Dystopia in Literature – Lesson 4

After reading Fahrenheit 451 and watching 1984 you should write, “Dystopia in Literature, a Comparative Study”.Dystopia in literature

Write a formal structured ESSAY where you consider the filmed adaptation of 1984 (Orwell) and the novel Fahrenheit 451 (Bradbury), and compare them from the following aspects,

  1. How truth is handled.
  2. How literature is regarded and dealt with.
  3. How war is described and the functions of war.
  4. Hope, if there is hope and in what form and finally,
  5. in the end, who wins and why?

Part 3: Essay Instruction

If you are aiming for the higher grades you can also include a comparison of the use of symbols and metaphors in Fahrenheit 451 and 1984. (See post Literary Devices). In your analysis you should exemplify, building your analysis using examples from the text (quote or retell) and the film (refer to scene or passage).

Your text should have a clear logic with a coherent use of paragraphs, linking devices and a formal register. Remember not to use contractions.


General Writing OutlineFor help with your writing, structure, linking words etc. please refer to

Core 2, p. 249 devices for argumentative vs reasoning text)Viewpoints 3, pp 200-201 ”Literary Analysis”
Ready for CAE p. 197 ”Essay”


AND the document General Writing Instructions




Gustafsson, J., Hjorth, M. & Kinrade, E. (2009). Core English. 2. (1. uppl.) Stockholm: Bonnier utbildning.

Gustafsson, L. & Wivast, U. (2014). Viewpoints. 3. (1. uppl.) Malmö: Gleerup.

Norris, R. & French, A. (2008). Ready for CAE. Coursebook. Oxford: Macmillan Education.

Dystopia in Literature – Lesson 3

Embedded booklet with full instructions for the theme to the right and below instruction to use while watching the film 1984.Dystopia in literature

Watch 1984 using the instructions for ‘while watching’.  (It should be the version with John Hunt and filmed in 1984)

Questions to consider while you watch. (Take notes)

What is most significant about Winton’s, Julia’s and O’Brains characters?

How do you react to the starting scene and the phrase ”Who controls the past controls the future”?
What is this communal mass outpouring of emotion at the start of the film?

What is the role of Newspeak?
What is the role of censoring?
What is thought crime?
Waht is sex crime?Part 2: while watching 1984
What is the function of the hidden diary in the story? Does it symbolize anything?

What is the significance of (the sign of) the ’crossed arms’?
What is room 101?
What or who is Big Brother? Is he/it a real person?

What is the role of war? In this film?
How is technology used by the party?
Winston lives in Oceania, what is the rest of the world like?

What is the function of the symbols Winston’s paperweight, the St. Clement’s Church picture and the red armed woman and the “the place where there is no darkness.”

Winston’s public confession. Does he believe what he is saying? Is he a broken man?

And what about the relationship between Jula and Winston, how would you describe its different stages?

An most important, what is the role of language? (double think, newspeak)


Posts on this theme

Dystopia in Literature – Lesson 1
Dystopia in Literature – Lesson 2
Dystopia in Literature – Lesson 4

Dystopia in literature
Ray Bradbury and Fahrenheit 451
Aldous Huxley and ”A Brave New World”
A Brave New World
George Orwell
George Orwell’s 1984

Dystopia in Literature – Lesson 1

Dystopia in literature_titlepage”It’s not so much staying alive, as staying human, that is important” (Winston, in the film 1984)

Dystopia in Literature is a themed work, for English 7,  based on Fahrenheit 451 (Ray Bradbury)  & 1984 (George Orwell).

See booklet with full instructions for the theme. (A downloadable booklet  with full instructions for the theme will soon be available as pdf)

Due to the new EU Copyright Directive I am removing direkt links in posts to anything which may fall under the new copyright laws. I regret that I  can no longer give you this service.

We start with the concept of dystopia “an imaginary place where people lead dehumanized and often fearful lives” (see the online dictionary Merriam Webster), and introduce the book Farenheit 451.

See the posts,

Dystopia in literature

Ray Bradbury and Fahrenheit 451

When reading the book Farenheit 451 be  careful to follow the reading instructions.

Download the instructions: 1415297898_stock_save-pdf  Dystopia in Literature__Part 1

For both the of the titles Farenehit 451 and 1984 think about

1) How truth is handled,

2) How literature is regarded and dealt with,

3) How war is described and the functions of war,

4) Hope, if there is hope and in what form and finally

5) In the end, who wins and why?

Taking notes while you read and watch is highly recommended.

Posts on this theme

Dystopia in Literature – Lesson 2
Dystopia in Literature – Lesson 3
Dystopia in Literature – Lesson 4

Dystopia in literature
Ray Bradbury and Fahrenheit 451
Aldous Huxley and ”A Brave New World”
A Brave New World
George Orwell
George Orwell’s 1984

This post was edited and updated 2019-03-18

Dystopia in Literature

Dystopia in literature

Farenheit 451 (Bradbury), 1984 (Orwell) and A Brave New World (Huxley) are three novels which are again, or still, topical. Ethical issues that contemporary society is struggling with, reproduction, genetic modification and cloning, the media, control and surveillance are all depicted in these three novels.

(Instruction for working with Dystopian literature to the right here.)

The review “Which Dystopian Novel Got It Right: Orwell’s ‘1984’ or Huxley’s ‘Brave New World’?”  refers to the US Presidential elections when

there were almost daily echoes of Orwell in the news, and “1984” began shooting up the Amazon best-seller list. The most obvious connection to Orwell was the new president’s repeated insistence that even his most pointless and transparent lies were in fact true, and then his adviser Kellyanne Conway’s explanation that these statements were not really falsehoods but, rather, “alternative facts.” As any reader of “1984” knows, this is exactly Big Brother’s standard of truth: The facts are whatever the leader says they are (New York Times, FEB. 13, 2017).

These book are examples of dystopian literature, but what is a dystopia, or utopia? Dystopia is defined as

a world in which everything is imperfect and everything goes terribly wrong. Dystopian literature shows us a nightmarish image about what might happen in the near future. Usually the main themes of dystopian works are rebellion, oppression, revolutions, wars, overpopulation and disasters. On the other hand, utopia is a perfect world exactly opposite to dystopia (Literary Devices)

The idea of society gone wrong seem to have its dark allure on us. It is a recurring theme in books and films. The classics titles Farenheit 451, 1984 (Orwell) and A Brave New World are all listed in ShortLists’s “The 20 best dystopian novels”, but there are other titles, just as well known, and very topical today, such as Margret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale , listed with Huxley’s A Brave New World in the Encyclopedia Britannica as “10 Devastating Dystopias“.

More posts on this theme

Ray Bradbury and Fahrenheit 451

Aldous Huxley and ”A Brave New World”

A Brave New World

George Orwell

George Orwell’s 1984

George Orwell’s 1984

George Orwell‘s 1984 is a dystopian story;

Written in 1948, 1984 was George Orwell’s chilling prophecy about the future. And while 1984 has come and gone, his dystopian vision of a government that will do anything to control the narrative is timelier than ever…

The Party told you to reject the evidence of your eyes and ears. It was their final, most essential command.

Winston Smith toes the Party line, rewriting history to satisfy the demands of the Ministry of Truth. With each lie he writes, Winston grows to hate the Party that seeks power for its own sake and persecutes those who dare to commit thoughtcrimes. But as he starts to think for himself, Winston can’t escape the fact that Big Brother is always watching… (from Google Books)

It is a book which was written by George Orwell shortly after the end of WWII, when the cold war was going on, and has been filmed more than once.

The study guide below will work with any filmed version (and the book) but has been written with the film 1984 directed by Michael Radford, in mind, which was filmed during 1984. The film stars John Hurt, Richard Burton and Suzanna Hamilton.

Orwell's 1984 (study guide for film)


 Study Guide

(read the guide online or download it)




Other useful resources

LitCharts has an extensive 1984 study guide

How to Analyze a Novel (works for film too)

Literary Devices and Terms

Bitesize History The Cold War

Related posts

George Orwell

George Orwell

George-orwell-BBCOrwell was a British journalist and author, who wrote two of the most famous novels of the 20th century ‘Animal Farm’ and ‘Nineteen Eighty-Four’, is how he is presented by BBC History.

At BBC History you can also read that Animal Farm was published in 1945. It is a “political fable set in a farmyard but based on Stalin’s betrayal of the Russian Revolution”.

Animal Farm strip cartoon


Nineteen Eighty-Four was published  in 1949. This story is set in an imaginary totalitarian future. (Although 1984 is now in our past). The “book made a deep impression, with its title and many phrases – such as ‘Big Brother is watching you’, ‘newspeak’ and ‘doublethink’ – entering popular use.”

To learn more about the author George Orwell go to george-orwell.org. Here you can read his work online including  1984 and Animal Farm. If you prefer to listen, the texts are also available as audio books; Animal Farm audio book and 1984 audio book. These hugely popular texts have also been filmed.

 Related post

George Orwell’s 1984