Utopian/Dystopian Visions: Plato, Huxley, Orwell

Nic Panagopoulos


This paper attempts to theorize two twentieth-century fictional dystopias, Brave New World (2013) and Nineteen Eighty-Four (1984), using Plato’s political dialogues. It explores not only how these three authors’ utopian/dystopian visions compare as types of narrative, but also how possible, desirable, and useful their imagined societies may be, and for whom. By examining where the Republic, Brave New World, and Nineteen Eighty-Four stand on such issues as social engineering, censorship, cultural and sexual politics, the paper allows them to inform and critique each other, hoping to reveal in the process what may or may not have changed in utopian thinking since Plato wrote his seminal work. It appears that the social import of speculative fiction is ambivalent, for not only may it lend itself to totalitarian appropriation and application—as seems to have been the case with The Republic—but it may also constitute a means of critiquing the existing status quo by conceptualizing different ways of thinking and being, thereby allowing for the possibility of change.


Utopia, Dystopia, Speculative Fiction, Social Engineering, Cultural Politics, Censorship

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.7575/aiac.ijclts.v.8n.2p.22


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