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Exploring how ‘Under the Dome’ has gained pertinence since the pandemic

For Sophie’s first article at Her Campus, she explores the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak on Stephen King’s 2009 novel, Under the Dome, which she read during the Summer.

Over the summer, I decided to delve into Stephen King and his psychological thriller Under the Dome, which was set in the town of Chestermill, Maine. After reading the novel I felt that there were many uncanny links between our newfound lives caused by the pandemic and the lives of the people under the dome.

The plot centres around the invisible force field the “dome”, which encompasses the town and prevents anything and anyone from getting in or out. From the outside world scientists and experts are clueless as to what the dome is, they do attempt to destroy it but fail on several occasions. As time progresses and the failures in removing the dome begin to stack, The Mill becomes very claustrophobic and a fearful environment for its people, who become desperate due to their lack of power.

There are however a few characters who do not fall into avarice and renegade against the imposing and brutal force of the police. But as the narrative progresses the fight between good and evil becomes increasingly imbalanced in favour of the latter, with people falling into chaotic and unacceptable behaviour. Gradually through the pages we see the swift erosion of the town and its people. Through this, a reader sees King’s questioning of humanity and its virtuosity or morality when power changes hands.

The novel is highly emotive, as it presents contemporary themes that we have been made to face having lived ( and still living) through the pandemic. The narrative centres on the notions of entrapment, reduction of freedom, death, isolation, separation/distance from loved ones, and an unknown or uncertain future. I think that from this list we can see the pertinence and parallels between the novel and our lives during the height of the pandemic. These resonating themes give the narrative much more gravitas than perhaps reading the novel before the pandemic.

Despite the themes above, I think that the most significant concept that King focuses on is of humanity’s defiance of defeat against all odds and hardships. I think that this is something the pandemic has proven to be true about the world.

The final part of the novel sees the dome finally relinquish itself. The few survivors of the dome are reunited with outside world. This is an incredibly powerful moment as an image of hope, light, and defiance is shown for the first time, in a novel which surrounded itself with grim notions. Perhaps we can relate to this feeling of rebirth and hopefulness when all of the COVID-19 restrictions were lifted, and life could recommence again.

For me, the explicit message of the whole narrative is of humanity’s strength and prevailing endurance, and that the belief in hope should never cease. As we carry on with our lives, and step into the next chapter, we must be reminded to have hope and to have faith in humanity.

Sophie Bryer

Nottingham '23

Hi everyone <3 I am a 2nd year English student, who loves music (particularly The 1975 and Glass Animals), art, dance, literature and DOGS. I am excited to be apart of Her Campus and am looking forward to writing on a variety of topics that interest me and hopefully you as well :))
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