The history of the term utopia and dystopia with reference to an advertisement and a painting to show the meaning of these two terms.

Essay by [w]ilson.[s]High School, 11th gradeA-, March 2008

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The word utopia is a term for an ideal society. It has been used by both communities trying to make an ideal society and in fictional societies. It often used to describe an unrealistic ideal that can never be achieved which has often led to other concepts, namely, dystopia. Utopias are generally said to be societies in which the political, social and economic troubles hampering its inhabitants has been done away with. Instead the state is there to serve the people and ensure the peacefulness and happiness of everyone. The word utopia, which means 'no place' in Greek, was first used to mean a perfect society in 1516 in the publication of Saint Thomas More's story 'Utopia'. Since the seventeenth century utopian writings have been a constant expression of social idealism, hope, and optimism even though some utopists have stressed the illusory nature of their visions and have found in their impossibility a despairing statement of man's imperfection.

Most utopias have been produced within Western civilization.

The word utopia however does not necessarily have to be used to define a society. A utopia can also be used to define a certain situation as it is perceived by an individual. A person who feels that their life at a specific point in time is perfect or a person who is involved with a certain group or organization can very well feel that they are living in a utopic way. Regardless of what others may feel, these people feel content that their choices are the right ones.

Dystopia is the vision of society that is opposite to that of utopia. A dystopian society is a state in which the conditions of life are really bad, characterized by human misery, oppression, violence, disease and pollution. The term was coined as an opposite to...