Dystopian Literature

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“Dystopian Literature is not concerned with shaping the future but with teaching us about the problems of the present”. Discuss "Lord of the Flies" and "Animal Farm" in light of this comment.

Many critics have argued that several extreme historical circumstances of the 20th century have led to the flourishing of dystopian literature. Dystopias usually extrapolate elements of contemporary society and function as a warning against some modern trend, often the threat of oppressive regimes in one form or another. In Orwell's "Animal Farm" and Golding’s "Lord of the Flies", both authors create a dystopia; however the intention of the characters originally was to create a perfect society. But Golding and Orwell are trying to convey that society will always be corrupt and a utopia can never be achieved, as in both novels the "uncorrupted" leaders who begin with good intentions soon spiral out of control with their want of power and control. In "Animal Farm", this process happens gradually with the changing of the seven commandments by Napoleon to justify his own behaviour which at the beginning of the revolution he outlined as enemy traits. For example, the sixth commandment is "No animal shall kill any other animal" but Squealer changes this to 'No animal shall kill any other animal without cause’. After Napoleon executes animals that were allegedly plotting against him, also when Boxer is injured Napoleon sells him to a glue factory to be slaughtered. In response to the question both novels can seen as using allergory to criticise society in the time they were written. Though "Lord of the flies" is fictional its exploration of violence and brutality can be seen as partly based on Golding's experience of World War II. In relation to "Animal Farm" the novel reflects events leading up to and during the Stalin era before World War II. There are several metaphors in “Animal Farm” which refer to the Russian Revolution and demonstrate how a dream of freedom can soon turn into a violent nightmare which provides an indirect analysis of the perpetrators and events of the Russian Revolution. Animalism can be seen as an allegory mirror of the Soviet Union and is the ideology which brainwashes the animals into their new government. At first it is a positive change from “Manor Farm” which gives them connotations of slaves as they are owned by humans into “Animal Farm” however, the majority of animals lead a worse existence under the rule of pigs who promised equality. There are comparisons that can be made with animalism and Marxism, the first is the economy, both have firm beliefs that there is no need for money or social class, however this fundamental principle is immediately undermined by the fact that the pigs are in charge thus creating a hierarchy in the farm in which they are the top of. Another similarity is that the two concepts were created by respectable “men”, Old Major; a pig who dreams of animalism instigates the revolution in the farm before his death. Karl Marx was the soul thinker of Marxism and Orwell demonstrates through the plot in the novel how ideas of Marxism and communism bring about equality immediately but corruption in leadership brings about oppression. This technique of using animals to represent the society Orwell wished to criticise can be seen in all the characters in “Animal Farm”, however we will explore only the main contributors. Napoleon is the villain of the novel and an obvious metaphor for Joseph Stalin, the very name Napoleon is fitting as the Napoleon the French dictator was seen by many as the Anti-Christ. At first Napoleon seems like a good leader but eventually is overcome by greed which is what occurred in Stalin’s rein, he soon became power hungry and lived a life of luxury while Russia and its people suffered. Another part of Stalin that Orwell illustrates through Napoleon is the paranoia of losing power and this fear breeds violence and leads to the execution of innocents who were seen...
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