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Dystopian fiction is rooted in the real world. Discuss.

Dystopian fiction is a very catchy genre of writing. Unlike its opposite genre named ‘utopian’ fiction, dystopian fiction portrays the world in a very dark light. It spreads the sense of such hopelessness that can even impact people in real-world situations. So, yes a lot of it is ‘rooted in the real world’.

Dystopia’ as a term was coined by John Stuart Mill in 1868 as the opposite of Thomas More'sUtopia’. When utopia was supposed to refer to a fictional ‘perfect’ world, dystopia was meant to refer to a fictional (or even impending) destructive world when there would neither be any good nor even the hope for it. 

This concept began being applied to literature during the 1920s and 1930s when dark stories started being produced by the agitated people. There was social, political and economic unrest in the real world only that caused people to anticipate negative consequences. Modern dystopian fiction; however, came into place during and after the 20th century, when pessimistic ideas were applied to literature, as well as movies.

Certain themes of dystopian fiction are as follows:

Lack of Chances of Survival

Dearth of Amenities

Technological Control

Government Manipulation

Hegemony of Corporations

Massive Destruction

A lot of concerns in this genre actually arise from the situations in the real world only. For instance, the fears against development in technology spawned quite a few pieces of literature where everything gets out of control and the human race is devastated. For instance, the recent Black Mirror series portrays a very dark side of people’s general inhibitions with respect to technological innovation.

Another example could be of The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins that demonstrates a world that’s too superficial and hollow. Through the portrayal of a certain class as the only true ‘content’ one in the fictional world, it touches upon the deepest fears of the general population. The destitute population of the other districts also alludes to the extreme income inequality that exists between different factions and nation-states.

Some more examples could be:

The Time Machine by H.G. Wells (1895): one of the earliest works in the genre depicting the chances of scientific destructive potential.

V for Vendetta by Alan Moore (1982): demonstrates the loss of freedom, personal agency and individuality as a result of totalitarian control by the government.

A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess (1962): a satirical novel with extremely dark humour portraying a future society with a subculture of youth’s violence.

The themes have been observed in hundreds of works by different authors and they are mostly based in real-world concerns. Therefore, without a doubt dystopian fiction has deep roots in the real world situations; the latter does actually play a part in spawning the former!

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