Composers of Dystopian texts create speculative worlds in which the constraints of morality are removed, providing a platform upon which to explore the social, political and economic contexts of their times. William Golding’s ‘Lord of the Flies’ (1954), John Hillcoat’s ‘The Road’ (2009) and Andrew Niccol’s ‘Gattaca’ (1997) explore the distinct nature of the human condition in relation to their specific contexts. Golding expresses through ‘Lord of the Flies’ his concerns with post World War 2 and the brutality of both the Axis’s and Allies towards other human beings in their wrestle for power whereas Hillcoat explores the aftermath of a global warming disaster resulting from America’s capitalist society gone wrong and Niccol explores in a futuristic society where humanity’s ability to manipulate genes results in the formation of a perfect human being. In all three of these texts the composer expresses his concerns with humanity’s potential to disregard morality in a self-serving drive for power and survival.
Golding expresses his concern with the deterioration of European society’s moral values due to the the primal instincts of the human condition through ‘Lord of the Flies’. Driven by the events of World War 2, Golding creates the boy’s society as a microcosm of the world. Golding highlights this through the transition from an exuberant mood on the island to a more dark and sinister atmosphere, utilising dialogue to portray the boys folly in attempting to recreate a civilized society “’I’ll give the conch to the next person to speak. He can hold it when his speaking”… “We’ll have rules! He cried excitedly. “Lots of rules!” depicts the boy’s instinctive need for order. Golding uses the shell as a symbol for order, creating a sense of irony through Jack “We’re the English, and the English are the best at everything. So we’ve got to do things right.” Golding emphasises Jack as the figure whom ultimately over-reaches this desire for order in his quest for power through the formation of the savage society that emerges out of anarchy, a reference to the rise of Hitler in the aftermath of World War 2 and Nazi Germany’s greed for power. The regression of society becomes evident through the increasing barbaric actions the boys take which Golding highlights through Roger “Roger’s arm was conditioned by a civilization that knew nothing of him and was in ruins.” Golding highlights the gradual regression of Roger’s civilized morals into an animalistic mindset. Golding further portrays the boys through descriptive language “staggered into an open space where the bright flowers grew and butterflies danced round each other… Jack was on top of the sow, stabbing downwards with his knife.” contrasting the pig as a motif of innocence to the boys animalistic hunger, thus the façade of innocence is destroyed, a connotation to the documentations of the horrific acts of World War 2, no longer hidden by the propaganda of the Axis and Allies. Thus Golding highlights the deterioration of his society’s values through the examination of the boys society and the pressure to conform to an individual primate instincts.
Similarly, Hillcoat’s ‘The Road’ explores the barbaric nature of the human condition where there is a lack of civilisation and moral values, driven by the recent events of climate change and the War on Terror. ‘The Road’ set in a speculative America whereby the capitalistic society has descended into anarchy as a result of the destruction of the sun and the inability of self-sustenance. Thus ‘The Road’ explores the raw brutality of the human condition in an individual’s animalistic instincts to survive. Hillcoat conveys this through the scene when the main protagonist and his son explore a trapdoor only to find dehumanised beings trapped in the cellar. Using a