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How far was and is the "Condition of England" a dystopian society? Discuss in reference to "Howard's End" and "Saturday". (2009)

How far was and is the "Condition of England" a dystopian society? Discuss in reference to "Howard's End" and "Saturday". (2009)

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Published by Adzza24
A discussion of how the authors, Ian McEwan and E. M. Forster dipict the condition of England and society. Is it more dystopic in 2000 than it was in 1900? Is it dystopic at all?
A discussion of how the authors, Ian McEwan and E. M. Forster dipict the condition of England and society. Is it more dystopic in 2000 than it was in 1900? Is it dystopic at all?

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Published by: Adzza24 on Jun 05, 2011
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 1
How far was and is the Condition of England a dystopian society?
Discuss in relation to Howards End and Saturday.
Unreal city,Under the brown fog of a winter dawn,A crowd flowed over London Bridge, so many,I had not thought death had undone so many.- T.S. Eliot,
The Waste Land 
 
 
 1
D
ecember 2009
Dystopia', defined in the dictionary says: a society in which everything is bad
1
. Dystopia in suchnovels as
 A Clockwork Orange,
manifests as a broken society, riddled with ultra-violence andkilling
2
for pleasure, beyond the reach of prayer
3
, and a totalitarian government that allows nochoice and has the good imposed. Eliots poem shows a barren depiction of brown land
4
torepresent a dead society. However, whilst these texts are widely accepted as dystopic visions, I aim,here, to discover how close to them we have come in the past and present. Dissecting the societiesdepicted in
Saturday 
and
Howards End 
into their irreducible components of social measure happiness, equality, morality, conflict, purpose  will illuminate the overall condition of England thenand now and offer a glimpse of the future. The face of Britain can be seen to change a great dealover the course of a century, from a commonwealth, a class-driven, rich-white-male-dominantsociety, to a scientific climax of brazen, outspoken characters in an American-allied country at warand under threat from terrorism, yet neither novel really makes a case for having become a better,stronger country of unity. What might be called utopia is only seen fleetingly, so the questionseems to be whether England is spiralling towards, already in, or clambering out from: dystopia.Both Forster and McEwans English citizens seldom seem to experience moments of true happiness.The constant presence of the sea
5
, waves
6
and the tide
7
in
Howards End 
can be seen as anintertextual reference to
Dover Beach
. In Arnolds picture, the pebbles which the waves draw back,
1
COE Dictionary
2
A.Burgess,
 A Clockwork Orange
, p92
3
Burgess, p76
4
T.S.Eliot, The Waste Land,
Selected Poems
, p48
5
E.M.Forster,
Howards End 
, p275
6
Forster, p169
7
Forster, p241
 
 1and fling/...bring the eternal note of sadness in
8
. Where the sea is the human misery, the pebblesare humanity. This links in with an idea of futility in the novels, and portrays an eternal forcerestlessly washing society in misery, a key component in dystopia.Happiness is seen by Perowne in the protest-rally, which, as a display of discontent, is the placewe least expect it. Perowne questions this happiness
9
; but let us explore that it
s
genuine. Thefundamental human exchange
10
, is a moment [of]purity and innocencestripped down to theessentials of being, bringing people together. Perowne never sustains this connection for verylong, more often feeling that people are close by, unaware of hi[s]isolation. Similarly, somethinghad come between
11
Margaret and Helen, isolating them from each other in unhappy[ness]
12
. Inaddition the moon, the tides invisible power, draws the book to its climatic centre, illuminating thenight before Basts death. Moonlight streams down the long meadow
13
, sparks Henrys long-overdue epiphany that things are connected with something far greater
14
, and is a clenchedfistgoing to touch
15
Leonard. This essential lunar thread connecting each life to another clarifieslifes daily gray
16
and, as we will see, brings unity to the Schlegel-Wilcox future. Thus thedemonstrators happiness is a product of being together out on the streets
17
, connecting withthemselves[and] other[s]. They interrupt the attack-waves of traffic
18
, highlighting the isolationof drivers insulated
19
behind windows and doors, stuck in six lanes east and west
20
of sadness:dystopia, not merely present, is prolific.So if dystopia comes from isolation, in connected moments it must dissolve into utopia. Theart
21
, literature, and music which spill over the pages, thrust reader and character into thisconnectedness, joining musician and listener, artist and viewer, writer and reader in their ownworld. Arnolds poem by offering this connection with Daisy, foils Baxters plan. And amidst twelve- 
8
M.Arnold,
Dover Beach
, qtd in McEwan, p281
9
I.McEwan,
Saturday 
, p69
10
McEwan, p85-6
11
Forster here and following, p288
12
p291-2
1
3
p303
1
4
p317
1
5
p313
1
6
p150-1
1
7
McEwan, p69
1
8
McEwan, p122
1
9
Winston and Marshall, 
he Shadows of H
story:
he Cond 
on of England 
n
N
ice Work, p11
20
McEwan, p168
21
McEwan, p142

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