Explore the Extent to Which the Control of Language and Meaning Is of Central Importance in the Societies in 'Nineteen Eighty-Four' and 'the Handmaid's Tale' Essay

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Both Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four and Atwood’s The Handmaid's Tale represent unusual future visions, framed in experimental science fiction. Atwood’s text is grounded in contemporary concerns, as it is partly an attempt at imagining what kind of values might evolve if environmental pollution had finally rendered most of the human race sterile. It has also sprung from the debates raging within the feminist movement of the past thirty years, a movement that Atwood has been very much a part of, although she has never spoken for any specific group- insisting on her individual perspectives. Dystopias such as Nineteen Eighty-Four and The Handmaid’s Tale isolate certain social trends and exaggerate them, magnifying their most negative qualities. They are cautionary tales, meant less as predictions of a likely future and more as a commentary on the present. Atwood’s text explores some of the traditional attitudes that are embedded in the thinking of the religious right, Orwell’s studies the imposing extremes of the political right- and both authors are driven by the threats to their liberty that they perceive to be present in their respective contemporary societies. Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four is an exploration of the dystopian notion of power as it is held and enforced by the state. The significance of Orwell's discussions, both implicit and explicit, about the dystopian abuse of power becomes clear only through analysis. Then it becomes clear that Orwell’s critique of society is inextricably linked to a critique of the power structures that surround communication. Orwell’s writing is cautionary: it illustrates the point that communication is so integral to human instinct and desire that it can easily be turned into an extremely powerful tool for oppression. As well as presenting power as a means of controlling language, and thus thought, the anti-utopian force of

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