Utopia and Dystopia: A Quick Review

Utopian and dystopian classic literature is commonly used for satire and societal critique. Ambiguity and irony are common modes of syntax for novels in this fashion.

This genre was first identified by Sir Thomas More in his 1516 work Utopia. This novel is often described as satirical because the perfections and flaws in the undiscovered land of Utopia parallel that of English society at the time in which it was written.

Since then we’ve had utopian literature and its supposed antithesis, dystopia, though referring to dystopian literature as a direct opposite is inaccurate. Both genres actually share the same purpose: to critique contemporary society. They just use different approaches one form shows the ideal while the other shows the nightmare.

The most recent famous novels to be added to this canon and tradition are The Hunger Games and its sequels. But there is a long list of novels that set the precedent.

Some of the more popular works include Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels, Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World, George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four, Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451, and William Golding’s Lord of the Flies. Many of these feature society in a future setting, showing both the positives and negatives of the history that led to the current condition of the society’s citizens.

It looks as though this genre is prepared for a revival. We have the perfect culture climate to breed these ideas, with the fear of a dying planet and continual war declarations.