What is the definition of environment in utopian and dystopian literature?

Expert Answers
Karen P.L. Hardison eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In utopian and dystopian literature "environment" corresponds to the literary element setting. However, setting has definite prescriptive elements in utopian and, especially, dystopian literature. In utopian literature, the world of the story is ideally perfect in terms of conditions and politics, laws and customs. In this scenario, one would expect forest and crops that are not devastated by acid rain because laws have established harmony between need and environment.

In dystopian literature, people in the world of the story fear the world beyond their cocoon of existence, and the natural world, Nature, is restricted or even excluded. Freedom and speech and knowledge is limited as is unrestrained movement between and within places. In this scenario, you might expect to see meals taken from a tube or a pill or a jar. Technology will have overridden natural processes.

In utopia, housing and work structures will be people-friendly, conducive to conversation and familial love and interaction. In dystopia, these same settings will be subject to or even open to surveillance and inspection and will be conducive to adherence to the norm and to regulations. We by Russian Soviet writer Yevgeny Zamyatin is a great example of dystopia.