The fine line between an utopia and a dystopia
When you look to the world of divergent, a novel written by Victoria Roth, you will find similarities with Plato´s ideal state. In the divergent novel citizens are classified within five factions based on their skills and values. The factions are dauntless for the brave, amity for the peaceful, eurodite for the intelligent, abnegation for the selfless and candor for the honest. We see a similar classification within the ideal state, where people are classified as leader for their wisdom, guardians for their courage and craftsmen for their temperance. Another similarity is the early education where people all follow the same education until the classification begins. Both worlds have the same goal for their society, to be peaceful and just. There are also differences between the two worlds. In the ideal state you’ll be classified according to the tests you do during your education regardless of your own preference, because “they should assign each individual to the one task he is naturally fitted for […] (Plato, Republic IV, 423D).” In the divergent world you are advised to choose a classification according to the results of a test after the main education, but you can choose different classification if you wish. The most important difference however is that divergent has a dystopian world, where the ideal state is supposed to be a utopian world. In both worlds people are assumed to be happiest doing what they are best at, and are therefore classified. This however raises the question if the human nature is this simple that it can be assigned to just one group out of just a few different groups, what is illustrated by Divergent. Can someone be just brave or peaceful or intelligent or selfless or honest (or any another virtue) without the combination of other virtues? And can someone poses one virtue completely? According to the dystopian world of divergent one should not wish for humans to just posses one virtue, nor is it completely possible. One problem with possessing just one virtue is the lack of possessing or respecting other virtues. In the novel this shows within the factions eurodite and dauntless, where the rulers lack the virtues of amity, abnegation and candor. I dare say that the human nature is much more complex then Plato would have us believe. As Roth wrote in her novel “I want to be brave, and selfless, and smart, and kind, and honest.” We will not know exactly how Plato’s ideal state will work out in the real world but his utopia seems able to become a dystopian for many people who wish to be more than just one thing.