Dehumanisation in Dystopian Literature

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‘The twentieth century has seen a rise in the appearance of a distinctive literary sub-genre, the dystopian or anti-utopian novel with dehumanisation as its dominant theme.” To what extent do ‘1984’ and ‘Brave New World’ depict a dehumanised society?

Both Orwell’s ‘1984’ and Huxley’s ‘Brave New World’ certainly deny humanness to the characters in their novels. Kelman defines humanness as having two key attributes, identity and community. Dehumanisation occurs when these are removed from society. It is true that individuality is denied to citizens and although the community remains, it is subverted in order to fit the government ideal. It can therefore be said that dehumanisation occurs as people are denied and identity and the true
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Eddie Marcus states “dystopias impose authoritarian control over language in order to prevent formulation of heterodox thought” and this is very apparent in ‘1984’.
Although characters’ use of language in ‘Brave New World’ is also restricted, whereby the traditional meaning of language is debased, it is not to the same extent as the language restriction in ‘1984.’ The World state, just like The Party, uses language in order to restrain its people. One of the ways it does this is through hypnopedia, which invades the thoughts of people in their sleep during infancy, conditioning them to think and behave in a certain way. For example “I’m glad I’m not an Epsilon.” These statements are dehumanising in the sense that they force people to identify with a collective group, for example “an Epsilon” rather than an individual. The use of hypnopedia causes the loss of individuality and is, therefore, a means of dehumanisation. These slogans are repeated by Lenina, showing how The World state has invaded the thought processes of the people. Language is associated with powerful human emotion and the World State has sacrificed these emotions in the name of social stability. This has lead to a change in the meaning of many words. For example, ‘Love’ is now equated with sexual activity and “milk” has become “pasteurised external secretion.” Huxley’s use of language in ‘Brave New
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