- Term Papers and Free Essays

Dystopian Society -Compare & Contrast Brave New World And 1984

Essay by   •  January 5, 2011  •  1,900 Words (8 Pages)  •  4,052 Views

Essay Preview: Dystopian Society -Compare & Contrast Brave New World And 1984

Report this essay
Page 1 of 8

Dystopian Society

Different societies have risen and fallen in the continual search for the “perfect” society. The definition of this utopia is in constant flux due to changing times and cultural values. Many works of literature have been written describing a utopian society and the steps needed to achieve it. However, there are those with a more cynical or more realistic view of society that comment on current and future trends. These individuals look at the problems in society and show how to solve them with the use of control and power. Such a society is considered undesirable and has become known as dystopian society.

In the books 1984 by George Orwell and Brave New World by Aldous Huxley, both authors depict a dystopian society with some disturbing similarities. Orwell and Huxley each emphasize the use of power to control the masses. This power is always situated with a small group of individuals that uses it to control every aspect of the people’s lives. Using such a technique brings to mind a severe dictatorship of rigid control that destroys individuality. Each society makes use of a caste system. Each caste has certain responsibilities and regulations it must follow. Any sign of nonconformity is immediately punished and the societies are set up so the people will never question the morality or humaneness of their situation. Such concepts have been abolished from common thought so the people in power remain in power. Religion has been abolished and philosophical thought destroyed. The days are constantly filled with meaningless tasks and a desire to be alone is considered a dangerous social leaning. In both books the main characters rebel against the established society but in the end they succumb to societies rules and essentially die as a person as in the case of 1984 or literally in Brave New World.

There are some differences between the two novels based mainly on the form of control used to mold society to the ideals put forth from the leaders of the society. Orwell focuses on the use of the media, fear and hate to control the masses while Huxley depicts the use of conditioning, sex and soma (drugs). The novel 1984 is rift with hate and violence. This is especially seen through the unending war between the three worldpowers and the use of the Two Minute Hate to bring the people to a state of frenzy. The telescreens are never allowed to be turned off and the people are constantly watched and can be punished for even a thoughtcrime. In contrast, Brave New World focuses on making people happy with their assigned place in life. They are conditioned from decanting through childhood with the prejudice and social values determined by the ten world leaders. This keeps everyone focused on shallow things like physical pleasure without looking for a deeper meaning in life. If everyone is already happy then there is no need to change the system because no one will ever have a cause to rebel. Both societies use a different form of control with the main difference lying in the use of punishment or reward as the stimulus.

The United States features aspects from both novels but can better be described as a mixture of the two. Society is broken down into castes or social classes that in turn effects how people are treated. We have the poor, middle class and upper class with the ability to move between classes. The ability to change your status is not available in Huxley’s book while it is possible in extreme circumstances in Orwell’s book. The breakdown of social class is relatively the same in all three examples. The United States uses a combination of punishment and reward to keep people in line. There are punishments for breaking the law and rewards when people contribute to society. Information is screened by the media and television is the soma of the masses. Education is difficult to receive unless one has the money from social standing with which to obtain it. Thinking is discouraged in all three societies to keep the masses placated and to maintain the status quo. The reason the United States does not completely resemble either society is the relative intelligence of the people. Dystopian societies would be difficult to build overnight instead a long process of change is needed for them to emerge. The United States is slowly headed in that direction but a push for such a society would be rejected by the masses. The culture still focuses on freedom in all its many forms even though those freedoms are being eroded over time.

As mentioned earlier, in each book the main characters rebelled against the current system. Both characters felt there was something intrinsically wrong with society and began to question the norms. They each used references to the past or a contrast society as comparison to the current system. Each character felt there was something wrong and tried to get other people to notice it as well and finally took a physical action to stand up for what they believe in. In each case they were brought before authority figures and eventually failed in their rebellion. However, Winston and John were forced to rebel in different ways based on the nature of the society they lived in.

Winston went about rebelling by furtively writing a diary, having a love affair and joining the brotherhood. When he was caught instead of just punishment they eventually succeeded in making him love Big Brother, the ultimate admission of defeat. The process of doublethink allows people to lie to themselves and believe the lies while being able to change them at will. John, the savage, comes from the Reservation into the London society which gives him a point of comparison. His upbringing and the assimilation of Shakespeare’s works makes John predisposed to violence. This is seen through his refusal of sex with Lenina, call to the Deltas to give up soma and the consequent throwing of the soma out the window by John when they refuse which causes a riot. His violent behavior reaches its climax with the self flagellation and whipping of Lenina which results in an orgy in which he takes part. Seeing his participation as assimilation into that society John then decides to kill himself.



Download as:   txt (10.1 Kb)   pdf (120.8 Kb)   docx (12.4 Kb)  
Continue for 7 more pages »
Only available on