What is Dystopian Fiction?

Dystopian fiction criticizes current trends, societal norms or political systems. It shows an imagined oppressed futuristic society as an illusion of a perfect society. It is the opposite of a utopian society, an ideally perfect society in terms of politics, law, customs and conditions.

Typically in dystopian fiction propaganda is used to control citizens, information and independent thought is restricted, a figurehead is worshipped by the citizens, citizens have a fear of the outside world and citizens conform to uniform expectations. These negative aspects of life are monitored by the figureheads. The figureheads propagate the illusion of living in a perfect utopian society.

Societies are controlled in a number of ways in dystopian fiction. There can be total corporate control, where one or more corporations control the society through media, advertising and products. Bureaucratic control negatively affects the society through regulations and incompetent government officials. Technological control is where the society is controlled by robots, computers or other technological means. Finally, philosophical or religious control enforces ideology through dictatorship or total theocratic government.

Dystopian Fiction and Nineteen Eighty-Four

Nineteen Eighty-Four depicts a society led by a totalitarian political party. It is a society where "Big Brother is watching you" everyday, the citizens are constantly being watched for signs of rebellion. Media is heavily controlled. Citizens are being watched by the Thought Police. The inner-party promotes a language, Newspeak, to restrict the vocabulary and ultimately thoughts of the citizens. In this frightening dystopian society, the protagonist, Winston Smith, struggles to understand his true thoughts, feelings and actions untouched by Big Brother and the Party.