The dystopian genre can be categorized into a wide group of literary works of speculative fiction. It usually involves a vision of the future, or an alternate world, which is used by an author to comment on and explore ideas about their own society. It’s has been a popular genre for quite some time. Lets analyze why dystopian literature, in particular, is so important.
Dystopian literature makes important commentary on the world, societies, and our governments. Humans, since the beginning of the organized society, have always been fascinated by a perfect society which is ‘Utopia’. Since Humans are flawed and our societies mirror that, but it’s also in our nature to strive for better, similar to philosophers who focused on political theory.
During the medieval age, utopia seemed to be a noble idea among the European authors and philosophers. While its main aim was to depict an ideal society, Dystopia on the other hand was a response where authors argued with the Utopian literature. Dystopias are utopias in the real world as these visionary ideas work well, as ideas. When placed in reality they quickly turn into dystopias.
In order to have an ideal society, humans should be devoid of humanistic values. Writers Depict societies that strive for perfection but ultimately fail as they ignore some vital part of humanity, which makes a convincing dystopian world.
Writers look for flaws that exist in our societies today, grounded in truth, and amplify them. A similar reflection of flaws can be seen in Orwell’s 1984 where it paralleled the problems that were ongoing in that period with the depiction of the overt dictatorial elements present in the Soviet Union and Third Reich. He critically pointed out the Government Surveillance, thought police, the constant change of history, and banning of books, which may seem exaggerated. These elements parallel our society albeit in a more subdued manner. Nevertheless, the parallels are present there, hence 1984 is still a very relevant piece of literature today.
Similarly in Brave new world, Huxley pointed out that there would be no need for banning books as people will be bombarded with too much information and would be critically incapable to decipher reality with information overload. Where pleasure receptors hijack people’s critical thinking
Within these two instances, we can interpret that one man’s heaven (Utopia) is another man’s hell (Dystopia). And dystopian writers don’t shy away from being political or radical when they try to describe these phenomena to warn readers.
It has also given rise to many similar genres like science fiction and cyberpunk, dystopian literature can share elements with these themes. In recent times, dystopian literature has also been popularized with the help of Movies, TV shows, and Video Games.
With the advent of the 20th-century dystopian literature evolved and flourished, many of the revered classic literature in the past century has been a part of this genre. Technology and science progressed and new means of government and bureaucratic institutions were established. This gave writers a new method to introspect the societal trend.
There is a critical need to academically evaluate these literary writings as its getting more relevant in our present society.