The word “dystopia” comes from the Greek words dus (bad) + topos (place). It was first used by British novelist H .G Wells in his book “The Time Machine” to describe an imaginary country where everything was horrible.
Dystopia is a subgenre of speculative fiction that is written in a manner to show the worst possible future for humanity. Dystopian stories often feature oppressive societies, where those in power and their values are so different from what they ought to be that they threaten human morality and advancement, while often also exploring the idea of how they came to be that way.
Dystopian fiction has its roots in ancient Greek tragedy, which was a genre devoted to watching people struggle against external circumstances and their own flaws. The first work of dystopian fiction, however, was Thomas More’s Utopia (1516), which depicted an island society that has achieved a level of prosperity and peace so great that it makes all other countries look like a dystopia by comparison. More’s utopia was meant as a parody of the corrupt governments of his time — but he was also trying to imagine what might happen if those same governments took over every country on Earth.
What is Dystopia in Literature?
Dystopian literature has long been popular in Western culture, appearing in the works of writers such as Jonathan Swift, Aldous Huxley, George Orwell, Ray Bradbury, Ayn Rand and Margaret Atwood.
Dystopian novels have been written since the nineteenth century, with early examples including Mary Shelley’s The Last Man , Victor Hugo’s Ninety-Three , and Edward Bellamy’s Looking Backward. The genre rose to prominence in the 1950s with George Orwell’s and Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World , both of which have remained popular since their publication.
Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
The novel describes life under an oppressive government in a dystopian society where citizens are controlled by drugs and distractions like entertainment and sex.
Animal Farm by George Orwell
The novel describes how animals overthrow their farmer owners to establish equality but then become just like their former masters when they begin oppressing one another after realizing that there’s no such thing as equality among animals or between animal and human beings.
The Crucible By Arthur Miller
The setting of the play is in Salem, Massachusetts during the 17th century. The time period is important because it was a time of extreme religious persecution in America, where more than 200 people were killed for being witches.
In this play, Miller depicts a society that is so obsessed with its own beliefs and traditions that it begins to lose sight of what is right and wrong. The characters in this play are not just concerned with their own lives; they are concerned with the lives of all people in their community.
The main character, John Proctor, has an affair with Abigail Williams, who then accuses him of witchcraft so that she can save her own life.
The entire town believes Abigail’s accusations and sentences John to death by hanging along with two other men accused of witchcraft. Even though John knows he has done nothing wrong and deserves justice, he gives up his life rather than face public shame and humiliation by admitting that he has committed adultery because it would destroy his wife and children’s lives too much if they knew what had happened between him and Abigail.
Dystopia vs. utopia definition
The concept of dystopia was popularized by novelist Aldous Huxley in his novel Brave New World (1932). It was also used earlier by Yevgeny Zamyatin in his novel We (1921), which was banned by Soviet authorities because it critiqued communist values. Dystopias are often portrayed as nightmarish societies where people live in terrible conditions and have little freedom or hope for change.
Examples of Dystopias: Katniss Everdeen lives in a futuristic North America where every year young people must participate in The Hunger Games, which pits them against each other until only one remains alive. The Giver: Jonas lives in “Community
In contrast, utopias are often portrayed as ideal places where everyone has everything they need and life is perfect.
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