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Compare The Devices Used To Depict The Futuristic Dystopias In The Road By Cormac Mccarthy And 1984 By George Orwell

1751 words - 8 pages

Compare the devices used to depict the futuristic dystopias in The Road by Cormac McCarthy and 1984 by George Orwell.

In both The Road by Cormac McCarthy and 1984 by George Orwell, the writers use aspects of the societies they live (or lived) in to create a dystopian future - a place where the state of life is particularly bad, in which people are often forced to live in fear, as a result of deprivation or tyranny. These elements are used extensively in both novels. Orwell’s themes are based upon political injustice, and how man’s own power and authority has the possibility to grow so overwhelming that freedom could become non-existent. McCarthy, however, appears to direct his warning at ...view middle of the document...

While the main character in 1984, Winston, is not the narrator, Orwell appears to present the story from his point of view in order to give the reader a strong insight into the personality of the character. In Chapter 2 Winston is visited by a neighbour, Mrs. Parsons. Upon her introduction Orwell describes her as “a woman of about thirty, but looking much older. One had the impression that there was dust in the creases of her face.” While this is part of the third-person narrative, it is clear that it is from Winston’s point of view. For example, the use of a woman of “about” thirty is a sign that the narrator is unsure of her age, which would show that this description of her only goes as far as Winston’s own knowledge. This is perhaps an indication that Orwell does in fact want us to engage with his protagonist on a personal level, and learn about the world in the novel from Winston’s own experiences, instead of being explicitly filled in by the author.

The presentation of The Road contrasts this greatly; first of all, the main character is identified as “the Man” throughout the novel. This instantly puts the reader on a non-personal level with him, which greatly contrasts Orwell’s presentation of Winston. Furthermore, this means that McCarthy can give the reader less access to the Man’s personality, giving him more freedom to create an unpredictable character; leaving the reader unsure of how he may react to different scenarios he may come across. The same can be said for the setting as a whole- we do not know what happened to cause the world to be like this, and we never find out. Despite this, however, there is a certain similarity between the presentation of the characters, in that the story is again told from the protagonist’s point of view; even though we as the reader have little knowledge of the man’s character, we still go through the novel only seeing things from his perspective. This perhaps shows that in a world such as the one created in The Road, identity and personality are of little importance.

An example of the story being told from the Man’s point of view comes when he and his son come across a group of people inexplicably driving a truck. Here, McCarthy writes: “They could hear the diesel engine out on the road, running on God knows what.” This once again gives the reader insight only as far as what the character knows, as it is the Man that would not know what the truck is running on, not the writer. In addition, the fact that “God” only knows indicates that despite the post-apocalyptic state of the world, there is still faith in God, perhaps demonstrating that God is not to blame for this apparent apocalypse that has occurred, but instead it is the result of man’s failure to preserve the earth, strengthening the idea that the dystopia in the novel is a warning presented to mankind by McCarthy.

Something else used by the authors to present their dystopias to the reader are the settings, showing how they contrast...

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