The Giver – Cultural Studies

Utopia and Dystopia

For thousands of years, humans have dreamt of a perfect world: no unhappiness, no war, no hunger. The term utopia means a perfect world. The term was first used by Sir Thomas More in his book Utopia in 1516.
Utopias connote ideal societies which are built with a perfect design. In utopias, usually the government is reliable, the citizens are equal and everything is safe. Mostly utopias are seen as fiction or figment of the imagination because living in an ideal world is considered to be unattainable. Plato’s Republic , Sir Francis Bacon’s New Atlantis and Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels can be shown as perfect examples for utopian novels.
Dystopia, on the other hand, is the direct opposite of utopia. A dystopia means a world in which nothing is perfect.
Dystopias are kind of warning for the people about the government or the people in the power. One dystopian book, Nineteen Eighty Four , which was written by George Orwell, is a good example of an obsessively controlling government. The government in The Giver, which is called the Committee of Elders, can also be given as one of the examples of obsessive governments. Every decision is made by the government. The people are not given any chances to choose and they are expected to obey all the rules. Other dystopian examples can be Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World , Rad Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 and George Orwell’s Animal Farm.
Dystopias often portray a utopia in which things have gone wrong. For example, In The Giver, Jonas’s community seems to be a utopia, but it turns out to be a dystopia. At first sight, the community seems perfect and everything is in a decent order. However, this excellent order becomes scary over time.

For further information about utopian and dystopian novels:

Difference Between Utopia and Dystopia