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The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood and Brave New World by Aldous Huxley.

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Introduction

While there are many differences between the societies portrayed in dystopic literature, they still have the common bond of lacking the fundamental freedoms required for a properly operated society to exist. This cannot be truer for The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood and Brave New World by Aldous Huxley. These novels prove that the individual's freedom are sacrificed in dystopic societies when the government controls the knowledge, individuality and relationships of each person in order for there to be stability in the society. Dystopia is shown in each of the novels through: the use of conflict demonstrating the authority over knowledge, the use of theme to establish the lack of identity and the use of character to show the control of knowledge. It is evident in both novels that a dystopic society exists through the authors' use of conflict to illustrate the control of knowledge of the past and present in order for there to be stability. For example, in The Handmaid's Tale, all Handmaids are forbidden from reading or writing, this is an attempt by the leaders of the society to control the knowledge their citizens can utilize. This control extends over any form of written word, and if the rules are disobeyed, there are consequences: "Scrabble!.... This was once the game of old women, old men...to be played in retirement villas...when there was nothing good on television.... Now it's forbidden, for us. Now it's dangerous. Now it's indecent.... Now it's desirable" (Atwood 174). In this society, Scrabble is considered "forbidden" because of what it represents -- freedom of expression. The consequences the leaders have imposed create a conflict between them and their citizens, thereby creating the "desire" to play the game despite the danger associated with breaking the rules. The restrictions over expressing oneself is used as a form of keeping citizens in their place, consequently keeping the society stable and running, even though this comes at the cost of the freedom of each individual. ...read more.

Middle

And then we are so much better than the Gammas and Deltas. Gammas are stupid...Oh no, I don't want to play with Delta children. And Epsilons are still worse. They're too stupid...'" (Huxley 24). Each caste in the society is different from the others, leaving little room for individuality between people of the same caste, who must wear the same clothing and even look the same. For that reason, the theme of lack of identity is developed through the caste system where it is impossible for there to be independent thinking. It is this way that the government keeps everyone in order and stabilizes the society by limiting the chance of rebellion through conditioning everyone into his or her own place in the society. Although both societies control the individuality of their citizens, differences still lie in the way the identity of each person is controlled. The control over individuality in each novel is accomplished though different methods in the different novels. In The Handmaid's Tale, control is created from force and the fear as a result. While in the Brave New World, control is established through science as a means of doing so. For example, the leaders of Gilead in The Handmaid's Tale use intimidation and fear to succumb people living under their rule in order for there to be a stable society. After living under the rule of the society, Offred has given up her hopes in order to simply survive: "I will do anything you like.... I don't want to be a doll hung up on the wall.... I want to keep on living in any form. I resign my body freely.... They can do what they like with me. I am an object" (Atwood 357). At first Offred did not want to live her life unless she was in control, at this point in the novel the intimidation of the leaders of Gilead has caused Offred to give up her optimism. ...read more.

Conclusion

Conversely, in Brave New World, it is taught that promiscuity is the normal way to behave in their society. Linda, John's mother has been living outside of the society she has been conditioned in and therefore has contrasting values, which are thought of as depraved: "...the way they have each other here. Mad, I tell you.... Everybody belongs to everyone else - don't they?' ...here...nobody's supposed to belong to more than one person...and if you have people in the ordinary way, the others think you are wicked and anti-social'" (Huxley 109-110). While Linda is on the reservation, she is judged for her views on relationships, she was taught that it is common to not love because of the conditioning everyone has since birth, that way the government eliminates the need for any emotional attachments and all meaningful relationships. Due to her conditioning, Linda is not able to comprehend any other lifestyle other than promiscuity. The morals taught in the Brave New World society are a way for keeping everyone happy and unattached emotionally, and no one will have any feelings to leave the society they are in and rebel; this creates a stable society where individual freedom is sacrificed. Through both The Handmaid's Tale and Brave New World, it can now be seen that dystopic societies will sacrifice the freedoms of their citizens because of their control over knowledge, individuality and relationships of each person in order for there to be stability in the society. Through the use of conflict, dystopia is established in both of the novels using the control of knowledge of the past and present in the society in order for stability. In addition, through the use of theme, dystopia is established using the lack of identity of each member of the society in order for stability to be in the society. Finally, through the use of character, dystopia is established through the control of the relationships in each member of the societies. In order for there to be stability in a society there must be sacrifices made, especially in a society that is considered dystopic. ...read more.

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