Is There Still Hope for a Better Future? Probing the Answer in Ursula Le Guin’s The Dispossessed and Margaret Atwood’s The Year of the Flood
Nottingham Trent University
Abstract| This essay examines two novels: The Dispossessed (1974) by Ursula Le Guinand The Year of the Flood (2009) byMargaret Atwood. Written respectively in the wake of the oil crisis in 1973 and in the contemporary culture of rampant consumerism and corporate hoarding, both set out to criticise the predominant political and socio-economic structure that is capitalism and construct realisable utopias as alternatives to this system. This essay argues that, while offering a telling critique of contemporary society, both novels express strong hope for a better future. As the present world descends into socio-political and ecological crisis, both novels’ critical responses to this and their utopian visions are timely and vital. To illuminate and demonstrate these points, this essay engages with Tom Moylan’s concept of critical utopia for guidance and an analytical framework, while also using textual analysis as its methodology. It aims to conclude that by satirising current society and proposing new ways to create a more attainable utopia, and above all, through their storytelling, Le Guin and Atwood demonstrate that, far from being wishful thinking, a healthier and more harmonious society is possible and within reach.
Keywords | critical utopia; science fiction; utopian traditions; utopian communities; late capitalism.