Defining Dystopia

I’m pretty sure every adult, at some point in their lives, has heard of the word “dystopia.” Whether it be in a middle school English class, a new movie that just came out, or an article they came across online. The first time I heard of the word was in elementary school when my class was given a reading assignment for The Giver. In my teacher’s description of the story, he used the word utopia which I was unfamiliar with at such a young age. So naturally I looked up the definition and it led me to it’s antonym dystopia. After reading the book and watching the movie I gathered my own definition of the word to be: an unpleasant, imagined state of society bound by a great deal of suffering and misery.

I chose to use the term imagined because dystopias are often fictional when they are written about in books and movies. However, just because they are imagined doesn’t mean the idea doesn’t stem from aspects of life that are real. For example, in The Giver the government controls everything in the communities, much like the idea of a totalitarian government. I also use the words suffering and misery because that is often what the people of dystopian societies endure. In the anime Attack on Titan (which I’ve only just began watching recently), the citizens are struck with a horrifying reality when these large people-eating creatures called Titans break through the walls of their civilization and terrorize their lives. The people of this society are now living in fear for their lives while also dealing with scarcity of food and resources. On the brink of extinction, this manga is a great example of a dystopia.

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