A dystopia does not pretend to be good, while an anti-utopia appears to be utopian or was intended to be so, but a fatal flaw or malefactor has perverted it (Maven Word of the day). Far to often these two terms are thought to be synonymous. Although they are similar, as said in the quotation above, there is a difference between dystopias and anti-utopias. The concept of an anti-utopia is quite prevelant in George Orwell’s 1984, Anthony Burgess’ A Clockwork Orange, and Siegfried Sassoon’s The Hero.
The lifestyle somebody leads may seem to people to be acceptable, fun, or even create the illusion of a utopia, when in actuality their actions either wind up hurting themselves or the ones they love. The danger of false allies can also tie in with this concept; somebody who is making a character feel safe, may actually be a person who would do nothing to hinder the character’s demise, or even be the one plotting it. Characters take actions that they think will improve their situations, but deluded by hubris they often cannot. Rather than free them their actions put them in jeopardy.
The protagonist of each work I discuss, Winston in 1984, Alex in A Clockwork Orange, and Jack in The Hero deludes himself that he can create a utopia when in reality in each case misguided actions lead to death or imprisonment. The feeling of leading a self-beneficial lifestyle is often a misleading one. For example in the poem The Hero, Jack, who is the war hero in the poem, decides to go away to war. ” ‘Jack fell as he’d have wished,’ the mother said. ” (Sassoon, S. The Hero) This quote is expressing Jack’s patriotism, and how he wished to die for his country.
This also implies that Jack was excited to go to war, and viewed it as a positive thing, or even fun, to go and fight for his country. When he got there he was nothing but horrified, this is made obvious in this passage from the poem: “He thought how Jack, cold-footed, useless swine/ Had panicked down the trench that night the mine. ” The battlefield was initially viewed as a glorious place to be, and an excellent way to serve your country, but in actuality is a horrifying, dreadful place that will do nothing but generate violence, and many senseless deaths.
In saying this, this was is a place made out to be a utopia, but in actuality, it is an anti-utopia. In A Clockwork Orange the main character, Alex leads his life of crime knowing that nothing bad will come happen to him, because he has his droogies behind him. Not only his close circle, but also people around the town willing to create an alibi for him and his friends. He loves his criminal lifestyle simply because it feels good. It is not for the money that he does these horrible things, it is simply for the pleasure it gives him.
Anything that gives somebody that much freedom, and that much pleasure is clearly a perfect world to them. This was Alex’s perfect world. ” ‘Oh just keep walking’ I said. ‘And viddy what turns up, oh my little brothers. ‘” (Burgess, A. 6) Here Alex is assuring his droogs that they will be able to perform some ultra-violence that night. This illustrates how much they love this life of crime and that the four of them get gratification from their violent acts. While being violent, committing rape, and dishing out horrorshow tolchocks, these kids feel invincible.
Little to Alex’s knowledge, his acts will eventually lead to him being beaten by his victims, and tortured by the very people he hurts to in the construction of his own apparent utopia. This of course would change his little world from a place where everything is perfect, to a place where things only seem to be as such, and actually are horrible for little Alex. People begin to turn on him, and he loses his control over his droogies and society. At this point even his closest friends are contemplating a mutiny in their group.
Once Alex is reformed, and unable to commit the ugly deeds that used to give him so much pleasure, he is still viewed by society as a hell-raising monster. People that he has done wrong unto in the past seek out revenge upon him. Even his parents have replaced him, and have a lodger living in his bed. Alex’s actions that used to bring him such great joy are now the cause of his great emotional and physical pain. In 1984 the protagonist Winston Smith, is a very depressed fellow, due to the oppression of his government. He, much like Jack from The Hero, and Alex from A Clockwork Orange, chooses not to follow a boring lifestyle.
Instead he searches for something that will bring them some excitement and happiness, something that will give them the illusion of a perfect world. Winston however seeks love out as his saviour from the cage that is life in 1984. He meets a girl named Julia, and he falls in love with her. Of course he never shows this in public, out of fear that a telescreen, or the thought police may see him. Once he meets this girl, she changes him; she gives him the incentive to rebel and have fun. He becomes very interested in the secret brotherhood, and the demise of the INGSOC party.
When speaking to O’Brien, whom Winston suspects runs the brotherhood, Winston says: ” ‘We believe that there is some kind of conspiracy, some kind of secret organisation working against the party, and that you are involved in it. We want to join it and work for it. We are enemies of the party. ‘” (Orwell, G. 177) This only shows how intent he is on escaping his life of imprisonment, and to attain some amount of freedom. He spills out his beliefs in hopes that O’Brien shares them, when if he didn’t, it would be the end of Winston, the thought police would take him away.
He wants so badly for this brotherhood to be real that he acts as though it is, even when the consequences could be fatal. When the telescreen is turned off, Winston feels free to say what he wants. This has created an anti-utopia. This is an anti-utopia because Winston thinks he is safe from the eyes of the party, but really he is being watched, and O’Brien is a member of the thought police. This belief in his temporary perfect world leads to his capture by the thought police. Just as Jack believed his world was perfect, and Alex believed his world was perfect, their over confidence in their lifestyles leads to the end of them.
Often individuals can be lured into anti-utopias by people who give them a false sense of security. These people are called false allies. In all three of the pieces of literature being discussed, the protagonist has false allies who lead to their demise. In The Hero Jack went away to war, with hopes of serving his country, and making a difference. During WWI there was a lot of propaganda making going away to war look like a fun thing to do, and not only that, but the right thing to do. There were no warnings that one may die at war, or that it was a dangerous thing to do.
The government, and the army, who are ones who created this propaganda, created a anti-utopia for the soldiers, making them think that they were going away to have fun, and to fight for their country. In reality, these men were going away to live with diseases and poverty, and would most likely die. “how he’d tried/ To get sent home, and how, at last, he died/ Blown to small bits. And no one seemed to care” (Sassoon, S. The Hero) This quote shows how little the government and the officers cared about the soldiers, all they cared about was getting a lot of them. They had no interest in their well being.
They led the young soldiers to their deathbed, by advertising the war as something positive and glorious, and not warning people of the risks. In A Clockwork Orange, Alex encounters many false allies; probably the best example of this is Dr. Branom and Dr. Brodsky. Prior to Alex being exposed to the awful films and torture that they give him, they make this new treatment out to be nothing but a quicker way to get out of jail and to be reformed. When Alex asks what is in store for him, they never tell him that it is going to be painful, or how it will affect him.
Alex asks what the new treatment consists of and Dr. Branom simply answers ” ‘It’s quite simple, really. We just show you some films. ‘” (Burgess, A. 73) Although this is not a lie per-se, because they do show him films, it is very misleading. Branom makes it sound as though he is just going to watch a couple of nice movies. Really the films Alex is going to watch are ones that will torture him, make him sick to his stomach, and take away his free will. The two doctors did not care about the mental or physical health of Alex; they only cared about making a name for themselves, and making advancements in science.
The misleading information that they gave to Alex made the treatment appeal to him, and so he went through with it. He had trust in these doctors, and believed they had saved him from the awful prison and brought him to a better place. “I lay on the bed thinking this was like real heaven” (Burgess, A. 74). This is a quote by the narrator, Alex, speaking about this new facility he was in, the doctors made him think that this place was great, in hopes that he would help them in their research. Their plan works. They had duped Alex into thinking that they were his allies, thus an anti-utopia was created.
He had signed papers and now he was theirs to do with whatever they wanted. In 1984, Winston finds a junk shop where he can buy things from the past, and try to figure out what went on before the rule of INGSOC and Big Brother. Inside this shop, was a humble, and caring little shop owner, by the name of Mr. Charrington. This man seems to support Winston, and his rebellious life-style, and empathises with his hate for the party. He gains Winston’s trust by showing him the room upstairs. When Charrington takes Winston to the upstairs. Winston observes: “‘There’s no telescreen! he could not help murmuring. ‘Ah’ said the old man, ‘I never had one of those things. ‘”(Orwell, G. 100-101) By telling Winston that there is no telescreen, he implies that Winston is safe, and this room could be somewhat of a sanctuary for him. This leads Winston into later renting the room out and living there with his mistress. In actuality there is a telescreen in this room, it is just hidden behind a picture. Also, Mr. Charrington is actually not the kindly old man he makes himself out to be. He is nothing more than a deceitful, dishonest pawn used by Big Brother to catch Winston and Julia.
Charrington pretending to be a comrade and an ally of Winston’s leads him into becoming over confident thinking he is free from all worries in his room, and eventually being detained and brainwashed by the thought police in the ministry of love. Going away to war can be viewed as an act of confidence. You would never go anywhere where there were to be deaths, if you were thinking you were going to be the one dying. Therefore I can conclude that when Jack went off to war, he probably was confident that his country was far superior, and he was to come out unharmed. Overconfident people are more likely to wage in war, but fare worse in the ensuing battles… mentally healthy people can have highly optimistic predictions, or ‘positive illusions’… in present day, optimism may wreak havoc on international relations” (Khamsi, R. Overconfidence is a Disadvantage at War) When Jack was in the trenches, it was not at all what he had expected.
He was not prepared for such a gruesome experience. The fact that he was ill prepared for war, made him panic. Had panicked down the trench that night the mine/ Went up at Wicked Corner; how he’d tried/ To get sent home, and how, at last, he died” (Sassoon, S. The Hero) This passage tells about how Jack panicked in the trenches, and died because of it. Since his ill preparation was due to his over confidence, and his panic due to his ill preparation, and his death due to his panic, it was Jack’s own hubris that killed him. He had created a perfect world of heroic adventures for himself in his mind, and then when he was actually in this world, it was one of horrible terrifying experiences, thus an anti-utopia.
Jack, like Alex, and Winston, had embraced the utopian idea that he could control the world around him and, like the others, is destroyed when it becomes clear that he in fact has no control over his situation. Alex, after having his authority questioned the night before, in a heated discussion sparked when he struck the largest of his three droogies, he wanted to show why he was the boss. He and his three droogs had decided to do some ultra violence on an old lady’s home. After a failed attempt at getting her to open the door by pretending they had a wounded man with them, Alex decided he would gain entry another way.
He told his droogs he would get in, and then open the door for them, so they could all partake in the ultra violence. Once Alex got inside, he was having second thoughts about his plan. “I thought to myself that I would show these fickle and worthless droogs of mine that I was worth the whole three of them and more. I would do all on my oddy knocky. I would perform the old ultra-violence on the starry ptitsa and on her pusspots if need be, then I would take fair rookerfuls of what looked like real polezny stuff and go waltzing to the front door and open up showering gold and silver on my waiting droogs.
They must learn all about leadership. ” (Burgess, A. 46) This is an example of Alex getting cocky, which he did quite often, however, this time Alex did not achieve the outcome he expects. Without his droogies with him, Alex had no backup. When he tried to attack the homeowner, he slipped in a saucer of her cat’s milk, and he was caught off guard. He was beaten about the head, and it was quite hard for him to overcome the woman. Although he did win the battle, when he went to flee, the police had shown up, and his so called droogs had left him all on his oddy knocky for the police to pick him up.
Had Alex not been so cocky, and let his droogs in as planned, the job would have gone smoother, and he would have gotten away in time. Instead he figured things would be perfect if he went in all alone, and did this by himself. He failed to see the downfall of his plan, all he saw was what could go right, making this situation seem somewhat of a utopia, he would get to perform ultra violence, and he would gain the respect of his droogies back. What Alex didn’t see was what actually happened, he was blind to the downfalls of his plan, making this situation actually an anti-utopia.
Alex’s own hubris led him to being incarcerated by the police, and eventually brainwashed. Unlike Alex, who delighted in brutal, theatrical public self-assertion, Winston had always been a very secretive person. Winston had always been a very secretive person, living in the shadows, fearing and knowing, that the telescreens would one day catch him either writing in his diary, or perhaps doing something even more severe. “Winston could hide from it long enough to write in his diary even though he knew he would get caught eventually”(No Listed Author, Satire In 1984) After he learned of the room above Mr.
Charrington’s shop that had no telescreen, he believed he had found a safe haven. He and Julia knew that they were safe there; because there was no way that the party could be watching them. They did everything and anything the party was against here, they were free to do whatever their heart desired. This room was their getaway place, somewhere where everything was perfect, they believed it to be their utopia. But we must remember that the word ‘Utopia’ comes from the Greek word meaning ‘no place’ or ‘place that does not exist’.
This was far to good to be true. One day while having a conversation in the room they heard a voice, a cold strong voice saying “You are the dead. ” This startled them, and they were instantly stiff with fear. It was then that the picture of a church fell and they saw a telescreen. They then realized that this whole time there had been a telescreen present, they were being watched this whole time. They also then realized that Mr. Charrington was part of the thought police. The two lovers were then brought to the ministry of love, and brainwashed.
There little room was an anti-utopia, it seemed to be a utopia, but it was actually quite the opposite. Hubris led to the inevitable demise of these two lovers, they were too confident in their safe haven, and too content to realize it was too good to be true. Confidence was their tragic downfall, just as it was for Alexand Jack “Is utopia a place where crimes against humanity are committed? Is utopia a place where people can’t choose what to do with their lives? Is a utopia a place where there is no love? Every attempt humans have made to reach a perfect world, has been pointless. Perfection doesn’t exist.
Utopias don’t exist. ” (No Listed Author, The Strange Utopia of The Giver) This supports what is said in the above essay, utopias are true to their Greek meaning, “place that does not exist” because they do not exist. If one disagrees and believes that they are living in a utopia, it results from either over confidence or being misled by the false claims of others or both. Rather than striving for utopias we must strive to be as aware of our surrounding as possible to prepare for and ideally minimize the dangers that are always a part of human existence and exist within any social system.