English 10 (ENG201) Master Course
Dystopian Literature - Notes
Often times we will refer to a perfect, seemingly almost magical place called Utopia. Utopia is this fictional world where everything is perfect. It is so perfect that everything is perfect, life is perfect, people are perfect, and people are perfectly content. The world knows no evil and no harm.
To first understand an idea of a dystopia, we must first understand the idea of a utopia--perfection. Dystopia literally means "bad place" in Greek. The idea of it sounds just like the translation--it is a bad place.
This "bad place" is often characterized by a society suffering from human misery, squalor, oppression, disease, and overcrowding. It is almost always portrayed in a future time because it is a place that we cannot connect to on a personal level. This society is meant to be taken as a warning.
As stated before, dystopian literature is set in the future and describes a society in which we do not want to live. It alerts readers to the potential pitfalls and dangers a society may encounter if they are not fully aware of the course they are taking.
Dystopian literature usually presents themes or lessons detailing moralistic and ethical behavior. To determine these themes, try asking yourself the questions: "What message is the author trying to tell me about this world, this society?" or "What am I supposed to learn from this place?"