Week 15

Dystopia is a type of fictional society in which the world has become an oppressive and unpleasant place, characterized by extreme authoritarianism, totalitarianism, or other oppressive social conditions, typically featuring environmental disaster, war, or other forms of societal collapse.

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood is a prime example of a dystopian society where women are treated as second-class citizens, stripped of their basic human rights, and forced into reproductive slavery. The story takes place in a theocratic state called Gilead, formerly known as the United States, where women are not allowed to read, write or own property. The state controls every aspect of their lives, and they are reduced to nothing more than their reproductive abilities. They are assigned to families to bear children for wealthy, infertile couples, and their value is solely based on their ability to produce offspring. The book paints a vivid picture of a society where women have no autonomy and are reduced to mere vessels for reproduction.

Similarly, the Hobbesian Jungle is a dystopian society characterized by lawlessness, violence, and the absence of any form of government. It is a state of nature where individuals are free to pursue their own self-interests without any regard for the well-being of others. This type of society is described in Thomas Hobbes’ Leviathan, where he argues that without a strong central government to keep people in check, life would be “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short.” In this type of society, people are forced to rely on their own wits and strength to survive, and they must be constantly vigilant to protect themselves from harm.

In both of these examples, the dystopian society is characterized by extreme forms of oppression, whether it be through the subjugation of women or the absence of any form of government. These societies are marked by a lack of individual freedom and the inability of people to live their lives in a way that is meaningful and fulfilling. They represent a warning about the dangers of unchecked power and the importance of protecting individual liberties.

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