Tuesday, May 12, 2020

Dystopic Novels

Brave New World (1931)
by Auldous Huxley


The novel opens in the year 632 A.F. (which means After Ford, the god of the New World). All of civilization has been destroyed by a great war. Then there is another war, the Nine Years War, which ushers in the era of Ford, ensuring stability through dictatorship. The society depicted in the novel is based on a rigid caste system. The higher of the five castes enjoy superior tasks, while the lower ones perform menial roles. Ten Controllers hold all the power in this new world and peace is maintained by conditioning infant minds and by soothing adults with the tranquilizer, soma. The population is further controlled through scientific methods; marriage is forbidden, and children are not born but produced in an embryo factory.
When the novel begins, some students are being given a guided tour through the London Hatcheries. Henry Foster and Lenina Crowne, two employees of this center, have been dating each other a little too often, going against state rules. Lenina's friend Fanny warns her against such promiscuity. As a result, Lenina decides to date Bernard Marx, who is very intelligent but not quite like the others of his caste. Lenina and Bernard decide to go on a vacation to a Savage Reservation in New Mexico, where people considered unworthy of Utopia are confined. On the reservation, the inhabitants live in an almost primitive manner. Before Bernard leaves for his vacation, he is warned by Tomakin, the Director of Hatcheries, about his non-conformist ways and threatened with exile to Iceland.
Lenina and Bernard accidentally meet Linda and her son, John the Savage, on the Reservation. Bernard learns from John that long ago Linda had come to the Reservation with Tomakin, who had abandoned her there. Discovering herself to be carrying Tomakin's child, she knew that she could not return to Utopia; therefore, she stayed on the Reservation and raised John. Hearing this story, Bernard goes to the Controller and gains his permission to take John and his mother back to Utopia. When Bernard presents the pair to Tomakin, the Director is shattered and resigns from his position at the Hatcheries, having become an object of ridicule. Bernard no longer has to worry about being exiled to Iceland.
While living in the custody of Bernard, John becomes the object of everyone's curiosity and amusement. Bernard at first revels in the attention that he receives because of the Savage. Things, however, do not go smoothly. John soon grows repulsed by the ways of the New World and becomes unhappy. Despite his mood, Lenina finds herself terribly attracted to John and tries to seduce him. John, however, fights his physical attraction for her and resists her advances.
When his mother dies, John goes crazy. He then tries to convert the Utopians to his way of thinking. Rebellion results and must be quelled. Bernard and Helmholtz Watson are blamed for the rebellion. When the two of them are taken to Mustapha Mond, along with John, Bernard and Helmholtz are exiled. John is retained for further experimentation. He resists and tries to flee into solitude, but the citizens of Utopia continue to hound him. In a fit of misery and depression, John commits suicide.
Movie based on Brave New World - Gattaca

1984  (1949)
by George Orwell

Plot Summary

George Orwell wrote 1984 in 1949. The dystopian novel is set in 1984 - Orwell's near future and our recent past - but the novel is still relevant today, due to its depiction of a totalitarian government and its themes of using media manipulation and advanced technology to control people.
Winston Smith lives in London, but not the London we know. Instead of being a part of England, 1984's London is part of Oceania, one of the three huge governments that exist in the book's world. Oceania is controlled by a powerful and mysterious elite. The government, referred to as 'Big Brother,' uses cameras and listening devices to constantly observe all of its citizens. There is also a secret police force dedicated to reporting both rebellious thoughts and general misbehavior to the appropriate authorities.
For the most part, Winston is a typical cog in the machine. He works at the Ministry of Truth, but he has a very low-ranking position. His job is tedious and involves altering records to promote the government's version of history.
Winston has a few problems with the government. To begin with, he does not buy into all of the propaganda he is fed. Some of the things he reads or hears contradict with his memories. For example, the government claims that they are at war against Eurasia, but Winston remembers being at war with Eastasia.
Winston also has a vision: he does not want to live under such a repressive government. He commits tiny acts of rebellion. He starts to keep a diary, and he begins to look for allies. This is a dangerous task, since Big Brother is always watching.
Despite his desire to rebel, Winston thinks he will be discovered soon by the Thought Police, the secret police force that searches for and punishes members of society that dare to even question how the government is run. The Thought Police also run a fake underground resistance in an attempt to discover rebellious Party members.
Then, Winston meets Julia at work. Despite the danger of exposing himself to a potentially fake rebel, Winston reveals his true thoughts to Julia. Julia turns out to be a rebel, too. The two start an affair, which is illegal in their country, especially because Julia is a member of the Junior Anti-Sex League. Winston and Julia share a mutual dream of a world free from war and oppression.
O'Brien, another rebel, befriends Winston and Julia. He invites them over to his place. Unfortunately, O'Brien turns out to be one of the Thought Police working undercover. He has spent the last seven years watching Winston for rebellious tendencies. O'Brien busts them with the help of Mr. Charrington, a man from whom Winston and Julia rented a secret room to conduct their affair.
Winston and Julia are separated, and Winston is tortured. Winston resists all the torture until he is sent to Room 101 where O'Brien straps a cage of rats to his head. Winston, terrified of rats, begs O'Brien to torture Julia instead. O'Brien stops torturing Winston. In fact, he even releases him back into society. By making Winston betray Julia, O'Brien succeeded in destroying his spirit. Grateful at being released, Winston is completely recommitted to Big Brother and no longer has any feelings for Julia.

full (different version) movie: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wl4kt4kUE88

Fahrenheit 451 (1951)
by Ray Bradbury 


From all outward appearances, Guy Montag is content in his job as a fireman in the 24th century town in which he lives. He has learned to accept that his society is dictatorial, expressly forbidding its citizens from reading or possessing books or seeking any other intellectual self-improvement. Montag has even learned to take pleasure in the flames that shoot from his igniter when he is called to burn the dwelling of the citizens that possess books or commit other crimes against the society. He is successful in distancing himself from the fact that his purpose in life is to destroy other peoples’ property.
The novel opens on a typical day for Montag, the protagonist of the novel; he finishes work and heads toward home. On the way, he runs into his teenage neighbor, Clarisse McClellan, who lives in the house next door to him. In the futuristic world in which she lives, Clarisse is judged to be peculiar, for she is strangely old-fashioned. She is interested in the way flowers smell and how the grass feels under her feet. She is seeing a psychiatrist because of her non-conformist interests. As she talks to Montag, Clarisse challenges him by asking, “Are you happy?” This simple question is Montag’s catalyst for change and causes everything that follows in the novel.
Without eagerness, Montag goes home to Millie, his wife. There is never any affection between them; in fact, they seldom even notice one another. On this particular night, as bombers fly overhead to foreshadow impending war, Montag discovers Millie has taken an overdose, which is a common occurrence in the town. He calmly calls the suicide orderlies, who are always standing by to come to the rescue of those who attempt to kill themselves. With little effort, they save Millie’s life. The distance between Millie and Montag deepens the next day when he tries to talk to her about her actions. She claims not to remember what she has done and returns to her interactive television, totally ignoring him.
Over the next several weeks, Clarisse and Montag develop a friendly relationship. They talk about ideas and thoughts in a way that no one in this society seems to do anymore. Because of Clarisse’s influence, Montag grows more concerned about his own life. Then one day, Clarisse disappears and Montag is troubled. Work troubles him even more, for he must participate in burning an old woman’s home. Refusing to leave her books and her belongings, she lights her own fire and stays inside, dying a martyr. Montag is moved by the woman’s bravery and sees it as a symbol of what is wrong with society. Almost in protest, he steals a book from the woman’s house.
Back at home, Montag learns that Clarisse has been killed; her death upsets him greatly. He tries to talk to his wife about books and ideas and what is wrong with society, but she is not interested. The next day, Montag calls in sick to work, for he has lost all interest in his former life. His boss, Beatty, comes to his home and warns him that sometimes firemen go through phases when they steal books; he reminds Montag if they do not return the books within twenty-four hours, they will be arrested and all their belongings burned. Montag thinks he should get rid of the books he has stolen, including the one from the old woman’s house.
After Beatty leaves, Montag shows the old woman’s book to his wife; he also shows her some twenty others he has apparently stolen over the years. Millie is terrified and refuses to deal with the situation. In frustration, Montag takes one of his books and leaves to visit with Faber, an old English professor he once knew. The two of them devise a plan to save the knowledge from Montag’s books. They decide that Montag must memorize the books to be ensured that their contents are preserved. When Montag goes home, he again frightens his wife by showing her his books; he also shows them to two neighbors. Then he goes to the fire station to turn over one of his books so no one will be suspicious of him. At the fire station, the alarm sounds and Montag must go with Beatty and the other firemen to destroy a house. When they arrive, he realizes it is his own home they are supposed to burn.
At his house, Montag discovers that his own wife has turned him in. In a rage, he kills Beatty and is then attacked by the Hound. He manages to escape and goes to see Faber, seeking help. Faber takes Montag to the country, where some other intellectual exiles are living. Montag becomes part of their group. Like the others, he struggled to memorize books. Their plan is to someday put the knowledge from the books back on paper.
While Montag is in exile, the long-awaited war finally breaks out. The city that Montag has come from is completely destroyed. After the fighting is over, Montag and the others walk back to the city. They are determined to build a new civilization there.
Movie -


The Handmaids Tale (1985)
By Margaret Atwood

“The Handmaids Tale” is the sixth novel by Margaret Atwood. It was published for the first time in 1985 and has received several awards. It is set in a time where the US has collapsed, and the rule is called Gilead republic. It is an account of the narrator Offred and her experiences during and before the time.

The Plot in Brief

There is a low fertility rate, and fertile women are being imprisoned and getting forced to reproduce for the high rank of society. They are the handmaids. Offred gets assigned to a commander and his wife, where she is to abide by strict rules.
During each month when she is likely to conceive, there is a ceremony whereby Offred has to have intercourse with the commander to conceive a child who would be considered the family of the commander and Joy, his wife.
Offred often thinks of life before the Gilead came into power. She had a husband and a daughter. She and her husband Luke tried to escape with her daughter but got caught. They were separated, and Offred does not know where her family is. Moira, her friend, escapes the Centre.
Offred breaks routine on orders from the commander, and they become close to the point she kisses him goodnight every night. Offred is not pregnant yet, and they start suggesting the commander is infertile. She is instructed to have intercourse with Nick.
Offred finds out that her friend Moira was living as a prostitute. The commander takes Offred to the brothel. Offred fakes the experience for the commander’s sake. She is later sent to Nick, and sex with him is passionate. She starts sneaking to meet Nick, and they start a risky relationship.
A mob of women executes a man accused of rape as was the rule. Offred becomes confronted by Serena about the incident at the brothel, and this presents a danger. A black van arrives to take her away, the commander is surprised, and his wife is angry. Nick had told Offred that the van would lead her to freedom. Offred is not sure where she is being taken.

Quotes: https://www.goodreads.com/work/quotes/1119185-the-handmaid-s-tale

Excerpt: https://www.penguinrandomhouse.ca/books/6125/the-handmaids-tale-by-margaret-atwood/9780771008795/excerpt

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