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Visions of Utopia in Bellamy’s Looking Backward

Visions of Utopia in Looking Backward

Edward Bellamy addressed many of the topics crucial to the development of a civilization in his book, Looking Backward. In the story he addresses several different features of years past utopias. Some being “universal harmony, distribution of occupation according to individual aptitudes, equality of reward, universal ease and comfort, reduction of hours of labor, suppression of idleness, of competition, of the struggle for life, and also for money” (De Laveleye). Many of these topics Bellamy addresses in a positive manner; while others he does not.

In Bellamy’s book, Looking Backward, a character named Julian West suffers from insomnia. Because of his condition, he is put into a soundproof chamber. He falls asleep and does not wake up for over one hundred years. His story is about the civilization that he discovers when he wakes up. America has developed into a socialistic country and is standing on the brink of utopia.

Bellamy addresses inequality in his book, Looking Backward. In the old times; inequality was cured by making the greedy industrial. In this new utopia, there is no need for inequality because everyone has the same. “There shall be no individual production of property and no individual accumulation of it. It shall be produced by the state, and distributed by the state equally to all individuals, without any reference to their function in producing it, intellectually or physically” (Harris). This simply states that in Bellamy’s utopia it makes no difference what your social standing is; everyone is given the same amount of supplies and money.

Bellamy addresses the distribution of professions in Looking Backward. It is quite obvious to realize that the more pl…

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…speak it from time to time. In this way, Bellamy tires to show that his utopia is non-discriminatory.

Edward Bellamy addressed several very tough subjects in his book, Looking Backward. He did this by attempting to create an interesting story in which people could find his views on the future of America as an utopia. Although his attempt at literary fame failed; Bellamy did succeed in exposing possible solutions to many of the problems that still plague our country today: fair job placement, material possessions and poverty, unregulated capitalism, and discrimination.


Taylor, Walter Fuller. “Edward Bellamy”, The Economic Novel. 1897

Bowman, Sylvia E. “Bellamy’s Missing Chapter”, The New England Quarterly. 1958

DeLaveleye, Emile. “Two New Utopia’s”, Contemporary Review. 1890

Harris, W.T. “Edward Bellamy’s Vision”, The Forum. 1889

Free My Antonia Essays: An Analysis

My Antonia

I think that My Antonia, written in 1918, is one of Cather’s finest works. Critic H. L. Mencken thought it to be the most accomplished, and shortly after it was published in 1919 he wrote,

“Her style has lost self-consciousness; her feeling for form has become instinctive. And she has got such a grip upon her materials…I know of no novel that makes the remote folk of the Western praries more real…and I know of none that makes them seem better worth knowing.”

One of the high points in the story is the tragic case of Mr. Shimerda’s death. In this character Cather shows an almost obsessive longing of hers for the past. A cultered man, Antonia’s father cannot handle the hardships he encounters in Nebraska, and longs for his life back in Bohemia. He clings to his Old World wardrobe and foods…”a knitted grey vest, and, instead of a collar, a silk scarf of a dark bronze-green, carefully crossed and held together by a red coral pin.” Homesick for his native land Mr. Shimerda shoots himself. Some critics find Cather’s recurring preoccupation with the past destructive, T. K. Whipple said that there was an element of passion in the theme. “To have cared intensely about anything, is not to have lived in vain.” I think that the theme of the immigrants longing for the past was very fitting. Many of the settlers of the mid-west praries were immigrants, and most did desperately try to cling to their past while building a new life in the melting pot of America. The hardships of the immigrants were not uncommon. Many were forced to go into town to become a “hired girl” as Antonia did before she returned to the farm labor that she enjoyed, where she discovered city life in the dance clubs.

My favorite part about reading My Antonia is the beautiful descriptions of the land and other small details. In this story Jim Burden is not only a narrator for Cather, but for the land. Throughout the story his descriptions bring an eloquent style to her writing and capture the reader into the story. “Everywhere, as far as the eye could reach, there was nothing but rough, shaggy red grass, most as tall as I.” In a phrase that is now on Cather’s tombstone, he comes to accept the power of the land over him, saying, “That is happiness; to be dissolved into something complete and great.

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