Dystopia Definitions:

  • An imagined place or state in which everything is unpleasant or bad, typically a totalitarian or environmentally degraded one.
  • A dystopia is an unpleasant (typically repressive) society, often propagandized as being utopian. The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction states that dystopian works depict a negative view of “the way the world is supposedly going in order to provide urgent propaganda for a change in direction.”
  • The most famous and considered to be the first dystopian novel is H.G. Well’s The Time Machine, published in 1895. The novel is considered to be science fiction( as most dystopian text usually are) but was the beginning of a subgenre eventually becoming dystopia on its own.
  • The word dystopia comes from the words utopia with the addition of dys- meaning simply bad. It was created in the late 18th century, with its first appearance in an author Thomas More’s novel “Utopia”.

Dystopian texts:

  • Hunger games trilogy (Suzanne Collins) BOOK/FILM: government control, oppressive society, rebellion.
  • The year of the flood ( Margaret Atwood) BOOK: Environmental
  • The handmaid’s tale ( Margaret Atwood) BOOK/ TV: Government control, oppressive society, ellitest.
  • Blade runner 2049 (Denis Villeneuve) FILM: last remnants of humanity, collapsing society at hands of elliestism.
  • The Matrix (Lana Wachowski, Lilly Wachowski) FILM: VR world, domination of more advanced species, collapsing society.
  • V for Vendetta (James McTeigue) FILM: oppressive society, rebellion leading to revolution, starts with a single idea or person.
  • Mad Max ( George Miller, George Ogilvie) FILMS: total disrepair of society, fight for survival and control.


  • Centred around the journey of one main protagonist
  • Protagonist is usually an anti-hero, begins journey out for their own gain
  • Plot reaches point of clarity for character where their attitude shifts from that of themselves to the betterment of their greater society, and thus a cause is born or now endeavoured for.
  • Societal context is that our protagonist is on the bottom of society, having only known the worst aspects of their propagandised “Utopia.”
  • Visually: society is gritty in our protagonist’s eyes, city setting usually (or what is left of one), crowded, filth of both mental and physically in our protagonists face daily, dull colours with statement pieces to contrast and accentuate the cheapness of it all. In comparison our elite members of society will usually have cleanliness on and in their settings and clothing to show their own lavishness. Their sets include clean lines and neutral palettes with structure and order.  
  • The values of each member of society in our dystopias are displayed with their clothing, each wearing themselves on their sleeves to communicate to readers or viewers their place in the context of a story.
  • Orally: bottom of society is loud with the sounds of people in every aspect of life, it is a daily commotion that is the set of background noise, noting to a lack of privacy. Top of society experiences a setting of calm and often almost unnerving quiet, showing their wealth again at being able to have a secluded private area, in which they do not have to share with other members of society; it also shows their exclusion of society that does not meet their standards.
  • The way our characters talk is also outlined this way. With elite members having a more refined pattern and accent displayed when reading or watching a text. Bottom members (and usually our protagonist) will use ore colloquial terms and have a rougher tone and speech pattern, or in some cases may not speak at all.


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