First of all we have to give a definition of dystopia. A dystopia is a fictional society that is the antithesis of utopia(which is a prefect society). Dystopia is characterized by an oppressive social control, such as an authoritarian or totalitarian government. Another similar society is anti-utopia, that distinguishes herself from dystopia because pretends to be good or was meant to be good, whereas dystopia doesn’t hide her real nature.
An example of an anti-utopia society is “Brave New World” by A. Huxley. The title of this novel is taken from Shakespeare’s “The tempest”, where the protagonist, who lives on a desert island, when sees human beings for the first time says” How beauteous mankind is! Oh brave new world that has such people in it”. The novel takes place in a.f.(after Ford, who introduced the assembly line in the car industry) 632. In this society private property has been abolished and people are classified according to their future role in society. Birth is artificially produced in hatcheries. From the time of their birth people are brainwashed into a happy state. That is why it’s an anti-utopia, people in fact thinks they are happy and they don’t realize that are constantly controlled. Desires are satisfied as soon as they arise by copulation and a synthetic drug, soma. As a result nobody complains. There is a place that don, t follow this rules and where people continue to live naturally, that is New Mexico. Her lives John who is attracted by this civilized society. After he sees his mother ding because of soma, he causes a riot. After being calmed he is taken to the office of Mustapha Mond, the controller. At the end John becomes a victim of scientific experiment and commits suicide. This reveal the Huxley’s pessimism forward the future of western civilization. I decided to explain this novel because I think is the one that represent the most our society, we think in fact to be completely free and to have our privacy when in reality everything that we do is recorded, there are cameras everywhere and even our private conversations and calls are recorded. I found one song that explains this very well “chained to the rhythm” by Katy Perry who cast lights on the majority of the problems that our society has. That is the song https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Um7pMggPnug
I found also this website that gives you the lyrics and also the analysis of the text if you tap on it https://genius.com/Katy-perry-chained-to-the-rhythm-lyrics
I was particularly struck when in the last scene of the video the people are sitting to watch a film and they are all the same. That is the main reason I find the song very close to a dystopian world. Ina dystopian society in fact is very important that the citizens are all the same because they have all the same ideas, obviously in favor of the regime. I found another link with dystopian societies where at the begging of the video we see a woman offering to Katy a cotton candy and it is in an atomic fungus shape. That reflects that our society, as a dystopian one, has a lot of technological possibilities but it uses it in a dangerous and stupid way.
The Victorian Age goes from the begging of he reign of Queen Victoria to the outbreak of the First World War. It was a complex age, marked by political, social and religious unrest. Who benefited from this changes was the middle class. During this period colonial expansion was fostered, scientific research was encourage and transportation spread and improved. This created optimism throughout the country, with the convincing that happiness could be reached through technical progress. The Victorians were proud of their welfare and tended to ignore the problems which still affected England. The working class in fact, lived in misery and distress, the new urban conditions had created slums and so health problems and the lack of hygiene occasionally lead to cholera. The New Poor Law had created the workhouses. Poverty was regarded as a crime; debitors for example were still kept in jail, where life was appealing. Also education had problems, teachers in fact were often incompetent and corporal punishment was still reguallary applied. This situation, which saw prosperity and progress on one hand and poverty and injustice on the other is called “Victorian Compromise”. This age was excessively puritan and sex was consider a taboo, also the words with vaguely sexual connotation were driven out of everyday language. Respectability became the key Victorian concept. A poet who interested himself on the conditions of the poor was Charles Dickens. He was born in Portsmouth and he had a happy childhood: his father was imprisoned and he was put to work in a factory. The most famous story that he wrote is “Oliver twist” that speaks about a children that reflects the humiliations and the difficulties Dickens experienced in his childhood. Oliver Twist has no parents and he is brought up in workhouses, then he is sold to an undertaker but he is so unhappy that he decide to run away and goes to London, where he falls in the hand of a gang of young pickpockets. After some adventure he is adopted by a middle-class family that loves him very much. “Oliver Twist” is important because is a clear picture of how the Life in England was during the Victorian Age. In workhouses children were taken away from their parents, they were undernourished and had to work for many hours. Moreover there was corporal punishment and nobody had the courage to casts light on this situation, also because everything was hide by the Church. I think that is a very contemporary novel because sadly even nowadays there is a lot of child labor, and not only in the poor part of the world. Also in Italy with the problems of migrants the situation is getting worse, and is rising also the number of sexual exploitation.
I found this graph where you can see the part of Italy where children are more sexual exploit as you can see not only in the south but also in the north-east there are many cases.
AESTHETICISM- Oscar Wilde
Oscar Wilde was born in Dublin in 1854. After the graduation he settled in London, where he soon became a fashionable dandy for his extraordinary wit and his extravagant way of dressing. In 1881 he edited “Poems” and he made a tour to New York where he explained reporters his definition of Aestheticism and so the search of the beautiful, a science through which men looked for the relationship existing between painting, sculpture and poetry, which were simply different forms of the same truth. As a tribute to his dandified Aestheticism, women and men wore lilies. In 1891 he wrote “The picture of Dorian Gray” that we will see later. Wild met a noblemen, Lord Alfred Douglas, that was his ruin. The two in fact began a homosexual relationship, but at the time that wasn’t legal, so the father of the noblemen called Wilde to court and he was sentenced to two years of hard labor. It is during this time that he read the Bible, because it was the only book allowed in prison, and that’s why we found many reference to Bible in “De Profundis” his last work. After that everybody knew about his homosexuality he lost all his fame and he was excluded. He died of meningitis in Paris in 1900.
“The picture of Dorian Gray” is set in London at he end of the 19th century. The protagonist is a young men, Dorian Gray. He is handsome and the painter Basil Hallward decides to paint his portrait. The paint reflects Dorian’s soul and so every time that Dorian is evil with somebody the paint become uglier. Dorian kills Basil when the painter sees in what conditions the portrait is. Trying to eliminate the spiritual corruption visible on the paint, Dorian stabs it but in doing so he kills himself. The picture returns to his original beauty and Dorian’s face becomes loathsome. The picture represents the dark side of Dorian’s personality. Wilde plays on the idea on the correspondence existing between the physical and spiritual realms: beautiful people are moral people, ugly people are immoral people. The moral of the novel is that every excess must be punished and reality cannot be escaped, that’s why when Dorian stabs the pain he dies: he have to pay for all his sins. The picture symbolize the immorality and bad conscience of the Victorian middle class, while Dorian’s innocent appearance is symbol of bourgeois hypocrisy. When the picture is again in its original beauty it represents Wilde’s theory of art: art survives people, art is eternal.
The definition that nowadays we found in the dictionary of aestheticism is negative and is “the acceptance of artistic beauty and taste as a fundamental standard, ethical and other standards being secondary”. In my opinion this definition is negative because it seems that the other standards doesn’t matter for a person who takes part in this movement and I don’t think that it should be the first definition of aestheticism. I think the more accurate definition is the one that Wilde gave us and so a type of art that don’t need to be given a moral or ethical meaning, but that is beautiful simply because it’s art and art has it’s own beauty. So in my opinion aestheticism isn’t the refusal of all the moral and ethical norms, but it only says that art, as a form of personal expression, should be free from them, and that doesn’t mean that the artist respects this norms in his private life.