Brave New World, 1984, And Fahrenheit 451: The Trope Of Dystopian Novels
20th Century may be defined by these three prominent and very much acclaimed novels of ‘Dystopian futuristic novel’ genre; with all three of them putting some of the most brilliant speculations about the future if their contemporary state of affairs had remained unchanged. Fiction is often a reflection of what we call reality and the art of a novelist is to comment on that reality which haunts them in their wildest nightmares. Such is the case of Brave New World by Aldous Huxley, 1984 by George Orwell, and Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury, each story talking about a distinctive feature of a world that will leave a mark on history and always steer people away from it becoming a reality.
So, let’s dive in…
“None are more hopelessly enslaved than those who falsely believe they are free.”
Published in 1932 following the year when Henry Ford launched his Model T, Brave New World in a dark dystopian novel that is ironically centred around happiness. As Goethe said almost 200 years ago, a false sense of freedom begets the worst enslavement, this world is full of drugs that keep you happy all the time but draw on your capacity to feel emotions; full of sex, pornography, and social orgies that make you forget all the troubles you have; and the worst of all, and this is followed Ford’s godly lineage, adroit facilities so much that one may take thousands of years to consume it all. All of this combined would make one feel totally in control of life for there is no sad memory nor there is a possibility of failure, a world that only shows hope, consolation, and reassurance without actually providing it. As if this isn’t haunting enough, Huxley attributes this condition of society to a totalitarian government that keeps its citizens from thinking rationally. This is the key point that Huxley wants us to see. Mindless and irrational pleasures drive the world into a pitfall so dangerous that there is no coming back from it. This is what makes the ‘Brave New World’ a great read.
“Big Brother is watching you”
How would you feel if you are constantly being followed or being seen? If you have no freedom to do what you want to do? If even thinking of something may become the cause of your death sentence? I don’t need to tell you how, but that is where ‘the normal’ begins in Orwell’s 1984. Looking at the atrocities committed by Stalin in Russian and by Hitler before him, Orwell wrote a futuristic character called ‘Big Brother’. He redefined the word ‘totalitarian’ when he coined the term ‘Thought Police’, who is always watching over you, noting your facial expressions, and guessing your thoughts. Even a hint towards non-conventional thoughts will get you arrested and thrown off the face of this world for good. That’s how controlling the world of Big brother is.
Besides this, there is one more development (?) that drives me mad every time I think about it, how language influences our thoughts and how our thoughts shape our speech. A separate ministry, Ministry of Truth, controls the usage certain of words, both that must be used and that mustn’t be used, to shape the thoughts through a reduced version of a dictionary. When not introduced to certain ideas or words, the intellectual growth is bound to be stunted and that is the truest form of oppression, in my opinion.
- Fahrenheit 451 – Ray Bradbury
“It was a pleasure to burn”
It wasn’t the first time when Ray Bradbury wrote about Fake News. There have been instances before ‘Fahrenheit 451’ first came out in 1953. Authoritarians like Hitler loved (?) controlling the flow of information, especially the part when he burned the books he didn’t like. Bradbury, a bookworm like myself, infuriated at the thought of it wrote a whole book where reading or owning a book can get you all wet in kerosene and lit up a minute later, a world devoid of any meaning or feelings attached to one’s actions.
We follow a man, Guy Montag, a fireman whose work is to burn books. He questions the meaning of his actions and gets mad at its non-existence. When a huge army is chasing him to kill him, Fake News channels do the most impressive job, covering up the whole situation with irrelevant news, diverting people from reality, showing them only that stuff what they want. This may sound a bit extreme but, hey! Do you know what you’re watching for news? This is the most relevant novel compared to our time and that’s why it’s on my must-read books.
So that concludes our little list of three most prominent sci-fi dystopian novels. Each one has a unique message for the modern world despite belonging to the same genre. One may find them similar from a narrative point of view simultaneously noting the edifying differences that shape modern world timelessly.
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