The Definition of a Dystopia

A dystopia is an undesirable society that consists of the worst possible living conditions that functions based off of fear and oppression. Dystopias are typically the opposite of utopias in all aspects. They emphasize the worst possible outcomes of a society while a utopia emphasizes the best and most favorable outcomes a society could have. In Kim Stanley Robinson’s essay “Dystopias Now”, she described a dystopia as “some kind of call for revolutionary change.” This is often shown in dystopian movies. Almost every dystopian film contains a message that serves as a warning for the audience as an attempt to bring awareness to a current issue.      

Although the definition of a dystopia seems very simple, it is actually very complex. There are several factors that make up a dystopia. One distinguishing feature that I have learned while taking this class was the fact that apocalyptic societies are not dystopias. This is a common misunderstanding. Apocalyptic societies are not dystopias because these events are completely fictional and least likely to actually occur in our current society. Another distinguishing feature of a dystopia is the amount of conflict that occurs in the presence of a totalitarian government. Dystopian societies are based on oppression and fear. In “Chapter XIII from Leviathan” by Thomas Hobbes, he stated that “the time men live without a common power to keep them all in awe, they are in that condition, which is called war, and such a war as is of every man against every man.” This type of control can manifest in various forms, such as surveillance, propaganda, or strict regulations. 

Overall, dystopias serve as cautionary tales that warns people to observe their current societies to see where change needs to take place. This is also one of the reasons why we see more examples of dystopias than utopias. It is easier to describe the worst possible outcomes of a society due to all of the fears that most people have. It is hard to portray utopias due to vast amount of different opinions of what a perfect society looks like. 

Bookmark the permalink.

Comments are closed.