Redefining Religion in Dystopia

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In states overshadowed by continuous negative messaging, having abandoned many of the social systems of today’s society, can religion exist? While religion is present in numerous works, Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World and P.D. James’ The Children of Men offer alternative insights into what constitutes religion in their contrasting dystopian societies. Both works contain scenes and themes with religious connotations. The traditional beliefs of the world’s common religions are suppressed in both works by their monocratic governments or rulers and replaced by either a convoluted form of religion in the case of The Children of Men or by state-sanctioned replacements in Brave New World. Religious imagery is recreated in both works, such as in the sexual, Ford-praising solidarity service that parallels the Catholic mass and communion, as well as in the barn birth of Julian’s baby that is much like a modern nativity scene. Journeys propelled by faith are also prevalent in both novels and while the journey of The Children of Men’s protagonist, Theo is quite clearly intended by James to be highly spiritual, the journey of one of Brave New World’s protagonists can be seen as spiritually driven due to the ways in which he sacrifices himself for a sense of purity.

Within the first few chapters of both novels, the reader is exposed to the current state of traditional religions within the societies of each. Of both works, the transformation of religion is most drastic in Brave New World, as it has not only been suppressed, but has also been replaced entirely by state-sanctioned systems. While religion in many societies is credited with imparting morality unto its followers, one value has been maintained in the World State without religion...

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...Further emphasizing the role of religion, the protagonists of both novels follow spiritual journeys, allowing them to determine their own interpretations of the meaning of religion and the role it is to play in their respective lives. The meaning of religion, not only in both works, but in today’s society, is constantly debated and interpreted. While these debates are not likely to end in the near future, through Huxley and James’ novels, readers are able to be exposed to societies very different from their own, allowing them to better understand the endless possibilities of the influence and role of religion.

Works Cited

Dalley, Jan. “Mistress of Morality Tales: PD James” The Independent. 20 Sept. 1992. Web.

Huxley, Aldous. Brave New World. New York: Perennial Classics, 1998. Print.

James, P. D. The Children of Men. New York: A.A. Knopf, 1992. Print

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