May 7th, 2012.
Independent Study Unit: The Hunger Games vs. 1984
A Dystopian society is depicted as a vision of society in which conditions of life are miserable and characterized by poverty, oppression, war, violence, disease, pollution, and the abridgement of human rights – which all result in widespread unhappiness and suffering. The novel The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins and Michael Radford's film 1984 of George Orwell both incorporate such dystopian societies expressed through themes of power, versions of reality, oppression and rebellion.
In Micheal Radford's film adaptation of George Orwell's 1984, we are provided with a chilling storyline of a society that is ultimately controlled by a treacherous and powerful government. One becomes witness of such power through the life of a man who is victimized by utter mental contortion at the hands of their government. Big Brother is the dictator of Oceania, a totalitarian state where the ruling 'Party' has complete control over its inhabitants. In this society everyone is under surveillance by it's authorities- provided with a constant reminder of this by the phrase “Big Brother is watching you”. The governing power of Oceania is rooted in the concept of instilling fear by means of punishment and torture if their rules are not obeyed. “Power is tearing human minds apart and putting them back together in new shapes of your own choosing” (O'Brien to Winston,1984) This quote refers to the punishment of 'thought criminals' who had basically committed to their own thoughts and opinions, converting them into 'rehabilitated thought criminals' through the 'Ministry of Love'. Claiming power, the Ministry of Love serves as now loyal subjects who have been brainwashed into genuinely loving Big Brother.
In Suzanne Collin's novel The Hunger Games, the lives of the those living in Panem are under the power of the tyrannical dictatorship of the Capitol, a wealthy fortress city one may not dare to challenge. Panem is composed of twelve districts, previously thirteen, living in very poor conditions deprived of riches taken by the Capitol for themselves. The thirteenth district had been destroyed effortlessly by this overpowering government as a result of their failed attempt at rebellion. The Hunger Games are set in place each year by the Capitol to serve as a harsh reminder of their exceptional power and capacity. These annual games are gruesome battles in which two contestant tributes are chosen per district to battle to death until one is left triumphant. “Taking the kids from our districts, forcing them to kill one another while we watch – this is the Capitol's way of reminding us how totally we are at their mercy.” (Collins 1.76) The victor of the Games are granted a life of portioned wealth and fortune, and their respective district is rewarded accordingly. The boundless manipulation the Capitol imposes on the inhabitants of Panem is horrifying and intimidating, exemplifying their sheer forcefulness, fearlessness, and power.
It is said that the human mind may not recognize an imposed reality versus one that is in actuality a realistic and humane environment after thorough exposure. “It is very real to them. Essentially this is because people are at the centre of everything happening around them and their five senses will verify for them that these things are indeed real. However, the usual five senses are very limiting, and the full range of all-that-is that people should be sensing literally escapes them.” (Matthew Martin,Philosophical Concepts) . The harsh reality the government of Big Brother has created for Oceania's population is not one that could be considered humane nor acceptable in today's...
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1984. Dir. Michael Radford. Perf. John Hurt, Richard Burton, Suzanna hamilton, Cyril Cusack. Umbrella-Rosenblum Productions,1949. DVD.
Collins, Suzanne. The Hunger Games. New York: Scholastic Inc, 2008. Print.
"Dystopia." Dictionary.com. Dictionary.com. Web. 06 May 2012. .
“Dystopias: Definitions and Characteristics” ReadWriteThink. NCTE/IRA, 2006. Web. 02 May 2012..
Martin, Matthew. "Understanding the Concept of Reality." Helium. Helium, 02 Feb. 2008. Web. 06 May 2012. .
"What Is the Definition for a Dystopian Society?" WikiAnswers. Answers. Web. 06 May 2012. .
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