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Comparison of 1984 and The Handmaid's Tale

            Dystopian rule meets success when individuality has been removed from the individual: the humanity from the human. Only once people have become numbers – 'one of' as opposed to 'one', can a ruling body be in true command. Good morning all and welcome to this morning's seminar presentation, today I will be exploring with you the conventions of dystopian literature. George Orwell's 1984 and Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale are prime examples of societies where civilians are forced to live by the totalitarian government's subdual of sexual expression, to safeguard the government's own goals and aspirations. The denial of sexuality in both texts is a perfect demonstration of the kinds of control exhibited over citizens by ruling powers, which ultimately exist to ensure undivided loyalty to both regimes and upholding of piety, virtue and purity that are cherished by the authorities.
             The association of sexuality with individualism and confidentiality is a threat to both societies based on collectivism and the suppression of self to the State. The attitudes towards sexuality in both texts show striking parallels: in 1984, sex is depicted as the essential form of human procreation, however, the Party aims to 'eliminate pleasure from the sexual act' (p. 56). Emotional connections between two people are not desirable, as loyalty should be directed to Big Brother only. 'Procreation is an annual formality' (p. 50); married couples are only to engage in sexual activity for the purpose of conceiving children for the Party. It is in this way that children are educated, mainly evident when children become spies for the thought police, serving the purpose of incriminating their parents, as well as in the foundation of the Junior Anti-Sex Party. There is a similar, yet more drastic picture presented in The Handmaid's Tale: sexuality is a controlled, over-regulated act that is wholly deprived of any pleasure from the outset, as it is seen as an affair in which human tenderness is unnecessary.

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