To What Extent Is the Idea of Dystopian Society Present in 1984 and Fahrenheit 451 and How Does Being Part of It Affect the Protagonists?

Topics: Nineteen Eighty-Four, Fahrenheit 451, George Orwell Pages: 5 (1980 words) Published: April 15, 2012
To what extent is the idea of dystopian society present in 1984 and Fahrenheit 451 and how does being part of it affect the protagonists?

The idea of a dystopian society is that of complete control, either through the use of a police state that has ultimate control over humanity and or the idea of man abusing technology to further gain control of its subjects. These ideas are very present in both novels. In 1984, the totalitarian state is technically and urbanely engineered to spy on and see people's very thoughts. In Fahrenheit 451 a similar idea is used in the outlawing of literature and the use of denunciations to capture and punish those deemed to have broken the law. This essay is going to explore the idea of Man’s struggle against the society which seeks to break him, erasing the individual, resulting in the mindless slaves to society, the very idea that the authors warn against.

In 1984, the constant barrage of information regarding the greatness of the state and Big Brother's supremacy over the common man forces everyone to consent and believe in the totalitarian state. The party justifies itself by eliminating the individual, giving power to everyone as being part of the collective power of the party as O’Brien mentions «if he can escape from his identity, if he can merge himself in the party so that he is the party, then he is all-powerful and immortal » the party’s belief that they control everything even human reality portrays how far a totalitarian government can go in achieving complete control of humanity. This can be clearly seen in 1984, where O’Brien tortures Winston to the point where he is capable of relinquishing all humanity, all common sense until the point where O’Brien tells Winston that two and two make five. Winston loses all sense of individuality to the point where conforms to the party and denounces his true love Julia. Through the use of fear and crushing oppression, the idea of love apart from love for big brother and the party is all that remains. Therefore the Party succeed in their aims, obedience through the use of force and fear.

The central conflict of the novel is Man-vs. Society, as with Fahrenheit 451. Winston constantly struggled for individuality in a society were there is no “I” there is only ‘we”, individuality and freedom of expression is forbidden, punishable by death. The party wishes to control all of humanity, eradicating the “sex instinct”, O’Brien says « we will abolish the orgasm » « there will be no loyalty, except loyalty towards the party. There will be no love, except the love of big brother… there will be no art, no literature, no science », in this, the party’s aims are clear. They seek to destroy what it is to be human, to create a population of hollow men, loyal to none but the party, un-thinking, un-loving slaves of the party, tools. As in 1984, the state in Fahrenheit wish to crush creative thinking, eradicating humanity in the process. The burning of books, similar to the book burnings of Nazi Germany show the totalitarian, dystopian need to control the thoughts of the masses. By doing this, they control the past, and therefore the future. They are able to rewrite history to justify their acts, indoctrinating the youth to believe in their cause, just as the Nazis did.

In Fahrenheit 451, as in 1984, symbolism and reversible meanings are present which can also be seen as conflicting emotions in the protagonist and the struggle to find a place in society. In 451, the contrasting ideas of fire and water are very interesting. The firemen are not as tradition tells, protectors of the people, putting out fires and saving lives, but using fire to burn and destroy literature. Their role is to destroy, to burn human creativeness. Captain Beatty, chief of the fire department, believes that "fire is bright and fire is clean." This idea contradicts the norm of fire is destructive and evil. This represents the twisted ideas of authority, reversing the...
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