GENDER PERFORMANCE IN DYSTOPIAN LITERATURE THROUGHOUT THE HISTORY OF SCIENCE FICTION
PublisherThe University of Arizona.
AbstractThis work analyzes the use and portrayal of gender in Jack London’s The Iron Heel (1908), George Orwell’s 1984 (1949), Philip K. Dick’s Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep (1968), and Stephanie Collins’ The Hunger Games (2008), four dystopian works written over a period of 100 years. It questions the reasoning behind the use of gender within each of the texts and looks at the changes in the use and presentation of gendered characters in each of the novels, considering the purpose of each text and the possible reasoning behind gendered portrayals of the characters in each story. Though a chronological analysis of these texts reveals a change from the portrayal of femininity as a singular good to a mindless weakness to a necessary balancing force, feminine characters remain subordinate to and weaker than masculine characters, even as a female protagonist takes the stage in the final novel. Finally, the work questions whether the conventions of the dystopian genre preclude the existence of a feminine dystopian hero or if the reason she has not yet been written is based on a cultural bias towards strong masculinity in main characters of any gender rather than the norms of the dystopian genre.