The Psychological Effects Of Social Stratification

2806 Words12 Pages
As Warren W. Wagar once said, “[E]ven dystopias are utopian.” Twentieth century English novelist J.G. Ballard portrays dystopian societies through spaces of perfection both literally and figuratively in High-Rise (1975) and Millennium People (2003). Ballard focuses on the psychological effects of social developments, typically within dystopian communities, and how they relate closely to social stratification. In spite of the novels taking place nearly thirty years apart, they share a common theme of social stratification. Whether social stratification is truly desirable or not is controversial, as it is examined in both novels through the protagonists’ willingness to isolate themselves from society–either through revolution or simply for the freedom from having to conform. High-Rise is set in a high-rise building in a wealthy sector of London, separate from the influence of the outside world. Behind the alluring exterior, the interior of the building is defined by class division, territorial separation, and violence. Similarly, Millennium People is set in a capitalist community, wherein the middle-class engages in a revolution against the upper-class and the government in search of a sense of equality and purpose in life. In both narratives, the protagonists become alienated from society, negatively impacting them both physically and mentally due to the social atmosphere and the presence of corruption and manipulation. In this way, Ballard poses the question: if social
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