I think this image greatly depicts the difference between what utopia and dystopia is. Some people actually don’t know the difference between the two because there is a very thin line between them. I will admit, when I was younger I was one of those who thought utopia and dystopia meant the same thing. I don’t know why I did because there is a clear distinction, such as the root word “dys” in dsytopia.
I still face palm myself when I think about it. However, as I began to read books with these themes, I began to understand and distinguish the difference. Basically these two are the exact opposites. (No kidding….) Now that I know, I thought I’d write a post just to serve as a reminder.
“Both utopias and dystopias share characteristics of science fiction and fantasy, and both are usually set in a future in which technology has been used to create perfect living conditions. However, once the setting of a utopian or dystopian novel has been established, the focus of the novel is usually not on the technology itself but rather on the psychology and emotions of the characters who live under such conditions.”
Utopia coined by Sir Thomas More is defined as an ideal community or society possessing highly desirable or perfect qualities.
Characteristics of a Utopian Society:
-equality for citizens
-access to education, employment, healthcare, etc.
-free of crime, violence,and war
Dystopia on the other hand is a play on the made up word of utopia using the root word “dys” meaning “bad’ or “difficult”. In literature it is a setting in which oppressive societal control and the illusion of a perfect society is are maintained through corporate, technological, bureaucratic, moral, and totalitarian control.
Characteristics of a Dystopian Society:
-limitation of information, independent thought, freedom, liberty
-propaganda controlling people’s minds
-controlling, oppressing government
-poverty or huge income gap b/w rich and poor characters
In dystopian novels the protagonist of the story often is the one who questions the existing political and social systems and the one who feels trapped and is wanting to escape. As a reader he/she is the one that helps y ou recognize the negative aspects of the dystopian society that he/she lives in.
I’m not sure if it’s just me, but I have noticed that dystopian themed novels are more common than utopian ones. Maybe because I read more dystopia (I love them) Reading them intrigues me and I am naturally a curious person. I usually ask myself these questions when I read such as “What if?” “If this happens…then what….?” “I wonder…what would people do if this were to happen?” There’s so many endless questions that goes through my mind as I read them and you just can’t help but and wonder about the future. I mean I hope this doesn’t happen in real life, but you’re always going to ponder about the possibility and what you would do in the event it might occur. I will admit when I read them, I’d like to imagine I am a heroine in a dystopian novel because I think the protagonists in these books are always awesome and really kickass.
Dystopia Book Examples:
Modern: The Hunger Games by Susan Collins, Divergent by Veronica Roth, Legend by Marie Liu
Classics: 1984 by George Orwell, Brave New World by Alduous Huxley, Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
As for utopian book examples I don’t have one.
I will admit I haven’t read one. I thought I did in Lois Lowry’s The Giver only to realize that it was a mixture of both. I may have to read this one again to gain a better understanding. So if anyone has any recommendations I’m open to suggestions.