Innocence in the Age of Dystopia

Open Access
Walsh, Sarah Katherine
Area of Honors:
English (University College)
Bachelor of Arts
Document Type:
Thesis Supervisors:
  • Robert Lawrence Caserio Jr., Thesis Supervisor
  • Lisa Ruth Sternlieb, Honors Advisor
  • dystopia
  • utopia
  • innocence
  • fiction
Dystopian literature has recently gained a great deal of popularity. Many readers are drawn to these fictional worlds that demonstrate imperfect societies. Often, these societies address fears for the future, as well as reflect aspects of current cultural beliefs. Innocence, generally considered a virtue worthy of protection, is problematic in works of dystopian literature. In this thesis, I will demonstrate that innocence is either exploited or destroyed in dystopian societies. I will analyze staples of dystopian literature, such as Nineteen Eighty-four and Brave New World, as well as more contemporary works, such as The Giver and The Hunger Games. I will compare and contrast the role of innocence as it is presented in classic works of dystopian fiction and modern works of fiction. Considering dystopia is from a long tradition of utopia, I also will explore the treatment of innocence in utopia and anti-utopia. I will analyze a utopian piece, which is also considered the first dystopia: Gulliver’s Travels. Also, I will explore innocence in the young adult novel Gathering Blue.