Last Updated on July 29, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 482
• Animal Farm (1945) was George Orwell’s 1945 fable about the inevitable course of all revolutions. In it, a group of animals revolt against the farmer who is their master and set up their own form of government. The most intelligent animals, the pigs, are in charge, and hopes are high when the animals write their own bill of animal rights. However, over time, these rights are eroded as the pigs begin changing the rules.
• Brave New World by Aldous Huxley (1931) influenced Orwell’s own futuristic novel, 1984. Huxley’s totalitarian state, which exists in London six hundred years in the future, is less grim than Orwell’s, but its inhabitants are as powerless and oppressed as the citizens of Oceania. Huxley’s characterization and prose is less sophisticated than Orwell’s, but his novel is funny and fascinating. The inhabitants of his society are controlled from before birth by a handful of elite rulers with sophisticated technology. When a primitive person, the Savage, from outside the society is introduced, he confronts the shallow values of the citizens.
• This Perfect Day by Ira Levin (1970) is another futuristic novel about a totalitarian society with very different values from that of contemporary society. As in Brave New World, citizens dull their pain and fears through drugs and are genetically very similar. Those who have genetic differences have a greater tendency to be dissatisfied with the pacified society, which is controlled by a huge computer that dispenses the mood-altering drugs.
• The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood (1985) is the story of a woman named Offred, who lives in the Republic of Gilead, an oppressive society of the future in which women’s roles are severely limited.
• Harrison Bergeron, a satirical story by Kurt Vonnegut was inspired by Orwell’s 1984 and Huxley’s Brave New World. Harrison lives in a totalitarian state in the future. He is very intelligent— not an advantage in this society—so to “correct” this “defect” and allow Harrison to be as mediocre and middle-of-the-road as his fellow citizens, doctors plan to perform brain surgery. However, Harrison is whisked away by an elite group that secretly controls all of society and given a choice: join the rulers and disappear from society for good or be lobotomized.
• We by Russian writer Yevgeny Zamyatin (1924) influenced George Orwell’s 1984. It, too, is a dystopian novel set in the future, in this case the twenty-sixth century, and features a totalitarian state. This society, called OneState, is ruled by a Big Brother-type dictator called simply Benefactor, who has scheduled the day of every citizen down to the very minute. The narrator, D-503 (all the citizens have numbers, not names), is the designer and builder of a space probe called INTEGRAL and is waiting for the day when he finally has the Great Operation: the lobotomy the government performs to erase the last vestige of each individual’s humanity: the imagination.