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How Close is Dystopian Literature to Real Life?

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Nottingham chapter.

We’ve all heard of Big Brother from Nineteen Eighty-Four, The Hunger Games, and The Maze Runner. We freak out at the idea of such hellholes, thanking various deities that we’re not in such a terrible position. But should we be grateful? Although we’re not forced to enter deadly domes like the tributes in The Hunger Games, in which the only option is to kill or be killed, but the idea of Big Brother watching our every move is uncomfortably close to reality, especially in the UK.  

In Nineteen Eighty-Four, George Orwell’s most famous novel, a totalitarian leader called Big Brother has indoctrinated the state of Oceania into blind submission and ignorance. The public are sheep: following orders and conforming to the mind-numbing life they have been forced into. There is no such thing as independent thought, and if someone begins to stray they are dealt with swiftly. What’s so horrific here is the lack of free will; but haven’t we been enslaved to the working world in the same way? Our lives are education, work, retirement, death. Our education is designed to improve our chances of getting a job.  Most of our healthy adult lives are spent working in order to earn money so that we can enjoy adulthood. However four weeks holiday each year doesn’t exactly make up for the 48 weeks in which most of us work 9-5 jobs or longer. You get the occasional lone wolf or blooming butterfly, but when I see Canary Wharf at 9am on a Monday, I see a hell of a lot of sheep.


Big Brother has been coined as a term for being watched constantly. The idea of no privacy or freedom to act as we wish is what makes Nineteen Eighty-Four so scary. But how is that so different to the real world? We might not have a camera in our rooms, watching our every move (let’s hope David Cameron knows that’s a bad idea) but we do have a terrifying 1.85 million CCTV cameras in the UK. If you’re in London, you’re going to be on camera. The average Brit is recorded on camera 300 times a day. That’s a lot of mugshots.



It’s not all bad though. I can’t imagine a situation in which I would need Katniss’s bow and arrow skills to stop a 15 year old from killing me. And I’m pretty sure I would never need to run through a maze against the clock in order to find a way out of a prison-like garden. Instead, a quick Google search of my name will reveal tons of photos of me, and I’m praying the day doesn’t come where I find a video on YouTube of me walking into a lamppost- or maybe even worse.

P.S. Watch ‘Hunted’ on Channel Four if you want to find out just how much the government’s got on you. Scary.

Edited by India-Jayne Trainor