When I hear the word dystopia, I imagine an insidious controlled environment, created by people in power, that seems quite normal but upon closer inspection the people are oppressed and treated inhumanely.
When I say this, I believe that it is NOT a dystopia for EVERYONE, rather I believe that those in power chose to act immorally and selfishly to create an environment befitting for them but is a “bad place” for everyone else. Out of all the dystopian novels I read, the most notable one would be Brave New World by Aldous Huxley. Although it was supposed to represent a utopia for those in its society, it ended up being a dystopia for those not willing to conform to its standards. This was a perfect place for Lenina who grew up in the society but for the “savage” John, it was anything but. John had different views of what his utopia would be, and so this brave, new world ended up becoming his dystopia. In more modern movies and books, I feel that the idea of a dystopia focuses on controlled environment (novels/movies like Divergent, The Hunger Games, The Selection, The Maze Runner, etc.) and how the main character feels that the people in power are not acknowledging those that are different (themselves) and so they are treated unfairly and almost always oppressed. This was also present in Brave, New World.
A dystopia is usually present with its counterpart–utopia. I made this realization after reading what I had written above and also from my classmates. In the examples I previously gave, the dystopia was in the perspective of the main character and allies made along their journey. These “dystopian” societies emerged from the people in power trying to fix their post-apocalyptic society. What they found to be the solution worked–to a certain degree. It was the “perfect” solution for them–perhaps maybe even the majority–but there will always be those who do not feel that way. There would never a singular dystopia for everyone, and conversely a singular utopia for everyone. So I agree with the dictionary definition that it is IMAGINARY also.