A dystopian piece of literature grants the readers a vision of the future. In the general description, dystopias are societies in the deep of any calamitous decline. The character that graces the dystopian fiction is mostly up against technological control, oppression from their government, and environmental decline and disasters, among many other contexts. The issues covered in most dystopian fiction are meant to incept new thinking modalities and new perspectives over specific matters on individuals. The current social and political situations can also be reconsidered in the face of dystopian fiction works. Normally, the situation in most dystopian fiction is frightening as well as dehumanizing.
Contrary to utopia (a perfect society), dystopian societies, as depicted in the dystopian fictions, aim at exploring and construing the dangerous consequences that political and social structures hold on the future of humanity. Among many other vital aspects of the dystopian significance, the fiction may communicate and reveal the author’s beliefs. On top of this, dystopian fiction can be utilized to convey satirical critiques and warn and educate people on various topics. Dystopian fiction may also fall into five recognizable and accepted categories. These include government control, survival, technological control, environmental destruction, and loss of individualism. This write-up aims at proving how and why George Orwell’s 1984 is a dystopian novel.
The novel 1984 is a dystopian fiction that is based on government control. The world, as per this timing and novel, is under complete government control. The citizens are living in three intercontinental super states after a world war brews over. The fictional dictator Big Brother has complete control over the subjects, characterized by his omnipresent surveillance directed over the three super-states (Heehs et al., 17). The main aim of the novel is to convey the idea that the utopian dream was impossible, and this was made possible through the inherent actions, behaviors, and associations as shown in the novel.
To create an ideal dystopian setting, George Orwell throws a shadow over the tenets of the utopian society through the illustrations on how it runs against human instincts such as aesthetics, sex, food, and pleasure. In the novel, the main protagonist character Winston exhibits glimpses of greedy and selfish acts. The selfish actions are mainly attributed to the fear and the intimidation that he faces from Big Brother. The fear to stand up against the vices of the big brother aid in extrapolating the dystopian notion and effects. The dystopian fear instilled by the rule of Big Brother plays a significant role in bringing the worst out of people, Winston. To illustrate the grip of the dystopian control, Big Brother uses this provision to manipulate people such as Winston at the points of their weaknesses.
Dystopian fictions normally work in prefiguration, carefully backtracking from the very present settings that the literature is set into the earlier times (Syslová 18). This device aims to show the extent of the societal decline and find the reason and offer the explanation for that in the progressing sections of the work. On top of this, dystopian fictions employ this skill to act as a commentary to the reader’s societies and offer a future prediction. This dystopian tactic is employed extensively by George Orwell through the grains of the past that help explains how Winston’s society turned out to be the way it was under Big Brother. Before the Party, Winston is dedicated to acquire the objects that existed in the pre-war era and recover the memories in them. This offers a strong proposition that aligns 1984 with dystopian principles.
The oppression and totalitarian high-handedness from Big Brother douses the characters in the book in political oppression, the barrier to free speech, wars, and government surveillance. The omnipresent-like surveillance of a Big Brother on the three super-states makes it impossible for characters like Winston to achieve any form of liberty and freedom. Just like the ideal dystopian governments, the citizens and characters under the rule are grappling with bomb explosions, food shortages, and a crumbling society that breeds broken citizens (Perry et al., 10). The government inherently implements its rule and oppression through oppression and non-hesitancy to crush the buds of the dreams and the aspirations of the characters. The dystopian vision of the novel agrees that man’s inherent nature is all corrupt and repressive.
Nevertheless, dystopian fictions normally take into account the effects that result from the oppression of the characters on the individuals themselves as well as the functioning of such individuals in the society. The effect of totalitarianism on the psyche of the individual extends to the way the individuals act and thus contribute to society. In the novel 1984, Winston is seen having struggles with his memory retrieval as well as trusting the retrieved memories. The reason that breeds this effect is due to the influence that the Party has had on his emotional life as well as his very existence. This realization in dystopian literature is utilized to aid the reader in questioning the nature of the memory and the consciousness of Winston (Webb et al., 2). The novel nevertheless illustrates the importance of memory in creating and incepting a sense of self in dystopian fiction. Winston is illustrated as complacent as he cannot recall the disparities that stood between the pro-revolution and the life after the revolution.
As most dystopian fiction, 1984 holds various tenets of technological and future civilizations aspects. The science fiction in the novel is illustrated through a relatively familiar timeline. Instead of the distant planets and exotic places, George Orwell places the frightening future in a fairly familiar London, without much differences in terms of technology from the existing one. In this kind of future, as depicted by the novel, the typewriters have bane replaced dictation machines (Mohammed et al., 18). In addition to this, the television sets have been replaced with more flat screens permanently mounted onto walls. In spite of the efforts to convey a frightening futuristic London, the technologies described in the novel do not vary in much detail from the technologies present during the time of the novel (the late 40s). On top of this, Orwell predicts a future where helicopters will be utilized in spying on citizens, which in general anticipate the surveillance drones. All these represent the dystopian nature of oppression.
The rule of Big Brother is based on corruption, intimidation, and oppression. Winston works in the Ministry of Truth that the government of Big Brother is dedicated to redefine and eliminate. Winston spends his working days in the Ministry of Truth editing and adjusting the truth and history to fit in perspective and the wants of the government. He has to adhere to making the necessary changes as tailored by the government, even if they have to be on a daily basis (Alghamdi et al., 11). The government then proceeds to rule through propaganda, and the utilization of the Thought Police emancipates this through killing the individuality and independent thinking of the workers like Winston as well as everyone else. The arrest of Winston in the novel and he is starved and tortured. This oppressive act was meant to ‘restore sanity as well as change his thoughts so as to be in line with the requirements and the philosophy of the Party.
In summary, the novel 1984 by Orwell thrives in a world full of technological advancements which are used by the oppressive regime to manipulate and control its subjects and individuals. This involves zero hesitancy to go to great extremes of oppression to make sure that everyone has conformed to the orthodox political conditions created. The oppression and terror are the direct opposite of the utopian society. This is specifically aimed at enlightening the readers on the consequential effects of some aspects of political philosophies as well as the shortcomings of human nature. The dystopia created by Orwell in the novel 1984 represents a society where all the positive feelings are trashed and the human conditions replaced with misery, repression, and constant fear (Perry et al., 17). The society in the 1984 novel is on a decline, with the totalitarian rule of Big Brother creating innumerable inequalities in the society. On top of this, the society restricts people from independent thoughts, contains grains of extreme equality, as well as oppressiveness, prove that the novel is dystopian fiction.
In conclusion, the numerous instances of dystopian glimpses in the novel 1984 by George Orwell all indicate and prove the probe that the book is dystopian fiction. Held by the oppressive talons of the government and policies, the society depicted in the novel wanders miles upon miles away from the utopian paradise of government.
Alghamdi, Turki. “The Dystopian Impulse and Media Consumption: Redefining Utopia Via the Narrative Economics of the New Media Age.” (2021).
Heehs, Peter. “Utopias and Dystopias in Literature and Life.” Roots, Routes and a New Awakening: Beyond One and Many and Alternative Planetary Futures (2021): 287-307.
Mohammed, Abazar Mohammed Nugdallah, and Elsadig Ali Elsadig Elnadeef. “The Effectiveness of Intercultural Communication in Comprehending the Short Story-Shooting an Elephant by George Orwell.” Middle East Journal of Applied Science & Technology 4.1 (2021): 144-154.
Perry, Hazel. “Four Futures: Life after Capitalism by Peter Frase.” Utopian Studies 32.1 (2021): 124-127.
Syslová, Hana. “Dystopian Elements in Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas.”
Webb, Richard E., and Philip J. Rosenbaum. “Tribalism: Where George Orwell leads us and where an understanding of existential–relational positions extends us.” Theory & Psychology (2021): 0959354321998776.