Dystopian Visions An imaginative society consisting of oppressive squalor in which all are heavily restricted by the absolute superiority of the ruling party. A society where repression and restrictions seem boundless, while the individual liberty of the citizen seems boundlessly obstructed. A society where mental deprivation and deception is the goal of the guardian; a society where misery and poverty are thrust upon the unsuspectingly loyal citizens; a society where the well- being of the people are of imperceptible acknowledgement, yet its inhabitants have been manipulated into perceiving such as utopian.
Contrary to their deceit induced perceptions, these characteristics are quite the opposite of utopian, they are dystopian! Many authors portray their own vision of a dystopia through novels. Two highly intriguing dystopian novels are George Orwell’s, “1984,” and Ray Bradbury’s, “Fahrenheit 451. ” Their visions were strikingly similar as the themes were both based on totalitarian governments maintaining control through propaganda and mental/social deprivation (mostly corporate and bureaucratic controls, although technological control was utilized).
The protagonists find themselves in almost identical situations, for they have become enlightened of the misery, sacrifice, and evil that their society possesses. But they must conceal their knowledge, leaving them trapped, although they could not keep it hidden forever. In both novels came the mental sheltering of the society to thwart contradicting or rebellious thought that would come with the enlightenment of the sacrifices the society was withstanding. This social and mental control would render the majority of society incapable of independent thought, allowing the injustices to proceed.
Forced ignorance masked the evil the government had laid upon them and if one were to unveil the ignorance, they had to conceal it with their lives. In both novels, those who could not shield their enlightenment would fall victim to the strong and cunning police forces of the society. These forces would brutally murder and vanquish the existence of those free of the government’s mental sanitation. As shown by the “thought police” in “1984”. This shows the extent to which the extinction of information and individuality was pursued.
Another shared characteristic, although much more obvious in “1984,” is the use of propaganda in manipulating the people. In ‘Fahrenheit 451,” the propaganda came in the form of death. They would publically kill those who disobeyed, just as you see in the end of movie when they murder “Montag”. In “1984,” the society was infested with “Big Brother” propaganda. With posters, “Two Minutes Hate”, inflated numbers, and constant reassurance of “Big Brother” being the flawless and great protector of everyone, they deceived the people. I would like to point out the fact that they didn’t share the same figurehead type worship.
In “1984,” everything and everyone was focused and revolved around “Big Brother”, whereas in “Fahrenheit 451,” there wasn’t as much as the singular idol to worship and direct praise towards. These societies painted by Bradbury and Orwell both utilized mental and social hindrance, through strong regulations. This type of control is otherwise known as the bureaucratic control. In “Fahrenheit 451” they put heavy restrictions on literature, and would incinerate all books they could locate. In “1984,” they were absolutely relentless with their regulations, even the wrong facial expression could get you killed.
Corporate control was also highly utilized in these societies. Specifically, they would brainwash you as a daily routine called “Two Minutes Hate” in the, “1984,” novel. Here is an example of the Two Minute Hate’s effect on the people, “a desire to kill, to torture, to smash faces in with a sledge hammer, seemed to flow through the whole group of people like an electric current…” (Orwell14). The government successfully manipulated the inhabitants into loving and feeling completely dependent to “Big Brother” and the government, while completely despising whoever “Big Brother” portrayed as the enemy. Big Brother” altered everything to make him seem absolutely flawless and created a false sense of superior and improving living conditions. All of this advertising and false media was not unique to, “1984,” though. In “Fahrenheit 451,” the government would use the media to show the deaths of those who broke regulations in place. Technological control was a third control used, as Telescreen monitors were implanted everywhere in “1984,” to ensure complete surveillance to avoid any risk of conspiracies or deviation from their norms.
In “Fahrenheit 451,” they had robotic dogs that could sniff out and locate any human needed. The protagonists in these novels, Montag and Winston, are both unique to their society for they had the power to unveil the mask of ignorance and be enlightened to the true colors of the society they lived in. They both felt trapped and desperately needed to escape or alter their society. The differences between them and the others are made even more apparent by their wives and how they end up feeling about them. Winston mentally nicknamed his wife, “the human sound track,” (Orwell66) during their relationship.
This being very similar to Montag’s feeling towards his bland and uninteresting wife as well. They both are overwhelmed by the now painfully visible misery and evil their society consists of, but must protect such thoughts with their lives. A significant difference between the two characters is the fact that Guy Montag was successful with his attempt to better society, for his city was destroyed leaving it up to him and some others to rebuild society. This unlike Winston, who was captured, tortured, and then allowed back into society with a new conformist attitude.
These novels are criticizing the paths and patterns that human governments tend to take. With governments concealing/censoring information from the people and corruption being so widespread and apparent; these authors are presenting a possible outcome of our chronic blunder. Orwell was even directly criticizing the rule of Stalin in his day and how horrible such a society is and can be. These societies reflect the negatives of our society in a bloated and extreme way and if these relevant evils are not eliminated, our society is at risk of being reduced to a dreaded dystopia.
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