Dystopian control also extends further to surveillance and forced uniformity. In dystopian text like  The Giver, everyone is denied knowledge, sexual relationship, and even to see visual color. This “sameness” illustrates the control that is relinquished by the individual to the “betterment” of a society.

Quote from The Giver on the topic of “sameness”. (http://www.azquotes.com/quote/503944)

(3) Doctrines and Deception

Dystopias are also a socio-political entity, and are run by a governing doctrine. Looking through the eyes of a radical socialist, one would see many similarities. Dystopias often thrive on exaggeration. A slogan is often the core of the verbiage within these society doubling as the source of deception. These doctrines and mandate are usually contradictory to their method of execution. For example, in The Hunger Games, in efforts to maintain peace, the Capital established violent gladiatorial combat between teenagers while simultaneously pinning the 12 districts against one another. Even looking at a classic dystopian text like 1984, we are presented with a term called “double think” which is the act of holding two contradictory opinions at once and simultaneously believing in both of them, which is said to be a talent every Party member was required to possess.

1984 Party Slogan (http://s192.photobucket.com/user/Lucky13_Albums/media/1984_by_hybrid17e.jpg.html)

These are just three core principle that go into defining a dystopia, but there are many more. Dystopias are fluid concepts, and, depending on what is exaggerated, can appear in many different forms.


Work Cited (Books):

  • Collins, Suzanne. The Hunger Games. New York: Scholastic Press, 2008. Print.
  • Lowry, Lois. The Giver.Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 1993.
  • Roth, Veronica. Divergent.HarperCollins, 2011.
  • Orwell, Georgia. 1984.Harvill Secker.1949

After reading several chapters of The Cambridge Companion to Utopian Literature, I am fairly familiar with the common definition of “Dystopia”. However, I find that my definition of Dystopia might be different from that of someone else. In my lifetime, I feel that I’ve seen and heard a good bit about what dystopias are, whether its been through reading, or through seeing movies and TV Shows. I’d say that dystopia defines a futuristic place where common fears come alive and life is not good. I think dystopias are the embodiment of our current human fears, whether it may be the concepts and ideas that arise in 1984 or those that appear in The Hunger Games. I think that in this modern day and age, with all of the technology that we have and all of the bad things that keep happening around the world, people have particular fears about what the future is to bring.

The Walking Dead. N.d. TV Guide. The Walking Dead. Web. 22 Jan. 2017.

For example, my father, having grown up and recognizing all that technology has brought upon the human race, is fearful that technology and robots might take over the world someday. While I, on the other hand, have grown up with technology always by my side, have little to no fear that that might happen. I believe that different generations of the human race have different definitions of dystopias because I think that each generation has a fairly common fear of what the future is to bring. Another common dystopia theme of this day and age is the zombie apocalypse theme. While it seems highly unrealistic, people seem to fear that one day, some sickness (something like Zika for example) is going to overtake the entire human race except for some tiny percent that will survive the disease and will have to learn to live in the world without 99% of the current human population. This is one of the reasons why combining dystopia with Young Adult literature changes the genre quite a bit. It changes things because the young adults of this era worry about different things than the young adults of the 1990s. This allows for authors to focus in on the particular fears of this generation and this era when writing dystopian novels. Ultimately, everyone has different definitions of dystopia; but altogether, I’d say that dystopia is the embodiment of our worst fears for what might come in the future.