Department of English
Master of English
Northrop Frye was the first theorist to develop the green world archetype; Frye used the term to refer to a recurring motif in Shakespearean comedy. In several of Shakespeare's comedies, the protagonists leave the civilized world and venture into the green world, or nature, to escape from the irrational law of society, which is the case in such comedies as As You Like It and A Midsummer Night's Dream. Elements of the green world can also be found in Shakespearean tragedy, where the natural retreat serves as a temporary escape for the protagonists. Such a green world exists in three of the most well known examples of dystopian fiction: George Orwell's 1984, Aldous Huxley's Brave New World, and Yevgeny Zamyatin's We. In these three novels, the protagonists take flight from the repressive dystopia and journey into nature. In the green world, the protagonists attain individual freedom and identity and experience emotions, passions, beauty, the past, and the power of language. Each of these elements, which are associated with the green world, stand in opposition to the dystopian society's doctrine. The green world, then, becomes an escape, a place where the protagonists can temporarily live a free life away from the tyrannical powers of the dystopic society. The dystopian green world experience follows a pattern of flight, immersion, and departure. In the first segment, the protagonists flee from the oppressive society and into nature; in the second, they immerse themselves within the green world where they experience new sensations, emotions, and gain new insights and understanding; in the third, the protagonists depart the green world and return to the civilized world in order to confront it with the knowledge they have gained while immersed in the green world. This pattern can also be viewed as a symbolic cycle that moves from death to rebirth to death. The first death is the death-like stasis of the dystopia and of the protagonist, who is just a part of the whole and not truly an individual. The symbolic rebirth conies when the protagonists depart the green world as individuals with new know ledge and experiences. Lastly, the second symbolic, or sometimes literal death, comes when the protagonists confront the dystopia with their new knowledge, have that knowledge challenged by an agent of the dystopia, usually in the form of a trial, and, finally, are symbolically or literally destroyed by the dystopian agent.
English Language and Literature
Hensley, Martin, "The Green World of Dystopian Fiction" (2006). Masters Theses & Specialist Projects. Paper 276.