Sunday, November 3, 2013

7. Dystopia

The world is not perfect, and it will probably never be. There are seven billion people on Earth, which means there is approximately the same number of different opinions on what is considered perfect and how the world should operate. We are all different in terms of our culture, religion, gender, skin color, class, and personality, which leave a certain mark on the way we think and act. Governments of different countries are constantly struggling to devise an ideal system that would satisfy every citizen, but it's virtually not possible considering all our differences. That's a utopia - unattainable perfection.

I love reading dystopian literature, which attempts to build these "perfect" societies that stand for world piece, equality, and public happiness, but reveals all the misery and absurdity behind the process, emphasizing on the suffering of people who have to sacrifice their individualism and freedom to the new "ideal" system. Here are my three favorite dystopian novels:

Image via LitStack
1. Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury. This novel depicts a future totalitarian society, in which books are outlawed because they carry controversial and outdated information, which offends minority groups of people, and contribute to inequality by making some people seem smarter than others. For the sake of political correctness, equality, and public happiness, the government hires "firemen" who burn all books that they can find, as well as the houses of those who keep them.

Image via Yellowed and Creased

 2. The Lathe of Heaven by Ursula K. Le Guin. The action of the book is set in Portland, Oregon in 2002. The main character, George Orr, discovers that his dreams can alter reality, so he starts abusing drugs to prevent himself from having these "effective" dreams. To help the problem, he has to go through psychiatric therapy with Dr. William Haber, who decides to take advantage of Orr's "gift" and starts manipulating his dreams to change the world in ways that would benefit him and society. For example, when Haber directs Orr to dream of a racism-free world, everyone's skin color becomes identical grey, and to solve the problem of overpopulation, Orr conceives of a plague that kills most of the world's population, and so on.

Image via The Anatomy Lesson
 3. We by Yevgeny Zamyatin. This novel describes a totalitarian society of a distant future, where every citizen of the One State has to conform to its strict laws: refer to each other by individually assigned numbers instead of names, shave their heads, wear identical clothing, and live in glass apartment buildings, which allow for easier supervision. Their freedom, privacy, and individualism are destroyed for the sake of equality. The One State even controls their work, sexual life, and parenthood, while having a "soul" is considered a disease, since people are expected to act like heartless machines.

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