Keene State College
Mentor: Dr. Robin Hackett, Department of English
The Explosion of Dystopias in Britain: George Orwell and Politics in a Time of War
The utopian genre has come to project the highest aspirations and worst fears of a society, entering readers and authors into a conversation about social direction. Dystopias provides clear examples of this literary manifestation of social concerns, the author acting as a social critic speaking to the larger population. In this research I explore two novels by George Orwell and analyze the relationship between the role of politics in these novels as compared to the politics surrounding WWII, the period when the novels were written. The novels I intend to include are Animal Farm and 1984. Some pertinent historical evidence to consider includes: the anti-war sentiment, Britain’s perceived role in the war, and internal politics such as social class and the Ministry of Information. My goal is to explain the relationship between the increased production of dystopian works as the result of pessimism and fear that was experienced during this time period, using political structure as a primary theme through which these fears were given substance in novels.
Why certain concerns find their way into the literature, how the audience responds to this inscription, and what benefit this understanding might provide society is important to future authors and audiences. The reader response to these novels is of critical importance, and therefore must also be examined, to support the idea that it is the conversation between author and reader which constitutes dystopian literature as a realistic catalyst for social change.