Revamped Definition of a DYSTOPIA

A dystopia is a state of living where individuals are subjugated under a higher authority leading to intense despair and anarchy due to injustices and disharmony faced amongst society.

In a society that is under the authority of a higher entity, injustice is often perpetrated by members at the top of the hierarchy. The injustices can be in any sector of life whether it is social, political, or economical. When these injustices occur, those who are targeted are often put into a position of inferiority. Their daily lives are then affected which is a key aspect of what a dystopia is considered. For example, in The Handmaid’s Tale, the handmaids’ lives are permanently altered due to the government forcing societal standards on them. This caused the handmaids to be in cycle of exploitation of their bodies where they had no autonomy. In this situation, Iris Young’s Five Faces of Oppression is observed significantly. Two faces of oppression that is constantly observed in The Handmaid’s Tale and in all dystopias is exploitation and powerlessness. The powerlessness is a direct consequence of one being subjugated by a higher authority. This often leads to an abuse of power which leads to the exploitation of those individuals. This exploitation can be seen in many different ways, but in all dystopias, the groups being exploited are starved of either resources or autonomy.

To further expand on my refined definition of a dystopia, a state of anarchy perpetuates itself in a dystopia. For example, in the novel, Brown Girl in the Ring, the individuals of that society are forced to fend for themselves leading to a competition for resources and opportunities. This concept is explained clearly in Thomas Hobbes writing Leviathan. In this writing, Hobbes explicates how when humans are lacking a central authority, a state of chaos is often observed due to the natural tendency of men to compete against one another. As a result, in a dystopia, when anarchy is witnessed chaos is a direct effect. This is seen in Brown Girl in the Ring when those in the city are left with no governmental entity to provide a structure. It is interesting to note that when there is no higher authority to lead a society, chaos is often seen taking place; however, when a higher authority is established, injustices are often a direct effect.

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