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CynicalDowner

Dystopian literature as an influence on We Happy Few

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Having recently read Nineteen-Eighty Four, I can't help but feel that it and other dystopian classics have influenced We Happy Few. With that in mind, I was wondering what the purpose of the society depicted in WHF is. (Spoilers for Nineteen-Eighty Four to follow)

 

The main purpose for the party in 1984 is to make the expression of heretical opinions or thought-crime impossible, by creating and continuously developing the language newspeak, until the words required for thought-crime are no longer in existence. They also want to spy on party members and they demand conformity to their ideology.

 

Their stated purpose was power for powers sake, they wanted to guarantee that they could rule forever. They realised that being at war continuously would unite the people of Oceania, hence War is Peace, that being outside of the party renders the individual powerless, and that being a member of the party provides power and in a way immortality by being a part of something that will fulfill its goal long after the death of the individual - Freedom is Slavery, also reversible Slavery is Freedom. And finally Ignorance is Strength, the idea that the ignorance of the proletariat, guarantees strength for the party.

 

Winston Smith is a party member who works in the Ministry of Truth, rewriting history to suit the needs of the party, and attempts to rebel against the party. He eventually begins a relationship with fellow party member Julia and attempts to join the Brotherhood, a mysterious organisation supposedly run by Emmanuel Goldstein. Eventually Winston and Julia are caught and tortured until they betray each other by asking for the torture to be transferred to the other person.

 

Winston eventually loves Big Brother.

 

This gpt me thinking about WHF, and the motivations of the ruling caste. As citizens appear to want to be continuously happy and are angry at those who refuse to comply, it appears to me to be a form of brainwashing , similar to the ignorance of the proles and some party members in 1984. I am curious to know the motives of Uncle Jack and other possibly unseen leaders, and whether they really take the joy that they force the citizens of Wellington Wells to take.

For example rewriting history in 1984, prevented people from comparing their situation to the past, so there was no way to work out whether things were better before or now or prove when the party told lies. This is similar to taking the joy to make the Wellies forget bad things that happen to them. But the party members employed doublethink to allow them to hold two opposing viewpoints at the same time.

 

Also thought police, other party members and the children in the spies in 1984 used to denounce heretics to the party. This has a similarity with the Wellies reporting downers.

 

Of course I remember Sam from Compulsion Games saying that Brave New World had more of an impact on WHF, I am yet to read that but it's next on my list. I'm currently reading Darkness at Noon. What does everyone else think?

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Well 1984 is all about surveillance, and rule imposed from on high. BNW is more about everyone taking happy drugs. But WHF isn't exactly inspired by BNW; BNW is something to refer to. WHF is more inspired by our own culture, where people are encouraged to (appear to be) happy all the time and there are drugs to help you be happy. Joy is less soma and more Prozac/Oxycontin/Fentanyl. You don't have to go to 1984 or BNW to find denial; just watch the debates on TV, or go on Facebook.

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@Alex

Thanks for your reply, so more of a modern social commentary, where those who are outspoken, cynical and more focused on more serious issues, are ostracized by those who are distracted by more modern entertainment - XFactor, Reality TV , celebrity gossip, sport, social media etc.?

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"Or go on Facebook."

 

That's a really good insight for what you guys are going for actually. I'd always noticed that on Facebook everyone's always so 'happy', and as soon as you're posting stuff about being sad it's often a case of negative comments in whatever roundabout way people can deliver without seeming like they're wrong. 'Be happy or be wrong'.

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@Otherbuttons

 

Yes I'd agree Facebook is like a false snapshot of the best parts of people's lives. Fake friends, holiday photos, nights out. All the good things and happy occasions, but none of the bad. Really just an effort to present the image people want others to see, not a reflection of reality, just a sanitized, idealized version of life. Like Alex says, denial.

 

And you can't blame them for not being open to, lets be honest relative strangers on Facebook, and of course Facebook themselves who store the data and share it widely, with other corporations/governments. However the lack of privacy and control over the data you generate is a debate for another day :)

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