Christianity in Dystopia
A dystopian novel addresses societal concerns by asking "what if": what if automation made labor completely superfluous? what if we could divorce life from the realities of reproduction, birth, and death? what if society became utterly captivated by entertainment? For the author of a dystopian novel, the answer is always bad. The "dystopian project," the attempt to solve human problems and create a future Utopia, always ends in disaster. The author of this thesis was struck by the similarity between this "dystopian project," as portrayed by various authors, and Christianity, which also claims to address a human problem (sin) and promises a future utopia (Heaven, the New Jerusalem). Is this similarity coincidental, or purposeful? How does Christianity figure into the dystopian genre? In the course of answering this question, the author proposes a definition of the dystopian novel, and then explores several popular examples for Christian references and elements. The works studied include We (Eugene Zamiatin, 1924), Brave New World (Aldous Huxley, 1932), Anthem (Ayn Rand, 1946), 1984 (George Orwell, 1949), Player Piano (Kurt Vonnegut, 1952), Fahrenheit 451 (Ray Bradbury, 1953), and The Handmaid’s Tale (Margaret Atwood, 1986).
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