An essay i prepared on what English literature is really for. This article mainly focuses on dystopia style texts such as 1984 and Brave New World, as they, in my opinion, are the most meaningful.
Dystopian literature has been produced over a span of many years, by some of the greatest artists the world has seen. These pieces are not for naught, however, and have served to warn us of a bleak future. Writing is also good for the soul, and many authors have used their pen to portray their feelings and emotions as well as the lessons they have learned through life. Texts such as 1984 (George Orwell) and Brave New World (Aldous Huxley) serve to warn us of what will happen if we continue to live like this, letting us know about what the authors think about the hell-hole we will soon and inevitably call Earth.
Dystopian is a form of writing in a bleak way, with a corrupt world and the opposite of "Utopia" (a perfect world). These generally warn us about what will happen if we continue to live like this, and present us with a dark future which it will trigger. In 1984, we see that the world is a totalitarianism government, where no opposition is allowed, and propaganda is in the air.
The "Two Minutes of Hate" is a period in which the leader forces everyone to feel rage, to swear and curse at their enemies. The government portrays the enemy leader as an evil man, with nothing good to offer in this world. This indicates the massive power the government has, showing us what will happen if we let politicians become too powerful. The author in this text compares Fascism and Communism in one group, even though they are direct opposites. The reason behind this is that no matter what type of government they are, with too much power corruption will occur.
George Orwell / Pixabay
Every movement you make is monitored through your TV, and the police arrest anyone who they suspect are against the government, showing that the government can do anything they want and get away with it. "Brave New World" is the opposite; the government lets anyone do anything, including drugs and celibacy. They in turn condition all citizens minds at childbirth - sometimes even before. Babies are shown flowers and rainbows, and they giggle and laugh with delight. However, the scientists then give them painful electric shocks. When these images are brought to the infants again, they run away in fear.
This makes them conditioned for life, so the government makes "Epsilons", a race of humans whom are all brain damaged. The Epsilons follow orders without protest, without uprising. These two ideas have almost nothing in common, yet they share the same ultimate effect - a world where the government has ultimate power. Authors use this terrifying effect to shock us, and to never let politicians have too much power, because this is the effect - Totalitarianism.
Authors commonly use world events to inspire their work, and give us terrible ideas about the effect these events will have if it goes on. In Blade Runner (Directed by Ridley Scott), the world is inhabited by humans and "Replicants", a near perfect copy of a human. However, replicants are outlawed and the special police force - Blade Runners - are set to kill any of them on discovery.
"This is not called murder - This is called Retirement", it says in the opening prologue. This statement portrays that replicants are not human, which the author thought of when watching the Vietnam War on television. The Viet Cong were treated as if they weren't human, and through this, the author realizes that the American troops are just as bad as the enemy. The idea intensifies with the characters personalities - Tyrell, the inventor of all replicants, doesn't even care about his creations, which is proven in him saying: "Commerce is our goal at Tyrell Corporation."
The author purposely makes many humans in this film seem worse than the replicants. He blurs the line of humanity, making us think about whether emotions are more important than being genetically born.
Writers often convey their fears about the rapid advancements in technology, especially in works created in the 20th Century. In Brave New World, humans are mass produced using a factory production line. This is an indication of the fear of Ford's invention, and he thinks using the logic: "If cars come first, what's next? Humans?" In Blade Runner, the replicants start out as menial slaves, doing the hard work for the humans. However, they mutiny and turn on their creators.
This idea is a common worry of people in the 20th century, as they fear that computers are too advanced, more intelligent than us, so they will one day take over. Even today, scientists in Japan have created a robot which can learn and think. We also see the "Void Kampf" test, an emotion test to determine whether or not you are a replicant. They maximize the lens on your pupil, watching for dilation. The idea of having someone stare into your soul is unnerving, and we are warned that we will lose our humanity if we keep discovering new things.
These are all examples of how nothing is purely for entertainment. Writers use their pen to convince us not to live like this, to change our ways before it's too late. Hitler and Stalin are only the start, these works say. Trashing our planet will do no good, and we have been warned. Are we really that horrible? We must think hard about this fact, wondering whether fiction will become reality...
The effects of English Literature, can be life-changing.