The Dystopian Novel: Brave New World, 1984, The Handmaid's Tale
Dystopian fiction concerns itself with alternative visions of the future of society. Through the study of four novels, we shall examine these visions and how they relate to the genres of the Gothic and science fiction, as well as present day society
Dystopian novels depict visions of society that vary, though most tend to concern themselves with a monolithic and totalitarian state demanding total obedience from its citizens. This course moves from the nightmare totalitarianism of Orwell's 1984, and one man's hopeless struggle against it, to the equally bleak but very different depiction of the perversion of a society which has been rendered scientifically trouble free in Huxley's Brave New World. The third novel is Margaret Atwood's novel of sterility and female subjugation, The Handmaid's Tale, set in the Republic of Gilead. The final novel, The Day of the Triffids by John Wyndham, is a study of the consequences for society of the perversion of science and the subsequent collapse of civilisation, but which ends on a rare note of hope.
Resources for this course