Dystopia: A society ruled unscrupulously and characterized by injustice and oppression of groups of people within that society for the ruling group’s benefit.
In Webster’s definition of dystopia, I noticed that there was no mention of oppression or injustice. Those two words are very important when defining a dystopia because this week, we learned from Iris Young that it is necessary to identify oppression in a society, in order to identify it as a dystopia. Aside from the words of Young, it can also be seen throughout Dystopian media. George Orwell’s novel, 1984, takes place in a totalitarian society that oversees the lives of all the citizens. The citizens are powerless against Big Brother, which is the ruling government. The lives of the citizens depicted by Orwell in 1984 definitely match Webster’s definition of dystopia. All the citizens of Oceania lead fearful, wretched, dehumanized lives all at the hands of Big Brother. The government in 1984 is always watching its citizens through screens that are all around them. Citizens are expected to salute Big Brother and believe any and all information that Big Brother gives to them. Any citizens, like the main character Winston, who questioned the validity of the ruling authority, were met with extreme violence to “re-educate” them to follow the leadership of Big Brother. Powerlessness is one of the five faces of oppression that stuck out to me the most because, in my opinion, it is the true defining factor of a dystopia. When the changes made by a ruling group become irreversible, it leads to a decline in the quality of life, which leads to the oppressed group becoming extremely miserable. I like to think of Stalin’s dictatorship in Russia as an example. From an outside perspective, I was always taught that the people in Russia were always miserable because they had no control over their lives and it was all because of their totalitarian leader. Whenever there were citizens that caused political or civil unrest they were met with the extreme violence of gulag camps. After looking at dystopian societies that existed in the real world and fictional ones, it is clear that oppression, injustice, and a ruling class are always involved in these societies.