An exploration into the portrayal of utopian society in utopian literature, using The Beach, by Alex Garland, and The Lord of The Flies by William Golding
The word 'Utopia' was first used by Sir Thomas More in 1516, and is now generally thought of as an imagined perfect place or state. A popular interpretaion of a utopian environment is the desert island, detached from the contempory pressures of working life. The island serves as a detached entity, acting as a signifier for freedom and escapism in a place where a return to a simple, more feudal way of life is desired.
Alex Garland's 'The Beach' (first published in 1996) describes a ruthless utopian ideal in a beautiful island location. The characters of 'The Beach' delude themselves that utopia is attainable and subvert the principles of rational thinking on which their utopia is built.
In a utopian environment, the social construct of utopia assumes a certain level of homogeneity to insure the same ideal is shared and thus secures the community.
Individualised behaviour within such a society is therefore shunned as it is seen to threaten the imposed ideology of utopia.
On the island in 'The Beach', the utopian community is welcoming and eager to absorb individuals into a more communal and homogenous way of life. For Richard, a loss of selfhood is done without resistance; "There's this saying: in an all blue-world, colour doesn't exist. It makes a lot of sense to me; but if the outside world is too distant to use as a comparison then nothing seems strange. Why would I question it anyway? Assimilating myself was the most natural thing in the world." In a situation where no difference existed, the sense of comparison would not be available. This is so within a utopian community where the...