A Ridiculous Piece of Utopian Literature

English Lesson 160

As you will all remember from my last post in which I covered several aspects of the very popular socialist utopian fiction novel Looking Backward (written by Edward Bellamy), the main character Mr. West (a man born in the 1800’s) was miraculously preserved in a vegetative sleep for over a century. I left off in my last post discussing the fallacious actions of Dr. Leete. I have now completed reading the book.

This book, as you will see if you complete reading my last post and this one, was a ridiculous piece of utopian literature. However, it amazingly inspired many people of the 18th century (the time in which the book was written) to embrace the concepts of communism. This book was a huge proponent in the rise of the communist ideology.

To bring you up to speed, Mr. West finds that he has fallen in love with Edith Leete. He then finds out that she is the grand-daughter of Mr. West’s old fiancé (the one to whom he was betrothed before he left her behind in the 19th century). He finds that she has also been in love with him…

And so it seems that they will live happily ever after. Then he goes to sleep.

Now he wakes up…except, he is back in the 19th century. The author now informs us that his vision of the 21st century was all merely a dream! Mr. West goes around views his society and the class system therein to be horrendous. It is with new eyes that he lectures and rebukes the men of the day on his enlightenment and the glory that the future can hold. However, the men reject him and are violent toward him – calling him names. Then, all of sudden…

He wakes up. Now the author informs us that he dreamed about having a dream and that the reality was what we would consider the least probable and the most akin to fiction. It is now that he goes and lives his utopian life.

This essay will be my opinion on which of the two “dreams” was more realistic: When he woke up in 1887 or 2000.

I will inform you that it was, in fact, rather disappointing to read that his utopian revelation had been but a dream; and that it was rather relieving to find that his dream of having a dream was a dream. However, it is my opinion that that his dream of waking up in 1887 was much more realistic.

The first reason for why the dream of waking up in 1887 is more realistic is because of the reactions of the countrymen. While Mr. West had been a pushover and simply accepted everything as “the way it is,” the countrymen thought him looney. They laughed and mocked him. Their reaction was a natural, realistic one.

The second reason for why the dream of waking up in 1887 is more realistic is because of the inconsistencies in the plot that had polluted the story thus far. While the novel had managed to convert thousands to the socialist mindset (in real life), it had not only failed to show how the characters in the novel had managed the peaceful, bloodless revolution of the transition from the peak of Capitalism to the alleged perfection of Socialism; it had neglected to include an action step – a call for action – the first step towards achieving the society outlined and portrayed in great detail throughout the book. It made no sense that the wealthy of society would, out of the blue, give up all their riches to the state where the state would re-distribute all the wealth. There was no mention to the steps of the formation of the government, only descriptions of how the government looked once fully formed.

In summary, the dream of waking up in 1887 after his vision of the year 2000 was more realistic than the “dream” of waking up in the year 2000 because of the reactions of the reactions to do socialist idealism and also because of the inconsistencies of the alternative option.

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