30th May, 2018.
To begin with, the dystopian genre has to be classified as one of the very popular genre ‘s in the present world today, regarding how it is able to disclose and make us aware of what is silently going on in our societies today. The term “dystopia” can be described as a place where a totalitarian government is enforced, people are under surveillance, and are assigned levels based on their capabilities. According to the Merriam Webster Encylopedia of Literature, a dystopia is defined to be ” an imaginary place where people are dehumanized and often fearful lives.” Likewise, a prevalent contrast to the term ” dystopia” is known as “Utopia”. Utopia, when translated into Greek, is categorized as a ” good place” or ” no place”. It is a society that is ideally perfect, peaceful, free from poverty, regulation, dictatorship and people are free to exercise their rights. The dystopian genre first emerged dating as far back as the 19th century and was used as a way of criticizing both the issues of communism and slavery. It also came into existence after the events of the Enlightenment and French Revolution, as it was in response to the supposed struggle for the maintenance of a Utopian society in that time. The genre did not become well known in the young adult genre until 1993, when a famous writer, Lois Lowry released his own first book. Eventually, after the year 1993, the dystopian genre became mainly aimed at young adult readership instead. Today, the dystopian genre is very popular for it is able to reflect not only the reality but also an ideology, science and technology, including various political systems. In addition, the dystopia is a popular literary genre that entertains its readers and educates them to enable them to realize the type of society they dwell in. It also serves as a means of warning to mankind to help prevent the occurrence of disastrous events that could put the world we live in into great trouble and allow historical mistakes to be continuously repeated.
Similarly, the dystopian genre has varieties of novels that has been published from the early years, till date that has been able to describe a proper illusion of Utopian society which has made it a preferred choice for many readers. The first dystopian novel that ever came into existence was titled “The time machine”, by H.G Wells and was published in the year 1895. It was a very popular novel throughout the 1800’s and was able to showcase a destructive nature of a stratified society. Another very renowned dystopian novel in the early years was “We”, which was written by Yevgeni Zamyatin. The novel describes the satire about life events in a futuristic state, by creating a place called ” One state” which was located in the middle of a jungle. The people of the state are made to live in glass buildings, have names based on numbers and wear identical uniforms. The antagonist in the novel are the ” Benefactors” with the help of the “Guardians” that regulate the lives of the people in the ” One state” to take part in great operations that would prevent them from having imaginations and passion for anything. Also, in the early days another very popular dystopian novel was the Gulliver’s Travels written by Jonathan Swift, who was known for his great works, including other dystopian stories written by him. The novel was published in 1726 and as time went on a film adaptation of the novel was released. The novel talks about an English man, by the name Gulliver, who becomes a sailor after his career as a surgeon is unsuccessful. He hopes only to join a colony and comes across particular groups of people called the Lilliputians and the Giants. At the end of the novel, he questions colonialism and takes time to reflect on his previous journeys. Additionally, in 1938 another renowned novel came into existence after the Gulliver’s travels and was titled “Anthem” by Ayn Rand. The setting of the story is not really identified, but it is easy to tell that it took place in the ancient days. The protagonist goes by the name Equality, and was against the ways of the Council that served as the antagonist in the novel. The Council bans the use of such words like the use of ” me” and ” I” and frowns at any form of individualism and is regulated by the instructions from the Council. Likewise, Equality is eager to express himself and decides to create what he called a light bulb. Eventually, after he is sent away by the Council for taking the risk of expressing himself, he does not get rid of his invention and decides to flee from the city, with his girlfriend to start off their own lives in the woods. Other very popular dystopian novels in the early days include The Brave New World by Aldous Huxley (1998), Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess (1995), The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood ( 1998), The Running Man by Stephen King (1999) , Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury ( 1996 ) e.t.c. These books in one way or the other has been able to make a major impact in our world today.
Hence, according to Webster Merriam dictionary convention can be defined as ” a custom or a way of acting or doing things that are widely accepted and followed or a common style often used in literature, theatre, or art to create a particular effect.” Furthermore, in a dystopian genre, under its conventions, there are three main characters which include the protagonist, antagonist, secondary character and a figurehead. The protagonist often feels trapped, disagrees with the happenings of his/her society, questions the existing political system and communicates to the audience concerning the negative aspects of a dystopian world. Also, in a dystopia ” the society itself is typically the antagonist and is actively working against the protagonist aims and desires.” (Adams ). While the secondary character represents the rest of the society who are never allowed to question the political and social structures of the society where they are forced to abide by certain rules and regulations. Likewise, a figurehead is a person or a figure that the people of the society are obligated to worship. The major themes in a dystopian genre include oppression and rebellion which helps to give the audience a deep understanding of the type of genre that is being reviewed. As a matter of fact, stories related to the dystopian genre discuss mainly events such as war, revolutions, overpopulation, as well as other disasters. Also, the setting of such dystopian genres( or stories) mostly takes place in destroyed deserted large cities. Similarly, the plot emphasizes the sense of powerlessness of individuals when surrounded by an oppressive government and the citizens fear of being monitored, betrayed or manipulated. It also shows how propaganda is used to control the citizens and how their emotions are extinct.
In conclusion, the dystopian genre was very known to be very popular during the 1800’s and the 1900’s during the times of Aldous Huxley, Yevgeni Zamyatin and Jonathan Swift. The genre is able to not only able to give us an insight into the future but is able to inform us about the harm that could be done if we do not identify such dystopian occurrences in our societies and decide today to speak and make a difference before it is too late. For our current state in the world, today is heading towards a complete dystopian society.