Dystopia Essay: 1984 and Harrison Bergeron

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Year 11, English Extension Essay ( 2 CORE texts and 1 RELATED text) What ideas do you see linking the texts you have studied through your exploration of Utopias and Dystopias. The novels Utopia by Thomas More and 1984 by George Orwell and short story Harrison Bergeron by Kurt Vonnegut explore the Utopic and Dystopic genre through the structure and regulations of their societies. In Utopia, More provides us with a contemporary understanding of society and human nature, with an indepth study of morals, values and beliefs in England around the Renaissance Era. 1984 was published while the Second World War was fresh in people’s minds, creating fears amongst society with Orwell emphasizing the possibility of such a dehumanised and controlled world if people did not exercise vigilence. Harrison Bergeron is a futuristic science fiction short story which exagerates the extent of authority and its abilities to control society, written during the time of the Cold War. Each text presents a society which reflects the growing concerns of the time and questions the nature of the individual within the society. The themes of freedom and governmental authority are explored which reinforce the utopic and dystopic views through the nature of the societies. In the texts, the key idea of freedom is explored where all people should be freely entitiled to this right. However, through the limitations and restrictions of the societies, we see that the people are unable to do as they please and exercise free will. Although the novel Utopia aims at presenting a supposedly ideal and perfect world, the concern of freedom is neglected. Through the juxtapostion of the two sections of the novel, Book 1 and Book 2, More highlights the concerns of his time where European rule hindered the freedom of the people. While More aims to convey a utopia, the regimented and orderly lifestyle of Utopians emphasize the loss of freedom. “They go to bed at 8 p.m., and sleep for eight hours.” This quote shows the collective nature of the society whereby freedom is lost. Utopians follow a strict and ordered routine and must collectively obey the rules enforced amongst the people. Some have even described such a society as communist, with everything being planned out and done according to societal structure. Similarly in 1984, we see that this basic right of individual freedom is violated through the totalitarian authority governing the society. We see the limitations that are imposed on the people through the invasive system involving secret police, planted microphones and television screens in both public and private places. Winston Smith, the protagonist, takes us through his life where we share his thoughts and memories, and follow his journey, from his first moments of rebellion right through to his interogation and consequent change in attitude to Big Brother. The author uses a third person narrative voice so we can see the story from Winston’s perspective, allowing us to see his loathing of the current society. There is repitition of the phrase, “DOWN WITH BIG BROTHER”, emphasizes Winston’s hate for Big Brother and the freedom deprived society which Big Brother and the Party have created . Orwell presents a very regimented and structured lifestyle by which both the Party members must abide by. Orwell employs irony in the party slogans such as “Freedom is Slavery” which highlights the Party’s view on freedom and how the individual’s in the society lack freedom. “Thoughtcrime was not a thing that could be concealed forever. You might dodge succesfully for a while, even for years, but sooner or later they were bound to get you”. We can see the fear that is engrained in Winston, and the fear of the Party that the society feels as a whole. The television screens and planted microphones are also in place to stop anyone from commiting any crimes highlighting the rigid system in place which prevents free thoughts and conversation. Orwell presents a dystopic society in...
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