Hitting the wall : dystopian metaphors of ideology in science fiction
Bouet, Elsa Dominique
This thesis explores the depictions of the relationship between utopia and ideology by looking at metaphors of the wall in of utopian and dystopian science fiction, such as Ursula K. Le Guin’s The Dispossessed, George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four and the Strugatsky brothers' Roadside Picnic. The wall is an image symbolising the ambiguity between ideology and utopia: the wall could be perceived to be the barrier protecting utopia while it is in fact the symbol for ideological restrictions and containment which are generating dystopia. The thesis looks at how these novels engage with the theme of the wall: it is used as an image altering history, constricting space and as a linguistic barrier. The characters' presence in and experience of the worlds is restricted by the ideological walls, and an alternate reality is created. The thesis looks at how the novels create such alternate, ideological realities and how the wall becomes the entity altering time, history, space and language. This alternate reality is used as an image of stability, but this takes on negative connotations: it becomes a constrictive force, embodying Fredric Jameson's idea that science fiction creates images of “world reduction”, caging the characters' desires, disabling the utopian impulse. The thesis therefore instigates the possibility of utopia: the wall negates all possibility of change and denies the hopes of the utopian impulse; however the characters' desire to regain humanity by destroying the ideological walls offers hope and opens up utopia, thus concluding that utopia is change and progress.