Albert Einstein Gymnasium

Kollegstufe Abiturjahrgang 95/95


aus dem Englischen :

Utopia and anti-utopia

Thomas Morus, "Utopia" and

George Orwell, "1984" compared


Verfasser : Robert Sösemann

Leistungskurs : Englisch

Kursleiter : Frau Oppitz

Bearbeitungszeitraum : Anfang 12/2 - Ende 13/1

Abgabetermin : 1. Februar 96

Erzielte Punkte (doppelte Wertung):


Unterschrift des Kursleiter:


Outline of


research paper

A Introduction:

B About the two books:

I.) Thomas Morus and his work "Utopia"

1.) Biography

2.) Surroundings and intentions for the book

3.) Summary of "Utopia"

II.) George Orwell and his work "1984"

1.) Biography

2.) Surroundings and intentions for the book

3.) Summary of "1984"

C Utopia and anti-utopia:

I.) Definition of the term utopia

II.) Detailled describtion of Morus' positive world

III.) Definintion of the term anti-utopia

IV.) Detailled describtion of Orwell's terrific world

D Dependance of the authors' points of view from time and


I.) Comparison of seemingly different aspects

1.) Loss of Individuality

2.) Ideology

II.) Short outline: What became reality and what not?

E Annotations and Bibliography:

A) Introduction:

The subject of this research paper is a comparison of a utopia and an anti-utopia.

But how can I compare totally contrary things like the description of a paradise and those of "hell". How can I put a world without crime and injustice at the same level with Orwell's horror vision of a totalitarian state? One might think it's impossible. After having read the books a first time I also thought like that. But it is possible. There is even much more than a few similarities. Later I will show you that both authors describe nearly the same subject but from totally different points of view. Orwell and Morus describe solely the same ideal - Communism- but one time as an unbelievable nightmare and one time as heaven on earth. But before giving evidence for this, I will guide you through the two books and their backgrounds. You will get to know something about the two authors, their life time and their intentions to write the books. You will also hear something about the reason how and why the books came to the different names, utopia or anti-utopia, and get an explanation of both terms. In the end of my work I will give an answer to the question, what of the two visions really became thruth and what not.

B) About the books:

I. Thomas Morus and his work Utopia:

1. Biography:

Morus was born in London on February 7, 1478, and educated at Canterbury Hall, University of Oxford. He studied law after leaving Oxford, but his primary interests were in science, theology, and literature. During his early manhood, he wrote comedies and spent much time in the study of Greek and Latin literature. In 1499 he determined to become a monk. Four years later Morus gave up this plan, and in 1504 he entered Parliament. One of his first acts was to urge a decrease in a proposed appropriation for King Henry VII. In revenge, the king imprisoned Morus' father and did not release him until a fine was paid and Morus himself had withdrawn from public life. After the death of the king in 1509, Morus became active once more. In 1510, he was appointed undersheriff of London.

During the next decade, Morus attracted the attention of King Henry VIII, and served frequently on diplomatic missions to the Low Countries. This job and its surrounding gave the impulse for the book "Utopia". It was released in 1516. Five years later in 1521 he was knighted. Two years later, Morus was made Speaker of the House of Commons. During this period Henry VIII made Morus one of his favorites and often sought his company for philosophical conversations. Morus became lord chancellor in 1529 and by that he was the first layman to hold the post.

But then his fortunes changed, however, when he refused to support Henry's request for a divorce from Catherine of Aragon. Morus' religious scruples made him unwilling to sanction any defiance of papal authority. He resigned from the chancellorship in 1532 and withdrew from public again. The king was so angry at the attitude of his former friend that he imprisoned Morus in 1534. Morus was tried the following year; he refused to take an oath of supremacy, asserting that Parliament did not have the right to usurp the authority of the pope in favor of the king. Condemned for his stand, Morus was decapitated on July 7, 1535. In 1935 he was canonized by the Roman Catholic Church.

At the end of his life Morus was best known for his "Utopia", a satirical account of life on the fictitious island of Utopia, a book which was the forerunner of a series of similar works.

2.) Surroundings and intentions for the book:

It can be taken for sure that Morus' main intentention to create this totally new form of written work, was not to entertain but to indirectly criticise the grievances of his time. Morus was an experienced and intelligent statesman and had deep insight into a politic ruled by ignorance, war, injustice and the nobility's prodigality many years. The period of King Henry VII's reign was a time of corruption and chaos. Fanatism covered the world with blood. Religon was just an excuse for mighty monarchs to satisfy their unapeasable hunger for power, gold and glory. Kings broke law, changed it how and whenever they wanted to and lived on the harm of thousands of poor people.

For Willi Erzgräber 1) Morus' critical and satirical attacks are meant for the following groups in the english society.

• the sovereigns who just cared about how to multiply their wealth and conquer

more and more land.

• the sovereigns' souroundings: all the people who would do and say everything to

get advantages and influence.

For Morus the vicious circle of workers living under poverty and hopelessness was a result of the unsocial policy. Noblemen lay hard work on the poor and let them live under inhuman conditions by giving them not enough money of food.

As a consequence the proletarian peoples had to become beggars or thiefs to survive. But instead of suporting those people by taking some money from the king and give it to them, or paying more money for the hard work on the fields they were arrested or killed.

There was a policy of fighting against the symptoms and not the real causes.

All those were reasons for Morus' aversion and will to show how to make things better by describing "The best state of a commonwealth and the new island of Utopia" (Full Title of the book).

3.) Summary of "Utopia":

This description is based on a dialog between Thomas Morus and Raphael Hythlodaeus, a fellow-traveler of Amerigo Vespucci, the man who later gave America its name.

This dialog once happended at Morus' house in Antwerpen during a negotionation with King Karl. Raphael Hythlodaeus is characterized as a wise old sailor, who has seen many different states on his journeys around the world. One of those states was so extraordinary and different from all the others that for him it has become the ideal one.

Due to the article in the Kindler's Literaturlexikon 2) this island called Utopia is not an earthly paradise without any obligations, but a very well planed and efficently organised macro-cosm. The basis of its whole system is human reason which will lead to happiness and prosperity. By that nearly everybody in Utopia voluntarily works for the commonwealth, without the pressure of numerous laws. In this state the interests of the individual are subordinate to those of society at large, all people must do some work, universal education and religious tolerance are practiced, and all land is owned in common. There is no need for money because everybody gets the essential things for live. Luxury, like the possesion of gold and silver, artificial clothes and every other object without practical use is scorned by the utopian people. The contempt for luxury is expressed by producing low-value things (toilets or chains for criminals) from gold, for example. In a country where there is no reason for to be richer or to have more power than the rest, there are also only few reasons for crime and greed. If there are few crimes in Utopia anymore, punishment only wants to warn and deter from doing it again.

These conditions are contrasted with those of English society, to the substantial disadvantage of the latter. To express the deep gap between both societies, in the first part of the book, Morus inserts conversations he had in the past. The best example is the one with the cardinal and lord-chancelor John Morton. (pp.23-40) It is a discussion about the senseless and unjust english criminal law. Further examples can be found in the two parabels of the Achorians and the Macarians. (pp.43-44/pp.48-49) The Achorians were a warlike nation, everytime fighting for more land and money. But the more they get the more difficult it was to keep it. In the end their king was forced to give away everything

because he was unable to handle with the results of his greed (revolts and the hatred of his people).

The Macarians had a king who signed a treaty which forbid him to posess more than 1000 pounds of gold. This sum was enough to defend his land from foreign invaders but too little to attack another country. By that the king was able to care more about the real problems. Those lay in welfare and support of the poor and disabled.

All those comparisons of England and Utopia show Morus' deep respect for this unusual society. Although he wishes that one day people will live in such a peaceful world, he soon realizes that it will take a long time as much as patient and wise diplomacy to reach this aim.

For Morus, the book was more an interesting and desirable vision than an ernest guide for a revolutionary change in the english society.

Even the title "Utopia", which can be translated with non-land, a country that does not exist, shows that Morus does not pretent to tell about something that did happen in reality. For him it was more important to combine theoretical thoughts and hidden criticism with an amusing frame story.

Nevertheless "Utopia" is a milestone in the history of political science and Morus a man who was intellectually far beyond his time.

II. George Orwell and his work "1984":

1.) Biography:

More than 400 years after this fabulous and progressive work by Thomas Morus, our second utopistic novel was written.

Its author Eric Arthur Blair, better know under the pseudonym George Orwell, was born on June 25, 1903, in Motihari, India. His father worked there for the Civil Service. After his family moved to England he was educated at Eton College. Later he served with the Indian Imperial Police in Burma from 1922 to 1927. In bad health, and willing to become a writer, he lived for several years in poverty, first in Paris and then in London, working for a newspaper. Out of this experience came his first book, "Down and Out in Paris and London" (1933), a description of the conditions of the homeless and poor people. "Burmese Days" (1934), a critic of imperialism, can also been looked at as autobiographical. In 1936 Orwell joined the Republican forces in the Spanish civil war were he was wounded. The subject of this war was the revolt of the national leader Franco against the republic. Orwell describes his experiences during this time in the book "Homage to Catalonia" (1938).

Also belonging to this period is "The Road to Wigan Pier" (1937), a realisticly painful report on the conditions of unemployed coal miners in the north of England. Among Orwell's other writings, all basically autobiographical, are the novel "Keep the Aspidistra Flying" (1936),

"Shooting an Elephant and Other Essays" (1950), all models of expository prose; and "Such, Such Were the Joys" (published in 1953), recalling the hardships of his school days in Eton.

His two most important works "Animal Farm" and "1984" are mentioned in the next paragraph.

Orwell died of tuberculosis in London, on January 21, 1950. 18 years after his death "The Collected Essays, Journalism, and Letters of George Orwell" was published in four volumes.

2.) Surroundings and intentions for the book:

All of Orwell's writings after 1940 show that his political convictions underwent a profound change. There are many plausible reasons during Orwell's life, that caused this changing.

The most important reason was the development in the U.S.S.R with Stalin and the terrible consequences and protuberances of communism in the whole world.

Between 1945 and 1975 the number of countries under Communist rule increased greatly, partly because of the way the victorious powers in World War II divided the world among them, and partly because revolutionary Communist movements gained strength in various parts of the Third World. In this manner, the former isolation of the Soviet Union has been lifted and even in such capitalistic countries like England there were tendencies to underestimate this fact. During an interview about his new book Orwell gave the following statement , that "..danger lies also in the acceptance of a totalitarian outlook by intellectuals of all colours." 3)

Orwell feared that England's liberal heritage could be lost, because he saw that even the intellectual class subcumed the totalitarian ideology . Due to the Kindlers Literaturlexikon 4) for him the danger laid in the policy of power-hungry western-world statesmen like Theodore Roosevelt or Winston Churchill. But also the increase of votes for socialist parties were signs for a change in the common mens' opinion 4).

Orwell's condemnation of totalitarian society is expressed in the witty allegorical fable "Animal Farm" (1945) and in the depressing novel "Nineteen Eighty-four" (1949) in which he alludes to many of those dangerous tendencies he saw (protagonist Winston Smith - Winston Churchill or Newspeak - simplification of English language).

Statements by Orwell himself concerning the book, like the one in the dust jacket of the original edition - "I don't believe that the kind of society I describe will arrive, but I believe something resembling could arrive." 5) - show the following.

"1984" was not meant as a dark prophecy what will happen in the near future, but it wanted to tell the readers in the 1950s what could happen, if one doesn't take current tendencies for granted.

He fused realism, elements which the reader recognizes from his own world, and fantasy, to increase the horrible quality of the novel. By that Orwell on the one hand was able to stimulate the reader's imagination and on the other hand warn him that it depends on him whether this will happen or not.

Unusual and different from normal utopias and anti-utopias, is the fact that "1984" is not a systematic and abstract description of a possible society. Orwell increased the tension and emotional intensity by telling the personal story of the protagonist Winston Smith. The reader experiences everthing through his eyes.

3.) Summary of "1984":

The world of this protagonist is divided into the three totalitarian super-states Oceania, Eastasia and Eurasie. All of these states are ruled by an system of oligarchial collectivism. Winston lives in Oceania consisting of the former American continent and Great Britain. Oceania's society consists of three absolutely different classes, the Inner Party (2% of the population), the Outer Party (13%) and the lowest class, the Proles.

Winston Smith is a member of the Outer Party, a class living under the permanent fear of being spyed by the Thought Police . The story plays in London, where Winston was born before the Big Revolution (name for the changing into this state). His remembrance of the time before this cruel and dull world has nearly gone because everything from the past which is against Big Brother's (virtual leader of Oceania) ideology (the so-called Ingsoc) has been destroyed.

We get to know that Winston lives alone in a shabby and poor flat and works in an office, the so called Ministry of Truth, where all these informations are erased or manipulated. Although he doesn't care doing this sensless work he feels a strong hatred against the system, expressed by writing an illegal diary and his sympathy for O'Brien, an intelligent looking member of the Inner Party. Another expression of his rebellion is his love affair with Julia. In the beginning Winston felt deep antagony for her but then he realized that she was also against the party. During the story both often meet illegally outside of London or in a small room in the area of the proles. For Winston and Julia this is a place of privacy, without telescreens and fear. There they make love and talk about how to

reach a better world with the help of the proles, because Winston believes that "[i]f there is hope(...) it lies in the proles." (p. 59) Winston's and Julia's deep wish to talk to O'Brien, who both hold for another enemy of the Big Brother, one day fulfills. O'Brien invites them to his house to give them an edition of

The Book. This book is a guide of the The Brotherhood, a revolt against the state, written by its leader Emmanuel Goldstein. At O'Brien's house both claim to do everything to force a revolution.

But then in chapter 3 the plot totally changes. We get to know that even the book was just one terrible measure of the Inner Party to manipulate the mass and find thought-criminals.

While Winston and Julia are lying again on their bed of their small room, they hear a voice, coming from a hidden telescreen behind a picture. Mr. Charington, the owner of the room was also just a spy and did betray them to the Thought Police. From this moment on both know that there is no chance to run away, to hide or to deny anything.

A few minutes later they are arrested by the brutal forces of the Minstry of Love. This confusing term, is used for the building, where public enemies are tortured and then killed. After been brought there and seperated from eachother we only get to know about Winston's fate. We are told that his great hope, the talk with O'Brien, was a step to his death. From the day on, when they get aquainted to eachother it was O'Brien's goal to convict him as a traitor. By letting him hunger and not sleep for days, by agonizing him in an unbelievable way they bring him to confess everthing and accusing everbody. It is also O'Brien who leads the interrogations and the tortures. After many days of brainwashing and pain he is just a human wreck, a man psychically restructured and emotionally destroyed, a creature without any will and self-consciousness, waiting for death.

In the end of the novel the Inner Party has reached its aim, to not only eliminate (Newspeek : vaporisate) its enemies but also make them to feel absolutely guilty and to love their former enemy. Winston Smith now loved the Big Brother, too.

C) Utopia and Anti-Utopia:

I. Definition of the term utopia:

Now, after this outline of both author's lifes, intentions and a summary of their two works, I am going to explain what makes the one book an utopia and the other an anti-utopia.

The word utopia was first used by Thomas Morus and consists of the two greek words ou = not and topos = location/place. By connecting both elements we get something like no-place, a land that doesn't exist. It's always a form of society which is better than the current one and by that is indirct criticism to the status quo. For Hans Ulrich Seeber 6) Morus was also conscious of the second sense of the word. In the english language you don't hear a difference between Utopia and Eutopia, which means as much as good-place. The island Utopia one of those good but not existing countries. But what makes it such an ideal place to live?

II. Detailled describtion of Morus' positive world:

It is described as a place without any crime, pain and injustice. The roots of all evil, like war, greed and envy for Morus lied in private property. Consequently in Utopia everything is owned in common and shared equaly. As equivalent everybody must do a job.

The fact that only few peoples (children, disabled and old people) don't work, minimizes the working time to only six hours a day. Even women with young children have to work because childcare and education is the task of the priests.

By laying this work in their hands even the youngest citizens are thaught after Utopia's ideology of living after the rules of nature and reason. All bad trades of characters can be changed easily, while the good ones can be supported. But also special abilities are soon recognized. Those abilities will later decide about the job one gets, because everbody is allowed to do what he knows best.

Although only few people can become priest or get any other responsible political position, those groups have no extraordinary advantages, because Morus saw how the wish to reach the nobility's privileges split the english society.

Even the head of the state and his ministers (phylarchs and tranibors), have no chance to misuse their power, because they are controlled by the public and exchanged every year by an election.

To no provoke monotony all workers have to interchange their jobs, which means that somebody who works in a town must do farmer's work and vice-versa.

In their free time the utopian citizens occupy themselves with mental education and sports. Idleness, travels and games of chances are tabooed, because they are useless for society. For Willi Erzgräber 7) this ethics is not a humanistic one, but based on religious fundaments. By that in contrast to Europe, in Utopia religion plays a very important role. Morus figures out the utopian religion as a kind of improved Christanity. Both believe in the immortality of the soul and life after death. The fear of later being punished for one bad deeds is an essential stimulus to behave after god's will. In Willi Erzgräber's 7) opinion the big difference is that the utopian god doesn't wants the people to suffer on earth to reach heaven. Everybody should live a happy and content life, even enjoy physical lust.

Another main commandment is tolerance towards other opinions. Noone is allowed to bring anybody to believe in a religion by using anything else but convincing arguments. This is an allusion, of Morus' deep contempt for the intolerance of the christian church expressed in crusades.

All those religious elements seem to be so logical, that nearly everybody in Utopia voluntarily keeps to its orders and behaves correctly. For this reason there are only few and easy-to-understand statutes. If there are criminals anymore, they are not sentenced to death but are made to slaves. To give them a chance to regret, it is not a slavery for life-time and does not descend on the slaves' offspring (allusion to hereditary poverty in England).

Although this society is characterirized by forgiveness, charity and peace, the Utopians still use war to reach certain aims, but "yet they do not lightly go war" (page 115). Only if friendly countries have been attacked or surplus population has to been solved by building colonies they use this measure.

It also helped the Utopians to spread their valueable ideology and by that build more and more societies around the world which are just as desireable to life in.

III. Defintion of the term anti-utopia:

As a big contrast we experience life of "1984". Not even one single positive thing can be found in Orwell's horror vision of a communistic state.

This exaggeration of terrific elements build the literal genre of so called anti-utopias or negative utopias. Therefore anti-utopias don't express the author's thoughts about a better society but his fear how it could become. The peoples who write utopias often are discontented with the situation they live in. For Hans Ulrich Seeber 8) this does not mean that Orwell was a defender of the status quo, but wanted to warn about dangerous tendencies into the wrong direction. For him "1984" was less a document of despair, than a result of an analysis of reality.

The development of the english society in the 1950s, as described, were alarming signals for Orwell. By writing this book he wanted to warn to not let this nightmare become true.

IV. Detailled describtion of Orwell's terrific world:

The world of "1984" is characterized by consequent collectivism. The earth is divided into three States, Oceania, Eastasia and Eurasia. Although they lie in total war againts, nobody can ever win, because the states are similar in strenghth, size and technology.

The head of the state consists of the members of the Inner Party and their leader the Big Brother. The existence of him is questionable because nobody has ever seen him. For me it only seem to be something like a godess, whom the the masses can deify. The Inner Party enforces the people to behave after its rules, by all possible means. These rules are called Ingsoc (English socialism) and have only one goal, the goal to keep the Inner Party's power. To reach this, the mighty Inner Party has eliminated every single democratic and human element of the society and errected a state without any privacy, individualism, intellectual freedom, culture or personal relation.

Nearly everybody is living in poverty, hunger and absolute control.

Nearly everything that doesn't show a persons fanatic enthusiasm for the party's doctrine, can be interpreted as crime against it. A person who impersonates a potential danger is imprisoned and torture as long as there is no will and self-respect left.The state's three main ideologies gain the destruction of any logic thinking, any pleasure and individuality.

The first of the three slogans "Ignorance is Strenght" has terrible consequences.

Every information that is against the Party's policy is erased and reconstructed by the Ministry of Truth. In practise this means, that newspaper articles are changed and adapted permanently. Even informantions from the telscreens can contradict themselves every day. The fact that the original informations are erased and you are not allowed to write down the truth, has the consequence that the public opinion is controled and manipulated by the state. Public enemies are deleted as easy as informations. Everybody who tries to revolt is killed and all remembrance on him are wiped out (vaporized). By that he did never exist.

The sentences, that "history has stopped." and "Nothing exists except an endless present." (p. 127) are also valid for Winston's past. Although he was born before the Big Revolution, he is unable to remember details of his own mother's death.

Another method to "kill" the past is the creation of Newspeak, a language that eleminated all useless words. The opposite of the word "good" for example is made "ungood", not "bad". For the Party all those words are useless, which express the intensity of feelings, suscriptions of similar meanings and words for things, which "stopped existing".

The second slogan is "War is Peace", and expresses another terrible way to keep the population in poverty and misery. Everybody except the Inner Party lives at the subsistence level. By leading permanent war, nearly everthing that was build by the people's hard work is again and again destroyed. Like in a vicious circle it must be newly errected and is wrecked again. As a consequence we find permanent shortage of all supplies, concerning food, housing or clinical aid. The planned waste of labor is considered as the only possibility to keep a willingless and non-thinking mass.

The majority of Oceania's citizens are characterized as fanatic and brainless creatures. This is vividly shown by O'Brien's remark that "men are infinitely malleable".

The last big doctrine of Ingsoc claims that "Freedom is Slavery". Therefore every personal freedom, like the freedom of speech, the right to choose one's profession or place to live, is abolished. You have to live and die , where you are born. You have to work, wherever and how long the state needs you. You are not allowed to have a partnership, because love is thought to be something bad. By that the Party is planning to forbid sex to get children and replace it with artifical insemination. Although those restriction are even unbelievable an inhuman for us, in "1984" it goes even further.

By the use of telescreen in every corner and room of whole Oceania, there was no single action, you could do without being spyed the whole day and your whole life. This control is the task of the Thought Police, by the help of telescreens. Those telescreens are devices installed in every flat to shadow and send information to every member of the party. All actions, even thoughts (thought-crimes) against the party's opinion expressed through striking behavior can be controled and immedially punished by the Thought Police. "The telescreen recieved and transmitted simultaneously. Any sound that Winston made, above the level of a very low whisper, would be picked up by it." (p. 6) A single word your say asleep, a single facial expression or the way you move is enough to accuse you of thought crime. Whatever you do, no matter if you are at work or sitting on the toilet, you never know if you are being watched.

Looking back to this society where nothing makes sense, nothing can be taken for granted and nobody can live a life in peace and harmony, we can only hope - hope that this will always stay just an exaggerated anti-utopia.

D) Dependance of the author's points of view from time and experience;

I. Comparison of seemingly different aspects:

Now I want to come to the point I mentioned in the introduction. After all the big contrasts between the two worlds of Morus and Orwell, I want to show that both have a lot in common. The large differences don't come from the fact that the two authors describe totally different things, but from their different points of view.

A period of more than 400 hundred years lies between the books and leads to those absolutely contrary views.

For Morus the communism was something very desireable because he lived in a time of large injustice, exploitation of the poor people, which lead to an enormous difference between rich and poor. While a few people lived in wealth and luxury, the big mass worked hard to survive. Morus saw that not a person's abilities or character counts, but one's title and influence. In a time where you can find nearly all of the seven sins (Willi Erzgräber 9) ) it is only understandable that an intelligent man like Morus supported a state model in which everybody is equal to one another. For him it was a fantastic idea, worth to be put in practice. How could he know that many centuries later people would terribly misinterpret this ideal. He could not know, but Orwell could. In Orwells world of the 20th century communism was no utopic whish anymore. It was reality. But this reality did not have much in common with Morus' utopia. The Russia, under Stalin was not a country with justice, wealth for every single cititzen, but a state of suppression, prosecution and terror. Instead of peace there was fear and war, so that nearly the whole world tried to fight against this regime and ideal. Orwell lived in this part of the world and also was frightened of Stalin and Russia. Especially he fear the fact that people in his own country supported this dangerous model . This fear that communism could spread around the world and the knowledge of the real communism were the reasons for creating this horror vision.

Morus did not have this experience. His "communism" was an idealistic one, a naive one , described from a totally different perspective and time.

To demonstrate this idea I have choosen two aspects, which occur in both books but are described one the one hand as something very positive and on the other hand as very negative. Those three aspects are : Loss of individuality and Ideology.

1.) Loss of individuality:

The "abolition" of individuality in Morus' Utopia is a beneficial one and supported by all citizens voluntarily. Its reason is eqality in all parts of life.

Utopians hold the opinion that in a land where is no senseless luxury and monetary wealth, there also is no place for injustice and greed. And where there is no greed, there is no crime. But how does the realization look like? It is based on the abolition of private property. Utopians own nothing and everything. Although everybody gets all he needs for life he doesn't own it. Take for example eqality in housing. The size of the houses in Utopia is adapted to the size of the family living in it. This means a primitive craftsman can live in the same house, as a high civil servant. Both get this house for free, but they do not individually decorate them or fill them up with luxury because they do not own the houses and have to move to another place after a period of time.

The rule that "there is nothing ... that is private, or any mans own." can for T.S. Dorsch 10) be also transferred to the buildings . Decoration in common as much as luxury are dissmissed by the Utopians. They scorn materials like gold, silver and jewels, because they are useless in daily life and only show a person vanity. Therefore all people in Utopia wear unadorned clothes , without any ornaments. This leads to the fact that nearly everybody has got the same things like any other citizen, and by that no one tries to reach private wealth by doing harm to the society's commonwealth.

Further forms of this total eqality are shown in the utopians communal spirit. In big halls they celebrate their religious ceremonies or all eat together, because they hold it for much more efficent to cook for all , than for single persons. Even recreation is often connected with games or sportive actions with other citizens. Individual wishes e. g. like to go into a bar, play card games and drink alcohol are tabooed, because they make no sense for the community's development. All utopians believe in this ideal and voluntarily keep to it.

In Orwell's world of "1984" we also have no individuality and privacy. The proles also all live in the same houses, but those are not "of handsome appearance" (p.121) with huge and beautiful gardens like in utopia. The place Winston lives in is a small shabby flat. The flats are in gigantic blocks of flats, builded long times ago but were never renovated. Winstons flat consists of a bed, a table and the big telescreen. Those telescreens are in all flats of Oceania, except those of the proles. By that the Inner Party is able to control every movement, every private word a person says. Whatever you do you are spyed by the Thougt Police and can be punished if you did not behave after their will.

This means their is nothing you can do for private. Like in Utopia the citizens eat together in big halls, but instead of a grand delicious menu, they get rationalised terrible-tasting grub. Instead of wine they get water or bad whiskey. There exists nothing equal to holiday, recreation and fun. In a state were you are not allowed to read other books than those of the party, were you are not free to go where you want, there is no possibility for entertainment and freedom. But that are rather subordinate things if you look deeper into the ideology of the Inner Party. Abolition of Individuality has only one aim : absolute adaption to the state's ideology. All things that make life multifarious and valueable, like love, partnership, sports, films and books, are forbidden. The only movies in Oceania are propaganda-films and the only person you are allowed to love is the Big Brother. This destruction of all not directly usefull things leads to cultural and intellectual demoralisation. The peoples become an uncritical and unpersonal mass of workers. Winston reaction is his gathering of all those seemingly senseless things, like the dairy or the glass paper-weight. With childish enthusiasm he enjoys the old furniture and all the nostagic articles at Mr. Charington's shop. His need for things, that remind him of the past, a time of privacy and happiness, is very strong. Even so strong that he risks his life, by renting the small room.

2.) Ideology:

Both states, Utopia as much as Oceania, believe that their ideology is the one and only. Both hold their ways of leading their country for the right one. The methods to enforce their ideals are described very different from one another, but they have a lot in common.

The utopian people strongly believe in reason. Everything must be thought over rational and logical. In Thomas Morus' world, a person who didn't behave sensible after nature's rules, is punished. Depending on what he has done he eighter becomes a slave, is exiled or sometimes killed. In "1984" a person is arrested by the Ministry of Love, tortured and in the end is killed.

In Utopia it is said that everybody is free to choose his religion, but later we get to know the restrictions of this freedom. 11) Only if the a religion does not contradict the one of the state, you are allowed to believe in it. In practice this means there is no freedom of religion. The utopian ideology not only doesn't accept foreign countries to have another ideology than their own, but also tries to destroy those peoples. If we read in the section about war that the Utopians are happy if many of their Zapoletan mercenaries are killed in war, "thinking that they would be the greatest benefactors to the human race, if they could relieve the world of all the dregs of this abominable and impious people" (p.121), one could lose the believe in the their natural tolerance and think of a relation to Hitler's Jew-baiting like Erzgräber did it. 12)

In "1984" the governments enemies are not the other countries, because Eastasia and Eurasia have the same totalitarian system like Oceania. By leading war they are just creating a kind of public enemy to control the hatred of the masses. The enemies of the Inner Party lie in their own people. "Revoluzers" like Winston might become a danger if they rebel against the sytem. Resembling to the punishment in Utopia those "criminals" are not killed immediatelly. First they are turned to account for purposes of propaganda or detterrence. In Utopia they have to do hard and dirty work or are used as cheap soldier.

In the world of "1984" they are tortured and brainwashed as long as they are absolutely willingless and willing to confess everything and denounce everybody.

II. Short outline: What became reality and what not ?

Fortunately the world of the real 1984 did not look like the one George Orwell described, but still, not to the same extent, some visions became true. Long before the year 1984 a similar totalitarian system existed. It even existed at Orwell's lifetime and lasted till some years ago. The country I am talking about is the the Soviet Union under the leadership of Stalin and his successors.

Stalin was a dictator like Orwell's Big Brother, who was able to decide upon life and death. Under the ideal, called communism, he justified his cruel murders. With the help of his Thought Police, the Cheka (later KGB), he could spy and control his people almost like if he would have telescreens. If his agents had find out that a person had revolutionary ideas, they arrested, often tortured, killed or send him to Sibiria to do inhuman work. The purges, arrests, and deportations to labor camps touched virtually every family. Untold numbers of party, industry, and military leaders disappeared during the ”Great Terror,” making way for a rising generation that included such leaders as Nikita Khrushchev and Leonid Brezhnev. Fear instilled by a political secret police formed an essential part of the system called Stalinism. Millions were displaced, and unknown thousands died in the massive collectivization. After Lenin's death other fanatic leaders all around the world (China under Mao Tse Tung, GDR with Stasi and SED,...) continued parts of his policy. Although all those methods did not improve the different country's situation of poverty and backwardness, they existed till the end of socialistic world in the late '90s.

All those countries and there historical development showed that Morus vision of a communistic state is not realistic and can not be put in practice. Although the idea of a society where all peoples work together for the public wealth is a positive and noble one, experience thaught us that there will allways be a few persons who misuse their power.

Either to realize private and egotistic ideas or to get special advantages they make the others their personal slaves. Thank God and all the men and women who fought againts those regimes of terror we life in a part of the world which has taken over a lot of Morus state. Although we didn't abolish private property and economic competion, we have social security, eqality of chances and freedom of religion, speech and so on. Although we didn't control and shadow the citizens through telescreen or an organisation we life in a peacefull country. And although we didn't gave away our individuality we are no egotistic, selfish and ignorant persons.

And if we ask whom we have to thank for that, we should not forget men like Thomas Morus and George Orwell , who created new ideas or warned us to not go into the wrong direction.


1) see: Erzgräber, Willi, "Thomas Morus: Utopia", in: Bergham, Klaus &

Seeber, H. Ulrich (ed.), "Literarische Utopien von Morus bis zur Gegenwart",

Athenäum Verlag 1982, pp. 29-30

2) see: "Kindlers Literaturlexikon", "Sir Thomas More: Utopia", Kindler, p. 962

3) see: DLB 15, "George Orwell", p. 420

4) see: "Kindlers Literaturlexikon", "Nineteen Eighty-Four", Kindler, p. 784#

5) see: DLB 15, "George Orwell", p 420, Picture

6) see: Seeber, H. Ulrich, "Zur Geschichte des Utopiebegriffs", in:

Bergham, Klaus & Seeber, H. Ulrich (ed.), Literarische Utopien von Morus bis

zur Gegenwart, Athenäum Verlag 1982, p. 7

7) see: Erzgräber, Willi, "Thomas Morus: Utopia", in:

Literarische Utopien von Morus bis zur Gegenwart, p. 32

8) see: Seeber, H. Ulrich, "Zum Begriff der Gegenutopie", in:

Literarische Utopien von Morus bis zur Gegenwart, p. 165

9) see: 7), p. 30

10) see: Dorsch, T.S., "Sir Thomas Morus und Lukian", in: Erzgräber, Willi (ed.)

Interpretationen: Englische Literatur von Morus bis Sterne. Bd. 7.
Frankfurt/Main 1970. (Fischer Bücherei), p. 31

11) see: 7), p. 33

12) see: 7), p. 37


A.. Primary Literature:

ΠOrwell, George: Nineteen Eighty-Four, Harmondsworth 1949.(Penguin Books)

Œ Orwell, George: 1984, Ein utopischer Roman, Zürich 1973. (Diana Verlag)

ΠSurtz, Edward and Hexter, J.H. : "The Yale Edition of the Complete Works of

St. Thomas More", Volume 4, Utopia

ΠMorus, Thomas: Utopia, Stuttgart 1983. (Reclam Verlag)

=> all direct quotations in the text are from the english editions

B. Secondary Literature:

ΠBergham, Klaus & Seeber, H. Ulrich: Literarische Utopien von Morus bis zur

Gegenwart, 1982. (Athenäum Verlag) => different articles, see annotations

Œ Erzgräber, Willi: Interpretationen: Englische Literatur von Morus bis Sterne.

Bd. 7. Frankfurt/Main 1970. (Fischer Bücherei)

ΠKindlers Literaturlexikon. (Kindler Verlag)