Brave New World - Claire Gardner Mrs Miller APs Lit...

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Claire Gardner Mrs. Miller AP’s Lit 11/7/16 Dystopian Societies Essay Knowledge can be wielded in any number of ways and, in novels that feature dystopian societies, knowledge is used as a form of control. The power of knowledge is a common theme used in literature to provoke thought amongst the audience. Similar literary societies conform to certain standards that make them susceptible to limitations implemented by an omnipotent governing body. Aldous Huxley’s A Brave New World , Kurt Vonnegut Jr.’s “Harrison Bergeron”, and Ray Bradbury’s “The Pedestrian” all include such societies. Each author writes to warn his audience of the dangers of academic apathy, standardization, commoditization and pacification, which result after the masses relinquish the power of knowledge. The aforementioned dystopian societies satirize the academic apathy that emerges after technology saturates the daily lives and functionings of the public. Bradbury’s “The Pedestrian” focuses on a man who was once an author, but, in his world, “magazines and books [don’t] sell anymore”, and the majority of the population is content to sit in front of “viewing screens” (2). The pedestrian walks each night to mentally and physically stimulate himself after society abandoned literature, his preferred pastime. Only the pedestrian understands that forgoing academia for more passive forms of distraction makes individuals and their communities vulnerable to exploitation through growing ignorance. A similar sentiment is explored in Vonnegut’s
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“Harrison Bergeron”. The characters in “Bergeron” live under an oppressive government, and their pain is successfully muted by strict intellectual control. Moments after the government forces the eponymous character from his home, the young boy’s parents are resting in their living room, their son already forgotten: George and Hazel couldn’t think about it very hard. Hazel had a perfectly average intelligence, which meant she couldn’t think about anything except in short bursts. And George, while his intelligence was way above normal, had a little mental handicap radio in his ear… every twenty seconds or so, the transmitter would send out some sharp noise to keep people like George from taking unfair advantages of their brains (1).
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