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For centrys writers in literature have written about about their ideal world their utopia. This ideal world is a place were every thing is as your heart desires it to be. This is somethig all human beings can relate to , every person has their own vision of how the world should. But what if this eutopia turned into a living nightmare, world full fear,misery,depression and doubt. This would become the criteria of a ” dystpian” worlld. A place far from the fantasys of utopia. In the oxford dictionary of litercy terms “Dystopia” is defined as “an imaginary place or condition in which everything is as bad possible.
The opposite of utopia. ” This exactly the case in the novel “nineteen eighty four” by George Orwell and “the handmaids ale” by Margaret Attwood. In both these novels the autos have created worlds which are dark, suppressed and painful for the characters involved. They have created these worlds to such a great effect that the reader is left thinking about how it would be to live in these dystopia. The critic Bernard Richards once said ‘dystopias are useful; they warn us about what might happen’. This is one of the many strengths about working with the dystopian genre.
Though the novels are depressing which may not be what a reader wants initially from a book, the dystopian genre is extremely thought provoking. It allows the reader to reflect and appreciate the world we have at present. The novels dismal tones make the reader realise that maybe their lives aren’t so bad when in comparison to character involved in these dystpoipian nightmares. Another more positive side to the dystopian genre is that there is generally an important message behind the darkness whether it is political religious etc
Both authors have a similar messages within their books, and these message aer mainly religeous and political ones. Atwood and orwell looked at the world and societys of their times and wrote novels warnings of the dire consequences of fundemental ideal and dictatorship can lead to. In the the handmaids tale a grooup of fundamentalist christians establishes the state of gilead in new england. Imeadiatly all womens rights, such as votin, owwing propewry or making any type of descisions are revoked. The constant civil war in the background of the book has left a majority of women infertile.
Inspired by the biblical tale of rachel and billah, gileiad decres that all fertile women are to act as handmaids. Surrogate mothers who will bear the children of the infertile couples. Atwood weaeves many elements into her book:hatred of feminism, religious bigotry, rascism, enviromental destrution and of course atwood explores the consequences ofa reversal of womens rights. in this totaliterarian society, womens bodys serve purly serve as political tool. Atwoods novel is clearly inspired by the ideals of christian fundametalism and her visit to afganistan in 1978.
A country with a distorted view of islam and led by fundamentalist muslims. This is very much present in the red dress of the handmaid which is very simililar to the chador worn by afgan women. In george orwells 1984, he has constructed a dystopian world in which every individual can be monitoed. There thoughts and actions can be controled by the government. 1984 is said to be one of orwells best crafted novels as it gives an incredibly powerful warning against the dangers of a toterian society. In spain germany, germany and the soviet union orwell had witnessed the danger of absolute political authority in an age of advanced technology.
He illistrated this in 1984 harshly. He portrays the perfect totliterian society, the most extrem realisatioin imaginable of a modern day government with absolute power. Both orwell and atwood have main character by which the story is told to the reader. These two characters have many similartys and differences. In the handmaids tale tale the entire story is told directly from the point of view of ofred . she is narrator and prtagnist of the novel. In 1984 the entre novel is narrated in the third person, through the main character winston.
Both characters are rebels within theier socity and completely against the ideals of their leaders. Winston is very thoughtful in nature and his main attributes are his rebeliousnes and fatalism. Winston hates the party pationatlyand wants to test the limits of its power, he comits a numerous amount amounts of crimethroughout the novel ranging from writing ” DOWN WITH BIG BROTHER” in his diary to his illegal love affair with julia( another character within the book) to secretly getting himself into the anti party brotherhood.
The effert winston puts into his atempt at feedom ultimatly underscores the the partys devstating power. And By the end of the novel winsto is a loyal servent to big brother. The main reason for winstons rebelion and eventual down fall is his imense sense of fatalism. He is intensly paranoid about the party and his belief that the party will eventualy capture him and punish him. “whether he went on with the diary, or whether he did not go on with it, made no difference. The thought police would get him all the same”.
As soon as he writes into his diary he is positive that the thought police are coming for him. Winston is so sur of his doom that this causes him to take unnessary risks, such as trusting o birian , renting a room above the shop and continuing to rebel because of his belief that he will be caught any way. In handmaid tale ofred like winston is a rebel, but unlike winston who rebel externaly, she rebels internaly. Ofred is by no means the heroin of the novel, she resist giliads concepts and ideal but does not act in a physyicaky open way on them.
On the outside she submitts to gileads rules and her role as a handmaid once her attempt at escape fails. She is hardly a feminist champion; she always felt uncomfortable with her mother’s activism, and her pre-Gilead relationship with Luke began when she became his mistress. Although she is friends with Ofglen, who is a member of the resistance, she never makes the move to join up herself. After she begins her affair with Nick, she seems to lose sight of escape and begins to feels that life in Gilead is almost bearable.
If she does finally escape, it is because of Nick, not because of anything she has phisicaly done herself. Offred is a mostly passive character, good-hearted but complacent. Like her peers, she took for granted the freedoms feminism won and now pays the price. Like most of the women in Gilead, she is an ordinary woman placed in an extraordinary situation Another subject or theme which both these dystopian novels share is th esubject of gender. The reprsenttation of male and females especialy in 1984 is very stricking. In 1984 orwell has given women in the novel a very negative light.
Winston who can be said to reflect the voice of orwell has extreamly sexist views towards women. The only women in the novel that can be said to have a more positive oulook is winstons mother. He sees her pure safricial women and constantly reminises about her in the novel. 19984 is a very male dominated novel, there are few females character in it. Julia is the main female charater in the novel, and winstons attidude to her at times is extremly negative “he would flog her to death with a rubber truncheon. he would tie to a stake and shoot her full of arrows….
he would ravish her and cut her throat at the moment of climax” winston applys this vulgar attidude not just to julia but to other female with in the novel ” her thick arms reaching up fo the line , her powerful mare like buttocks protruded” this qote is where winston observes a prole women hanging out her washing and basicaly comparing her to a horse. Julias purpose in the novel is to serve as the male fantasy, she has sex with winston and is very promiscuous in that she has slept with may party men,she brings him forbidden food, she dresses up for him.
The critic and feminist beatrix campbell sees the portralel of women in 1984 as very negative- “women are akin to the proletarian man in orwells work, they are rendered natural rather than skillful, almost infantile in their unconsciousness rather then alert and organised. ” I agree with her views, women are cleary given a dismal outlook, and julias character also a very unrealsistic one. The handmaids tale can be said to be a feminist update of 984, this could also be because of the fact that the author is female. The whole tone to the novel is completely different to the cold, dreary, masculine tones of 1984.