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The Day of the Triffids and Nineteen Eighty Four. A Study Into How Two Different Writers Portray Visions of the Future in a Dystopian Society

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Introduction

A Study Into How Two Different Writers Portray Visions of the Future in a Dystopian Society ?The Day of the Triffids? and ?Nineteen Eighty Four? The future: the indefinite but unavoidable time period after the present. For years, it has been embedded in human nature to predict the happenings of the future through mediums such as art and literature. The future can be divided into its two extremes ? a utopia and a dystopia. A utopia is an ideal community or society possessing a perfect socio-politico-legal system. The word was imported from Greek by Sir Thomas More for his 1516 book Utopia, describing a fictional island in the Atlantic Ocean. The term has been used to describe both intentional communities that attempt to create an ideal society, and fictional societies portrayed in literature. It has spawned many other concepts but most prominently, dystopia. The word "dystopia" traces its roots back to the Greek word "dys" (meaning "bad") and "topos" (meaning "place?). A dystopian society is one which has been degraded into oppression and complete control, frequently under the mask of being utopian. Dystopias are frequently written as warning, or as satires, showing current trends extrapolated to a nightmarish conclusion. Humans were not meant to live in a perfect world. The Bible shows that Adam and Eve were expelled from the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3:23), ostracized from a seemingly perfect and blissful society. We can use this idea of a faulted or imperfect world to compare how two prolific English writers portray visions of the future in a dystopian society. ?The Day of the Triffids?, published in 1951 by English science-fiction author John Wyndham, is centred around the protagonist, Bill Masen, who has made his living working with "triffids"?tall plants capable of aggressive and seemingly intelligent behaviour. They are able to move about by "walking" on their roots, appear to communicate with each other, and possess a deadly whip-like poisonous sting that enables them to kill and feed on the rotting carcasses of their victims. ...read more.

Middle

1984 devotes significant time to examining the centrality of language - contextually, when Syme and Winston speak of the newspeak dictionary and explicitly, through Goldstein's manifesto - to culture, life, history, behaviour, thoughts and power. 1984 also depicts warfare as a necessary tool and symptom of a totalitarian state. Oceania is in constant warfare with one of the other two superstates of the world. This is necessary, as warfare keeps citizens in constant flux and fear ? they then willingly submit to the control of the Party. Only after this submission can the Party regulate supply and demand to ensure classism, and ultimately, power. 1984 details at length the effectiveness of torture as a tool to control subversion in a totalitarian state (or simply one where rights are not central to governing principles). Here, though, it also encompasses mind control, brainwashing, and indoctrination ? torture is not just limited to physical pain. The branch of government that oversees torture at Oceania is ironically named the Ministry of Love. It is, however, effective; through torture, the Ministry is able to transform rebellious minds into loving, accepting ones. Although it was his commercially most successful novel (or because of it), John Wyndham's The Day of the Triffids has often been treated a horror story devoid of ideas rather than a science-fiction novel full of them. Because of this, some major themes have been ignored, despite the fact that they are shared with George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty Four. However, the main theme that is never discussed by critics of either book is, quite simply, permanent horror. It may be that people hate contemplating that possibility that they do not discuss it, but both Nineteen Eighty Four and Day of the Triffids are about an eternity of irrecoverable pain. The only way of escaping it is not to have it start. Furthermore, the two authors are not religious and their eternity of pain is purely on this physical earth. ...read more.

Conclusion

Simply living off of scavenged canned food from London shops isn?t a viable survival strategy on a scale of years. The enclaves that survivors set up in the countryside to attempt to rebuild civilization cannot simply use scavenged ploughs forever, but eventually need to develop the capacity to build their own. This questions whether the human species really are as intellectual as they are made out to be. Could it be that our greed is what will eventually come back to bite us? Even today, we are at war for the sake of precious oil supplies. What justifies sacrificing lives for what is needed for survival? Ultimately, though these two dystopian novels seem very dissimilar at first glance, what ties them together is their effectiveness to scare us. To make us think about what we are doing today, and how it will affect the lives of tomorrow. In a way, it is appropriate to thank those that open our eyes to what we never want see. The fall of civilisation in all its forms. The future is unavoidable and though it is uplifting to address the advances of our species through time, it is unwise to think that there is no such thing as a ?bad world?. Some think this time has already come and we are living through it obliviously, as a result of the way we are programmed in this day and age to maintain the same routine day by day with little change. Nevertheless, we will never stop predicting. It is authors like John Wyndham and George Orwell that aren?t afraid to speak out about our faults as the human race, and it is these people that don?t hide away from the truth that inspire us to challenge our beliefs and recognise what is right. What makes both ?The Day of the Triffids? and ?Nineteen Eighty-Four? such successful novels, is that they make the reader imagine the worst possible situation because, while our future is still unclear, we know this exact terrifying prospect may be what one day becomes a reality. ...read more.

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