Definition of dystopia
Lois Lowry considers her novel The Giver to be a dystopian novel for young adults. A dystopia is the opposite of a utopia ("dys" = bad). Utopias present ideal, positive futures. In a dystopia, on the other hand, we have a future society that experience various restrictions and injustices.
Dystopias are commonly linked with war, diseases, environmental and social crises, and totalitarian society. A society living under a totalitarian regime has its freedoms heavily restricted and lacks basic rights.
In totalitarian societies , the media and propaganda are often used as instruments of power, and people's private and emotional lives are strictly controlled. Examples of novels with dystopian elements are: Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World, Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury, and Kazuo Ishiguro’s Never Let Me Go. Through such novels, the authors want to warn about the developments our society can take.
At the beginning of Lowry's novel The Giver, the narrator presents an ideal and thoroughly organized future society. After Jonas is chosen as the successor to the Receiver of Memory and acquires new knowledge of what the world used to be like, he begins to see the negative sides of the beautiful world in which he lives. The utopia then turns into a dystopia. Jonas no longer wants to live in this community and therefore flees.
Totalitarian regime with total surveillance
The society presented in the novel The Giver is ruled in an authoritarian and dictatorial manner by the Committee of Elders, headed by the Chief Elder. In the community, all decisions are made by the Elders. The private lives of its members are meticulously pre-planned from ...