1984 by George Orwell and Rash by Pete Hautman depicts the way of life in dystopian societies. George Orwell’s 1984 novel was written in 1949 to give a retrospective view of life in the distant utopian Society 36 years ahead. On the other hand, Rash by Pete Hautman looks at distant dystopian society set in 2074. The 1984’s futuristic purgatory is nightmarish but increasingly become real for those living in the 1984 era and is still relatable to those alive in 2016 today. The two books were published in decades ago to explore a possible future life on earth where totalitarian bureaucracy is the order of the day. With the technology advancing faster than other developments, the ubiquity of the television and the CCTV is envisaged and the general distortion of the language becoming commonplace. George Orwell and Pete Hautman adeptly use language to describe hell only to realize that hell on earth is the year 1984 and 2074 respectively. This paper argues that “Human beings are increasingly constrained by chemical, structural and situational elements in the society as free will is becoming illusionary.”
In the 1984 totalitarian bureaucracy, power is split between different groups headed by administrators in Eastasia, Eurasia, and the Oceania. In the Oceania where the novel is set in a town called Airstrip One, Winston Smith is an underlying member of the ruling elite who demonstrates unhealthy character in a military society. While Smith was initially working in Records Department in the Ministry of Truth, He later becomes a member of the brotherhood opposed to the big brother movement. The Oceania is ruled by only one party, an oligarchy known as The Party. The party is responsible for total control of the Oceania and has introduced 24 hours surveillance. The big brother watches everyone’s move, and speech just like the internet and counter surveillance of today is seen in most countries. Everyone is surveyed by a secret government which is mainly under the control of omnipresent and omnipotent big brother. In his attempt to control the future, Winston attempts to control the past (van den Berg 98-124).
Although Winston lived in a hopeless and unfriendly world, he starts to question authority and power. Along the way, to realizes that he has to reexamine the beliefs and the way of life of everyone living in the year 1984. He questions the policies of the national government and the global government. The novel is more relatable today as the whole world is under 24 hour surveillance. In as much as this was a depiction of a dystopian society, there are a number of relatable situations, changes, and events in the 1984 dystopian society that are observable today. For example, big brother is a real modern world phenomenon that was foreshadowed by George Orwell in 1984. The current bureaucratic government is increasingly changing into a totalitarian government in which the government exercises an absolute and centralized control over the citizens who are completely subordinated to the government (Akkoyun 447-447).
Even though the 1984 society is a bureaucratic society, the 2074 society is a totalitarian society where people’s freedom is completely curtailed by the government. For example in Rash, a future dystopian society life is explored. The novel overviews a possible future life in a corporation nation state where the people’s freedom is suppressed by the government. The United Safer States of America’s government is discharging its peace and safety obligation and protecting the citizens. In the USSA, citizens such as Bo Marsten, 16, and his family have to give up their freedom in favor of their society’s safety (Todd 309-310). In the dystopian society of 2074, everyone has to relinquish their freedom as the totalitarian government crushes any opposing, and autonomous institutions. For example, when Bo Marsten, is captured (his entire family is in jail), he had to use his talent and artificial intelligence skills to serve the government and secure his little freedom. Bo Marsten has athletic ability that the government wants to exploit so he is taken to prison because of his recklessness and Rash (Ansari 155-155).
The United Safer States of America (USSA) is the government which is developed and controlled under the safety goals. The USSA uses its safety and security objectives to suppress, and oppress the citizens. The rules are so harsh and flimsy that the reckless members of the society has to jail for minor mistakes including recklessness and or safety to wear protective Gears. 24% of the USSA are found guilty and incarcerated (Gonçalves). But because of the government’s greed, the incarcerated people are subjected to work for the large corporations that are running the government. For example, Bo Marsten is sentenced to work for McDonald plant 3-8-7 by the government main litigation body the Federal Department of Homeland Health, Safety, and Security (FDHHSS). However, because of his intelligence, Bo Marsten, develops a robot to minimize his time at the company such that instead of making Pizza he absconds work to play for an illegal football team in Gold shirt
Character and plot development
In both books, plot twists and suspense control the reader’s pace as each one has to read forth and back to get a better understanding of the future events in comparison with the past events. For example, while Bo Marsten, is jailed to the maximum term and grows older in jail, Smith is seen as a traitor to the brotherhood movement. Smith changes to a bad person from a good person both obedient and hardworking to and for the government, while Bo Marsten moves from truant in jail to changed person outside the cells. The change in the character of the major characters creates a relatable picture of a good boy gone bad and bad guy gone good (Pass and Flouris 189-203).
All the characters are developed and shaped by their immediate environment. The initial settings help in developing the characters of the people. For example, Bo, his grandfather, and other family members’ character are developed by the author and are adequately explained by the author. If all the actors could sacrifice their freedom for the sake of the public safety that the dystopian world would be complete, but this is not the case as the personal freedoms were curtailed for the benefit of the government. Just like in the modern society like America, most of the politicians and government reforms are sponsored by the corporations, but then the corporations are merely focused on the corporation’s main bottom-line that is to maximize the shareholder’s wealth.
The common imperfection of the dystopian societies is that they thrive on the oppression of the humanity dignity and freedom. In the future word, human freedom will be curtailed by the government, big brother and machines. Everyone will be a pawn in the chess table as the government is manipulated by the future corporation for their benefits. The only survivors in the dystopian societies are the corporations and the government that agrees to abide by their rules. It is also important to note that as time goes by, the imperfections of the dystopian societies described in the two novels are increasingly becoming reality today because there are a lot more legal reforms, laws, and bills that are all focused on promoting corporate growth, consumerism culture of buying safety gears than on promoting citizen’s safety or wellbeing.
Why should the punishment for failing to wear kneepad be comparable to the punishment for murder? BO just failed to wear his protective shoes, knee pads, elbow pads, neck brace, tooth guard, wrist monitor and sports helmet on his daily 100 meters run, but that alone lead to his incarceration. On the other hand, smith just decided to write his dairy but that alone amounted to incarcerations. Some people were in jail for just verbally abuse another for overeating or physical appearance. These were the laws that were designed in the dystopian societies to suit the corporation’s needs for the workforce and this is relatable today. Most of the laws in America were designed to help protect the interest of the elites un-American. There are many laws that are designed to ensure that many more minority groups are incarcerated the only difference is that the incarcerated at not working for the corporations. If the government wanted to help the incarcerated people they could design appropriate punishment that would help develop the character of the incarcerated.
The dystopian societies are not imagination, but a true prediction of the fate of man in the future societies. There are a lot of problems that face the future societies amongst them productivity, resource scarcity, and economic greed. However, all these problems can, unfortunately, be solved by the corporations. The government will be manipulated by the corporation to increase surveillance and capture more slaves to work for the future societies. In the whole puzzle, the corporation’s greed for profit would lead to the enslavement of the human race. The dystopian societies may not be a distant future as most of the phenomena described in Rash and 1984 are clearly becoming a reality today and will become more real in the near future when the failing economies would be controlled but the corporations and not the government and the only source of labor would be prison labor from prisons run by McDonald’s Rehabilitation and Manufacturing.
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