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Utopia Or Dystopia Essay, Research Paper
English 4 CP
May 11, 1998
Utopia or Dystopia
All through life humanity tries to obtain a world in which one can live with enjoyment, equality,
fairness, and happiness. Many great writers have created utopian worlds that the reader can
consider and explore. To create a perfect place compels the writer to write novels that deal with
utopia. People see them selves in a place where it is fun and enjoyable. Writers see today’s world
not as the “good place”(Hermon, Holman). The world today has many wars, diseases, and world
wide hunger. It takes many steps to produce a utopian world and is why creating a Utopia is no
easy task. Other type of world that is opposite of Utopia is dystopia. Dystopia is a place where in
literary meaning would be a, “bad place”(Snodgrass). Novels such as Brave New World,
Fahrenheit 451, and 1984 are dystopian novels. In Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World, takes the
Individuality and has made happiness and enjoyment of life in to an artificial feeling with the constant
presence of soma. Hope of achieving utopia humankind in this world obtains dystopia by mass
cloning that destroys humanity. In Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451, the controllers of this world try
to achieve utopia but in turn reach dystopia were knowledge is gone. In George Orwells 1984,
achieve dystopia by the inner party who strive for domination by controlling love and the individual
mind. In Once and Future King, T.H. White creates a utopian world where the idea of equality,
peace, fairness, and happiness appears as a result of King Arthur’s influence. Novel shows how one
individual tries his whole life striving to achieve utopia. The novel shows that the life time of one
person is not enough to obtain this utopia as King Arthur has to past his ideas for the future
generations. In Edward Bellamy’s Looking Backward, constructs the perfect utopia where the
individual, love, and knowledge are practice unlike the other worlds. Looking Backward, and
Once and Future King, did what the other novels did not; it strives for utopia and reaches it. Novels
that reach utopia keeps and works the ideas of individualism, love, and knowledge into the society;
whereas the dystopian novels eliminate such ideas believing it will lead to utopia.
George Orwell presents a world to the reader where there is no chance for a utopia whereas
the citizens see this world as a utopia due to telescreens, propaganda’s and brainwashing that leads
to a society of no desires or thoughts. Citizens are not allowed to have personal thoughts or feelings
due to the telescreens that destroys the individual mind. Telescreens is a designs that is a two way
interacting television set that the Party uses to keep people from thinking. The telescreens are
monitored by a force called the Thought Police. “Thought police plugged in on any individual
wire…-in the assumption that every sound you made was over heard”(Orwell 7). We see how this is
forced greatly on the people when Winston has to hide himself from telescreens just to write down
some of his thoughts. Huge posters with big eyes reminds the people that Big Brother is watching
them. This is the constant brainwashing the citizen go trough as they are attached at a young age to
love Big Brother and once hooked the party controls them for the rest of there lives. All the
brainwashing of constant propaganda’s and telescreen turns the people in the society into drones
with only one desire, to love Big Brother.
In 1984 the society obtains true power and maintains dystopia by controlling the power of love
both filial and romantic. Children are brainwash at a young age not to love, but spy against their
parents thus destroying the filial love. The children are raise to grow up and love only Big Brother.
Party has made the affection of making love to another as a sinful act. “The aim of the Party was
not merely to prevent men and women from forming loyalties which it might not be able to control.
Its real, undeclared purpose was to remove all pleasure from the sexual act…..The party was trying
to kill the sex instinct by distorting it and dirtying it”(Orwell 57). Understanding that sex was apart of
love it was made to believe to be a sin, but seen right by Party to have sex to gain new members.
The Party still had other measure to control love for it is the force that makes their true power.
The party uses the Ministry of Love that implements torture to keep control of love to achieve
complete domination. Pain of torture is to much to bare as it can strip love and force one to betrayal
as one would do anything to stop the pain. “I don’t care who it is or what you do to them. I’ve got
a wife and three children… You can take the whole lot of them and cut their throats in front of my
eyes, and I’ll stand and watch it. But not room 101!”(195). Here is an example of a prisoner who
has been tortured for a long time by the Ministry of Love and does not want anymore. Due to this
excessive pain he is willing to see his own spouse and children killed in front of him for the love of the
party and not for his family. This is the same process that Winston and Julia went through as they
betray each other.
Winston and Julia severe torture destroys the romantic love and leads to their mutual betrayal
as they turn to love Big Brother that made them believe the society they lived in was perfect. This is
power that the Party obtains and controls in this dystopia. “Never again will you be capable of love,
or friendship, or joy of living, or laughter, or curiosity, or courage, or integrity. You will be hollow.
We shall squeeze you empty, and then we shall fill you with ourselves”(211). Through immense
torture leads to the betrayal of Winston and Julia, “I betrayed you” she said baldly. “I betrayed
you,..”(Orwell 240). After they were drained of the love for each other they were filled by love of
Big Brother. This is reason why the people of oceana are not capable to love on their own but made
to love Big Brother through the power of torture. With this in mind this society controlled by party
sees it as utopia whereas it truly and sadly a dystopia in readers eyes and will remain an dystopia. All
dystopian worlds are alike such as Brave New World, were their too contains like qualities and
opposite qualities to 1984.
Brave New World shows the individuality striped from its people who are forced to live
brainwashed, segregated, and unfair without them knowing of it; the people of this futuristic world
see it as utopia whereas the reader can clearly see it has dystopia. In this world they have mastered
genetics and are able to form identical beings by the dozens that destroys individuality. This process
is called Bokanovsky’s Process, “Bokanovsky’s Process is one of the major instruments of social
stability!(Huxley 5). Result of the Bokanovsky process is mass cloning which is not social stability it
is the destruction of humanity. No longer the individual exist, the term individual has a small meaning
in this world of similar faces. Controllers of this world are still not done as they strip more of human
In quest for utopia the controllers of Brave New World have created a caste system were at
birth many human natures are taken away; the controllers act as god and decide who gets what from
birth. One must wonder how a world is equal when it comes to labor? Who gets to decide who
becomes a garbage man or a company president? In this society their jobs are chosen before they
are decanted from their artificial birth. Society creates different levels of humans so that the lower
the class the lower quality of being. This is truly unjust as one group of humans lose their human
nature to grow both physically and mentally. Higher classes are not identical for they are made
different but are only a small percentage of the total population. The higher class is the one that
coordinates society while the true labor backbone comes from the lower class. To maintain this
caste system the controllers must take great efforts to keep happiness and pleasure for the castes
groups so they do what they are made to do.
Happiness in Brave New World is artificial with lots of conditioning and the company of the
drug called soma. All the people in this society go through conditioning. Conditioning takes away
free will to knowledge as it makes the citizens to learn whatever they are condition. If a certain group
has to pick up garbage they will love to pick up garbage. There is no room for the individual mind
because the conditioning does not allow the mind to mature in its own way that is why children were
decanted and not born. “For you must remember that in those days of gross viviparous
reproduction, children were always brought up by their parents and not in State Conditioning
Centre”(Huxley 23). The happiness that condition brings to the caste works efficiently. Sometimes
this artificial happiness needs a boost for the members of this society. The higher and lower caste
can sometimes see their misery which is not intended by the controllers so these people are given
soma. Soma induces pleasure in great amounts and clears the mind of bad feelings. Conditioning
and soma satisfies all pleasures so there is no need for love.
In this world’s advances to achieve utopia cost them many valuable items such as love both filial
and romantic. Decanting was the lost of filial love because in this world there are no mothers or
fathers. Citizens are not able to see romantic love because the controller encourages and conditions
them to have sex with many different people within their caste. No love is possible in this society
because true love is not wanted. People of Brave New World see the love between a mother and
child disgusting. “The spectacle of two young women giving breast to their babies made her blush
and turn away her face. She had never seen anything so indecent in her life”(Huxley 111). Without
love for another death is not seen. The only way they can see love is when they go to the savage
lands. The savage land is were John is from and through his eyes the reader can truly see this world
The reader of Brave New World can see that the society has not reached utopia as can John
the Savage, but ironically the people of the society think other wise; citizens believe they have
reached a state of living that many dream of. The people of this world can not see this dystopia
whereas John can. Society disgust John because he is able to see clear without the conditioning and
soma. “‘O brave new world that has such people in it.’…But the Savage had suddenly broken away
and was violently retching”(Huxley 63). The society does not understand Johns reaction other then
that they see him as a savage. Society sees their world as a utopia and try to show John. “Bernard
and Hemholtz show off Utopia to John. He is more disgusted and moody with each passing
day”(Carey 13). It is ironic that John is called the savage when he truly is not. “But the central irony
in Huxley’s evocation of the Noble Savage idea is that although John Savage, as he comes to be
called, fits the romantic prototype in that he has a natural dignity and intelligence, he is not a
savage”(Guinevera 76). This shows that Brave New World to a regular person is not seen to be a
utopia; it is seen to be a dystopia. Another novel such as Fahrenheit 451 reaches for utopia but ends
up with dystopia.
Ray Bradbury in Fahrenheit 451, shows a society that creates a world of happiness without the
cause of pain and confusion that leads to a world with no thoughts. The society believes that pain
was causing dystopia along with confusion. So this society began to strive for complete happiness
believing that utopia would soon be reached. To rid pain they made devices to continuously pump in
happy thoughts. Such devices were television sets that completely surround the room on all four
sides and headsets to calm you down and put in happy thoughts. “..in her ears the little seashells, the
thimble radios tamped tight, and an electronic ocean of sound, of music and talk and music and talk
coming in…of her unsleeping mind”(Bradbury 11). Shows how the society tries to keep everyone
happy and free from pain and confusion. This devises are not enough for the human brain has many
thoughts so the society has to try to keep the mind free of any thoughts other then happy thoughts.
This world believes that knowledge from books causes to much controversy, confusion, and
pain so eventually they became extinct. Society wanted the people to be happy and not ask why. In
order too due this society had to take away the individual mind that forms from the knowledge it
receives. The source of knowledge that the society looks upon to be bad was books. At first they
did not burn books as they thought they could just shorten them. “Classic cut to fit fifteen-minute
radio shows, then cut again to fill a two-minute book column…whose sole knowledge, as I say, of
Hamlet was a one-page digest in a book claimed: now at last you can read all the classics; keep up
with your neighbors.”(Bradbury 50). By shortening books they believed it will cause fewer thoughts
thus leading to less controversy that leads to less confusion and finally less pain. It is the thoughts
that put questions inside the mind and this is what the society does not want. Shortening books was
not enough so they had to take more drastic measures.
In Fahrenheit 451 is a world that does not let the individual express their own thoughts by
destroying all the books that help the human mind to form it’s of unique individual way. In the
beginning, we see fire that is used to destroy books. “It was a pleasure to burn. It was a special
pleasure to see things eaten, to see things blackened and changed”(3). This shows how fire is to be
seen throughout the novel as it destroys books that are knowledge. The destruction of books shows
that destroying books that creates individuality is not wanted by a uniform society that the reader
sees as dystopia. As the books burn and become blacken is how the minds of many become, as
they no longer think for themselves. Burning books is affective from keeping the minds clear of
thoughts but not enough so the society of Fahrenheit 451 speed everything up.
In this so called utopia the society has to be on a fast past so they have no time to think or
question; just be happy. Everything in this society is practically speed up. “One column, two
sentences, a headline! Then, in mid-air, all vanishes! Whirl man’s mind around about so fast under
pumping hands of publishers, exploiters, broadcasters that the centrifuge flings off all unnecessary,
time-wasting thought!”(Bradbury 50). Even the teaching of knowledge is speed up. “School is
shortened, discipline relaxed, philosophies, histories, languages dropped, English and spelling
gradually neglected, finally almost completely ignored”(Bradbury 51). This society keeps going
ahead, no time to see what is wrong.
The society Fahrenheit 451 keeps pushing themselves so they can be happy and no pain; they
do not look back and see their dystopia whereas Montag does as Clarisse makes him think.
Montag has been pushed along with society until he met Clarisse. It took a question from Clarisse,
“Are you Happy?”(Bradbury 9), and an old lady who burned with her books to change Montag’s
views about the society he lives in. Montag soon became a rebel and went against the ways of the
society. Controllers of this world kills Clarisse since she was a loose cannon of thoughts to the
society. This is what the society has come to as it will due anything to preserve their little thoughts of
happiness. Montag is an example of what thoughts and books can due to a citizen in this futuristic
society. The power of thought can open the eyes and truly see how the society really is; in chaos. In
Once and Future King shows a novel that is unlike this dystopia for it creates a utopian place.
T.H. White’s, Once and Future King brings a utopia in which King Arthur constructs from his
childhood lessons from Merlin, but is in danger by the teachings of Toirdealbhach to Arthur’s ill made
son and the Orkney boys. These lesson that King Arthur experienced in his childhood is when he
became a fish, an ant, and a goose. As a fish he learned that might right, but learns from this lesson
that might is not right. When the young wart was an ant he learned that war was wrong and not
worth it. As an ant he saw just how important the individual mind is. When wart took the skies with
the geese he learned about territories and boundaries and learned when to fight and when not to
fight. Arthur’s son and the Orkney boys were thought the old ways that will be the downfall of
Arthur. Still with all the lessons taught by Merlin Arthur was able to create his utopian society.
King Arthur creates the utopian society as he pictured in his mind were the individual, thought,
and love can be free with peace and equality. Arthur society was booming with people who were
free and able to walk around without harm.
Where the black knights had hoved,…now any virgin could circumambulate the whole
country, even with gold and ornaments upon her person, without the least fear of harm…All the
tyrannous giants were dead, all the dangerous dragons had been put out of action.(White 423)
To obtain equality Arthur made the round table so that no one was above the other. “‘There will be a
lot of jealousy,’…’Knights in this order of yours saying that they are the best one, and wanting to sit at
top of the table.’ ‘Then we must have a round table, with no top’”(White 265). After creating the
round table he had knights flocking to his kingdom. In time King Arthur creates his perfect society.
In this society King Arthur makes new ways of teaching to change old ways that caused the past
King Arthur wants his utopia to strive so he tries to teach the new generations of the new ways,
but he has challenge by the Orkney boys who have been thought the old ways. King Arthur wants
to teach the children when they are young so when they get older they are not corrupt. “The most
important thing, will be to catch them young. The old knights, the ones we are fighting against, will
be mostly to old to learn. We must breed up a new generation of chivalry for the future”(White
265). This was Arthur’s goal to achieve that will promise him a perfect society forever. However
this did not happen as King Arthur’s own son along with the Orkney boys corrupts his society.
Dystopia came upon the society that Arthur tries so hard to maintain. All of Arthur’s ideas and
values were at the brink of extinction. King Arthur’s last hopes of his society was to pass his ideas
to a young page named Tom before his death. “You see, the King wanted there to be somebody
left, who would remember their famous idea” (White 636). Tom was told of all the ideas of Arthur’s
utopia and hopes one day that the society once again will strive. In Looking Backward present a
world like no other where there is no chance of corruption as in King Arthur’s society.
Edward Bellamy’s Looking Backward, takes a dystopian world and changes it around to the
perfect utopia were no longer exist hunger, war, and hate but instead knowledge, individual, and love
endures. In the world Julian lives in contains war, hunger, crime, and has many disputes. For Julian
never thinks about this distopic world because he and his family are wealthy. West goes to sleep
one day and wakes up in the twentieth-century after being in a suspended trance. Mr. Leete brings
West out of this trance and becomes his guide to utopia. West learns through Mr. Leete about the
past Boston which has change in to the next millennium.
Boston in the twentieth-century takes care of the individuality and allows them to form in their
individual way. This utopian society expects the people to due what best fit them too due and
mature in their own way. “The most delicate possible test is needed here, and so we leave the
question whether a man shall be a brain or hand worker entirely to him to settle”(Bellamy 137). This
shows that society does not push ideas on to the citizens. Citizens are allowed to strive within their
own talents. “Public policy is to encourage all to develop suspected talents”(Bellamy 138). If one
wants to be a writer he or she can be a writer. No one in society will tell or make one due
something against their will other then to participate in society. Each citizen in the new Boston is
taken care of, “The nation guarantees the nurture, education, and comfortable maintenance of every
citizen from the cradle to the grave”(Bellamy 149). The society treats their citizens as equal were no
one gets more than the other.
New Boston is a utopia where the citizens can see themselves as equals whereas in the past old
Boston was filled with unequal social status. Minds of the citizens in New Boston do not know what
is non equal and West questions Mr. Leete. Mr. Leete response is, “It is precisely because we are
all social equals whose equality nothing can compromise”(Bellamy 168). Mr. Leete tells West that
all of the citizens get a year credit of 4 thousand dollars no matter where they work. West asks how
workers are paid the same if one worker produces more than the other. Mr. Leete responds by,
“The right of man to maintenance at the nation’s table depends on the fact that he is a man, and not
on the amount of health and strength he may have, so long as he does his best”(Bellamy 179). The
society sees effort applied by the citizens as equal no matter how smaller or greater.
In new Boston society give everyone equal status and does not divide or split among caste groups
that is displayed in dystopian worlds.
Splitting up groups by castes or social class leads to dystopia and is why it has been removed
in new Boston. “There are no privileged few, no overpaid managerial class, and no sexism or
slavery delegating dreary jobs to women, nonwhites, or an overburdened subclass”(Snodgrass
324). This quotation shows the benefits of not having class and can be seen in true utopian worlds.
Having such classes create dystopia as it did in Brave New World. “It is the worst thing about any
system which divides men, or allows them to be divided, into classes and castes, that it weakens the
sense of a common humanity”(Bellamy 195). In new Boston the people are seen to be more social
due to the fact that they are all equals. As everyone is equal there is no hate between people and
crime has been made to nothing by eliminating money.
Utopia strives to correct what is done wrong from the past so they have taken money that
causes lust, greed and temptations away from the society. New Boston has figured out that
eliminating money will rid their societal problems dealing with crime. “Result from the inequality in
the possessions of individuals; want tempted the poor, lust of greater gains…money was the motive
of all crime, the taproot of a vast poison growth”(Bellamy 225). Without crime new Boston is in
peace and harmony, “As with other utopias, the Boston of A.D. 2000 is a dream world that suffers
no anarchy and subsists in harmony and peace(Snodgrass 325). Knowledge in this world is
available and gladly given.
New Boston maintains utopia by not forcing certain knowledge to the children in schools, but
offers abundance amount of knowledge. Children acquire knowledge in certain areas of professions
and arts. Society gives the young citizens till the age of twenty-one to learn in the area they best
wish. This process is affective because the knowledge is not being force to them that causes them to
take in less. “According to Edith, because of the efficacy of public education in skills and tastes…Art
flourishes. Libraries continue to stock English classic”(Snodgrass 325). In this utopia knowledge is
fluent and the thought of each individual is wanted.
Love prospers in new Boston as it shows Edith expressing herself towards West. After waking
up in new Boston West has been feeling lonely ever since. West has feelings for Edith but does not
tell her for he is shy. Due to freedom of expression in new Boston Edith does not feel shy as she
expresses her love to West. Edith tells West that she would have told him sooner but was afraid to
I know girls were expected to hide their feelings in your day, and I was dreadfully afraid of
shocking you. Ah me, how hard it must have been for them to have always had to conceal their
love like a fault. Why did they think it such a shame to love any one till they had been given
permission to fall in love?(Bellamy 293) This shows how the society feels openly about love. New
Boston has no restrictions on love and therefore maintains utopia. With all this great changes that are
made from the past from old Boston to the new Boston can be seen as the journey back to the
garden of Eden; the very first utopia.
In a higher note Bellamy’s Looking Backward, is society that maintains utopia where citizens
are becoming more and more innocent and thus in biblical terms are going back to the Garden of
Eden were violence, greed, and inequality does not exist. As West was in this garden like society he
was force to leave when he went to sleep and dreamed he was in old Boston. While back again in
old Boston West sees true dystopia of corruption, crimes, greed and inequality. West wants to go
back to new Boston; wants to go back to the garden of Eden. When West once again awaken he is
back in the future and is so happy he cries, “I was gasping. The tears were streaming down my face,
and I Quivered in every nerve”(Bellamy 310). At the end of the novel Bellamy puts a picture in the
readers mind were West and Edith represent Adam and Even in the garden of Eden. “Edith. fresh as
the morning, had come into the garden and was gathering flowers. I hastened to descend to her.
Kneeling before her, with my face in the dust, I confessed with tears how little was my worth to
breath the air of this golden century”(Bellamy 311). This shows that new Boston will continue to be
Hubris is excessive pride that the closed minded societies have shown in 1994, Brave New
World, and Fahrenheit 451 where they only see utopia when they take away knowledge,
individuality, and love which in turn causes dystopia. The quest for Utopia was found in all the
novels, but only two made it and the rest became dystopia ironically still believing it was utopia.
When great societies tries to obtain utopia they become blind not seeing that they have caused
dystopia. This is not just seen with utopia as this is true for any great substances such as getting the
American Dream or getting one million dollars. People and societies get wrapped up in trying to
reach too far with their hands and end up losing their bodies. This is why TH. White’s Once and
Future King and Edward Bellamy’s Looking Backwards were able to create their utopian societies.
King Arthur’s society did not eliminate all the things that caused dystopia but mixed them into his
society by the new ways and old ways. In new Boston they achieve their utopia by not just
eliminating but reconstructing their society from the wrongs of the previous society. All the novels
have dreams of utopia and that may be their success or downfall.
Ash, Brian, ed. “02.07 UTOPIAS AND NIGHTMARES, 124-129″ The Visual Encyclopedia
of Science Fiction. New York: Harmony Books, 1977. 124-9.
Bellamy, Edward. Looking Backward. Cambridge: The John Harvard Library, 1970.
Bradbury, Ray. Fahrenheit 451. New York: Ballantine Books, 1973.
Carey, Gary, ed. Brave New World and Brave New World Revisited. Lincoln: Cliffs Notes,
Guinevera, A. “Aldous Huxley, 76-77″ Heaven and Hell: The Utopian Theme in Three Novels.
New York: Continuan, 1988.
Hermon, William and Holman, C. Hugh, eds. A Hand Book to Literature. 5th ed. New York:
McMillan Publishing Company, 1986.
Huxley, Aldous. Brave New World. New York: Harper Perennial, 1989.
Orwell, George. 1984. New York: The New American Library, Inc., 1961.
Snodgrass, Mary Ellen. “Dystopia, 179″, “Looking Backward, 323-324″ Encyclopedia of
Utopian Literature. Santa Barbara: ABC-CLIO, 1995.
White, T.H. The Once and Future King. New York: Ace Books, 1987.
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