The Hunger Games Conundrum

The Hunger Games

The Book Wars

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            George Orwell and Aldous Huxley imagined two very different dystopias. In 1984 (1949), Orwell depicts the forces that held people captive as fundamentally external: coercion, espionage, laws, institutions, and threats, lies told by the powers-that-be (or, the state? government?). The vision of freedom that Orwell presents is primarily socio-political, with the greatest threat to humans being other humans, whether the Nazi, the slave-owner, or the autocrat etc… Oppression comes through pain, not pleasure; the essence of liberty is to be without external constraint. By contrast, Huxley’s Brave New World (1934), published just after the Wall Street crash had turned the excess of the twenties into the Great Depression of the thirties, portrays a future in which people are enslaved to forces within themselves: desire, inanity, hedonism, egotism, ignorance. Humans are free if they are able to choose, to will their own future, to decide for themselves what they will…

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