The Role Of Dystopian Society In Ayn Rand's Anthem and Orwell's 1984


Freedom of speech is a luxury that not everyone has. This is true for the novels 1984, by George Orwell, and Anthem, by Ayn Rand, in which, the government has control over everything and everyone without their awareness. The societies in the novels 1984 and Anthem are characterized as dystopian societies because the citizens worship authoritarian concepts and are terrified of the outside world.  

The societies in 1984 and Anthem are considered dystopian because the residents of the societies worship concepts that control them. For instance, Winston, the protagonist from 1984, says his “secret loathing of Big Brother changed into adoration, and Big Brother seemed to tower up, an invincible, fearless protector” (Orwell 15). Even though Big Brother kept citizens under constant surveillance, his propaganda convinced people he was protecting them from enemies. Therefore, making people praise him. In addition, Equality 7-2521, the protagonist in Anthem, lived in a society where people praised an authoritarian concept. The Council of Vocations, the council that assigns jobs, tells Equality, “You shall do that which the Council of Vocations shall prescribe for you. For the Council of Vocations knows in its great wisdom where you are needed by your brother men” (Rand 22). Despite the Council of Vocations using job assignments as a form of control, people believe the Council of Vocations is a higher and wiser power. Thus, everyone obeys the council’s orders without complaint. 

Another dystopian characteristic found in the novels is the members of society fearing the outside world. As an example, in Goldstein’s Book, a book about a conspiracy against Big Brother, Winston read, “He is forbidden the knowledge of foreign languages. If he were allowed contact with foreigners, he would discover that they are creatures similar to himself and that most of what he has been told about them is lies” (Orwell 196). The citizens of Oceania had been taught that foreigners are criminals that needed to be arrested, hence, people were afraid of the people and places beyond what they knew. Likewise, the citizens of Equality’s society were taught to be afraid of the Uncharted Forest, which was a place from the Unmentionable Times unexplored by men. Equality says, “It is whispered that once or twice in a hundred years, one among them men of the City escape...to the Uncharted Forest...They perish from hunger and from the claws of wild beasts which roam the Forest” (Rand 48). Stories of deadly animals and disappearing people were made up to create a fear of the Forest, consequently preventing people from wanting to leave their perfect society. 

In conclusion, the governments in the novels 1984 and Anthem use propaganda as a control tactic to influence people’s opinions. The authoritarian concepts of the control in the novels 1984 and Anthem create a praise of authoritarian concepts and a fear of the world beyond the one they live in.

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