Compare how Orwell in 1984 and The Wachowski Brothers in The Matrix construct their bleak visions of the future.
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What is interesting about both of these examples of dystopia is the way that the oppression experienced by the inhabitants of both of these worlds is reflected in the rather drab and black-and-white setting. In Orwell's dystopia, for example, Victory Mansions, where he lives, is presented as a block of appartments that is crumbling and dilapidated, with the smell of cabbage and rank sweat. In addition, there is no such thing as privacy in this novel, and this is something that carries with it significant fear as Winston tries to constantly disguise what is going on internally. Note, for example, the following description of this feeling of no escape from the sight of Big Brother:
Always the eyes watching you and the voice enveloping you. Asleep or awake, working or eating, indoors or out of doors, in bath or in bed--no escape. Nothing was your own except the few cubic centimetres inside your skull.
This is a very bleak description of a world where its inhabitants only have control over "the few cubic centimetres inside [their] skull." Not only does the setting therefore embody the joyless existence of its inhabitants, therefore, but also the sense of claustraphobia and entrapment encapsulated within Big Brother's constant vigilance is also something that helps create Orwell's dystopian world.
In the same way, in The Matrix, note how Neo's reality is expressed. He lives in a world where everybody wheres black and white, or grey, clothes. He spends his life meaninglessly engaged in an office job where he is made to feel that what he does is not good enough. He spends his evenings trying to be free by being involved in computers. When he finally meets Morpheus and his gang, he does so at night, in a dilapidated building, in the rain. Just as in 1984, the drabness of the setting mirrors the drabness of the lives people are forced to lead. The lack of colour represents the lack of excitement, interest and passion. Dystopia in this world is created through the presentation of setting just as much as the lives that the characters lead.
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