What is a Dystopia?

A dystopia is a fictional society under a totalitarian government in which most people are forced to conform and live dehumanizing, segregated, manipulated, and oppressed lives. These types of societies serve as an overwhelming warning of our awaited future if we do not change how we do things or blindly allow those in power to make decisions for us. This past semester we have read a lot of material that supports this definition. For example, in The Handmaid’s Tale, the women are the main subjects of abuse and are forced to give up anything that would allow their individualism to surface such as reading, jobs, and even their clothes. People are also given different ranks in their society, allowing those in higher power, the men, to take advantage of the women and keep them in check. The people in this society face powerlessness, one of Iris Young’s faces of oppression, as they are forced to follow norms established by their fearful government. Iris Young claimed that oppression can have five different faces which we may or may not be aware of. Another example that fits this definition is The Giver in which all human individuality and emotion are erased by the government to create sameness and an ideal society, by taking away the citizen’s choice. Due to the manipulation of the people’s memory and minds, they are forced to feel content with their way of living because they are unaware of what they were robbed of. In Animal Farm this manipulation is also seen with the pigs’ use of propaganda and manipulation of language to trick the other animals into accepting those in power. Napoleon also instilled fear to maintain his position despite his injustices and alterations to the original laws followed by the animals, to fit his needs. dystopias tend to be warnings of a possible future, but as author Robinson stated, they also tend to make us feel grateful that our current lives are nowhere as harsh or dehumanizing as those presented in dystopian literature. So it’s our best interest to stop being grateful we’re not part of novels and speak up for the injustices we see in the real world before things are just like these novels.

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