Dystopia Defined

“An imaginary or real place whose people may lead a restricted and oppressive existence under some form of authority” is the definition that the class left off with on Thursday. I find it interesting how we deviated so much from the original definition: “an imaginary place which is depressingly wretched and whose people lead a fearful existence.” Although the original definition describes the word dystopia, I do not believe that it completely captures the whole meaning of the word. Earlier in class, someone mentioned how it is redundant to use the word ‘oppressive’ and ‘under some form of authority’ together, which I completely agree with. A better definition would be to omit ‘oppressive’ so that the definition would read: “an imaginary or real place whose people may lead a restricted existence under some form of authority.” I also feel like ‘restricted existence’ can be interpreted in many ways. The first way that comes to mind is that the people’s lifespan is actually restricted or limited for reasons that are in the hands of someone else. While this may be true, it is not the right fit for this definition. The next change that I would make is to replace ‘restricted’ with ‘ignorant’ because ignorant implies that the people are unaware of something crucial or beneficial to their existence. The definition would say, “an imaginary or real place whose people may lead an ignorant existence under some form of authority.”

This new definition made me think about how, in certain dystopian societies, the people are aware of their bad conditions; therefore, ‘ignorant’ should not be the only term to describe their existence. I believe that adding ‘depressing’ would imply that the oppressed people living in the dystopian society could be unhappy. The definition would be “an imaginary or real place whose people may lead a depressing or ignorant existence under some form of authority” to imply that the people are either depressed or ignorant of the terrible conditions that they face. Lastly, I believe that a dystopian society does not have to be restricted solely by authority or the government, but instead, by oppression in general. The definition would state: “an imaginary or real place whose people may lead a depressing or ignorant existence under some form of oppression.” I believe that these small changes to the definition create the optimal meaning of a dystopian society because it captures the complete essence of the word.

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