George Orwell wrote the novel 1984 in the period from 1946 to 1948 and it was published 1949. The permutation of the digits of the year in which the novel was completed indicates a time out which is far in the future and so the novel is also often perceived as a book about the future. But nowadays you can understand the book as a description of our life in which politics has crept into thedailylife.
The book 1984 by George Orwell is a darkly satirical political novel which tells the story of the life of the protagonist Winston Smith, who lives in the fictional super-state of Oceania – a nation controlled entirely by the ruling Ingsoc party and its figurehead dictator: BIG BROTHER. Needless to say, Big Brother controls all aspects of life in Oceania, from where people live, work and eat to the most intimate details of people’s personal lives (including their thoughts). Operating in a surveillance state in which ubiquitous telescreens keep watch over the population at all times, the mere thought of rebellion or disobedience is considered a crime punishable by death (or worse). It’s in this climate of fear and paranoia that Winston tries to stress his individuality and independence.
The party, at the head of Big Brother is controlled not only the past but also the daily life of all the inhabitants of Oceania (besides Eurasia and East Asia is one of the three superpowers of the world). Besides the Ministry of Truth, which deals with the manipulation of the past, there are three other ministries. The Ministry of Peace, which is responsible for the war propaganda, the Ministry of Plenty, whose jurisdiction is the economy, and the Ministry of Love, which “takes care” of criminals and traitors. The residents are permanently monitored by tele screens and so there is no moment in which they can not be controlled. There is even a thought police, which monitors the thoughts of people and each captures that revolutionary or deviating from the party line entertains thoughts. The party is also trying to introduce a new language – called Newspeak – reduce the vocabulary of the people so drastically that they can commit no more thought crimes. The rest of daily life is marked by the party. In the morning the alarm goes off for all residents who need the same time to work, at the same time, all must participate in an age-appropriate fitness program, residents are not allowed to me to address Mr. or Mrs. but only with PAL and it is regulated as much money on clothes and may be issued for food. In addition, attempts to destroy the party and the sex drive and enjoyment of sex. This is done firstly by the Anti Sex League, which already tried to educate children according to this principle. On the other hand, no two people who love each other do not marry. It may only be married if there is no risk that the two could have fun in sex. Sex is intended for the production of young party.
The greatest opponent of the party, the Brotherhood, which is led by Emmanuel Goldstein, a former party member. Goldstein is the enemy of the party and every day in the so-called hate minute of all the inhabitants of Oceania “hated” to command the party. However, it is possible that Goldstein and the Brotherhood do not exist but was invented by the game as bait for potential revolutionaries.
Winston is one of those secret revolutionaries. He is among those who still have memories of the time before the revolution and the takeover of the party, and therefore knows that agree not all that tells the party can. Added to this is his job where he has to falsify information on a daily basis. Winston harbours a great hatred for the party and this can run free in his way illegally keeping a diary. In addition, he frequently visited the slums of the proletariat, where he is expected to spend not really. These raids and also in his daily work he notices a woman who follows him always. First, he believes that she is a spy of the Thought Police, but one day she put him unnoticed to a note that says: I love you.
The two try to take in the impact, need to do this secretly, without the tele-screens to record this. Since this is very difficult, they can meet only rarely. Since them, the not enough, they rent a room in the slums that has seemingly no tele screen. There, they meet regularly, have sex and enjoy life. Julia can muster bread, tea, coffee and jam (what else may take only the highest party members themselves). In addition, her make-up and puts on female clothes – something she may never do, for all members of the party must wear blue overalls.
Winston and Julia combines the hatred against the Party and the knowledge to rebel by her affair in the small against the game. Winston has long been suspected that O’Brien might be an employee at the Ministry of Truth, also an opponent of the party. Winston as this to be invited into her house, the case for it is clear. Winston takes Julia to O’Brien, and with this comes across as a member of the Brotherhood. Perform a brief conversation in which Julia and Winston swear to do everything for the Brotherhood to harm the party. In the following days, they will receive the book “The theory and practice of oligarchical collectivism” that Emmanuel Goldstein said to have written. Winston is on fire and began to read in a rented room. Julia also is on board and the two talk about how they want to harm the party. They know that they can go with it in great danger and even as they talk about is her room surrounded by the thought police, and the two were arrested. The landlord is a member of the Thought Police, and has watched them all the time.
Winston has lived through captivity in the Ministry of Love. He is questioned, tortured and tormented. With great pain he confesses everything, including acts he did not commit. He loses track of time and his physical condition is deteriorating. The torture evolved over time into a brainwashing that tries to be, Winston converting to a party member. This is done by O’Brien, who, as he explains Winston belongs to the party leadership and not for brotherhood. O’Brien explains that the party killing anyone who is not a party member with full conviction. They would convert every traitor and then kill. In long discussions with O’Brien and many agonizing hours of torture Winston begins to realize that he has no other choice, but to submit to the party. From this moment on he will be treated better, no longer tortured and get more to eat. What the party but so far escaped, is the fact that Winston in his heart hates the party still hopes that he is able, at the moment in which he is killed, the whole hate to let run free. But before that happens, it will be the undoing of a dream in which he cries out for Julia. O’Brien sees this as proof that Winston still loves Julia and not the party and Big Brother. For this reason, Winston is brought into the room 101, where each prisoner waits on his personal worst idea. In Winston, these are rats. Out of sheer panic, he begs to be allowed to have the punishment Julia. The party has reached its goal, Winston betrayed Julia and his resistance was broken. As a consequence, Winston is released. He did a poor job, deals with a lot of chess and drinking large amounts of alcohol every day. He meets by chance once again to Julia and in conversation, he finds out that she has betrayed him. The two discover that the party has destroyed their feelings for each other.
In “1984”, Orwell creates a society of rebellious characters, cities in ruin and an oppressive, totalitarian government lead by Big Brother. It is a world in which ignorance is bliss.
“From where Winston stood it was just possible to read, picked out on its white face in elegant lettering, the three slogans of the Party: war is peace, freedom is slavery, ignorance is strength.”
“The Party seeks power entirely for its own sake. We are not interested in the good of others; we are interested solely in power. Not wealth or luxury or long life or happiness: only power, pure power. What pure power means you will understand presently. We are different from all the oligarchies of the past, in that we know what we are doing. All the others, even those who resembled us, were cowards and hypocrites.”
In “1984” Oceania’s residents are being convinced that the constant state of war in their country is held against a foreign superpower known as Eurasia and the internal underground organization called brotherhood. Goldstein, who is thought to be a leader of the brotherhood, is claimed to be an anti-revolutionary leader, who supports Eurasia. People of Oceania are also imposed with the image of their leader “Big Brother” and made believe that he will protect them from the enemy and will achieve the ultimate party’s goal of implementing “English socialism”, “ingsoc”.
Same as in any propaganda initiated either by democratic or totalitarian forces an inevitable part of the process is visualization of an enemy. In other words, there should be a definite object of hate and contempt, which should be blamed for all disasters and consequently unite all people on the opposite side against it. More often, as it appears throughout the history, such object is not a certain nation or leader, but the movement which is being attributed to the people involved in it.
Big Brother is the dictator of the nation of Oceania. He is said to be ever-present, as the mantra “Big Brother is watching you” (Orwell 2) is plastered on billboards and other forms of public notice. The totalitarian government controls the people of Oceania through Reality Control, or “doublethink.” For example, Winston says, “In the end the Party would announce that two and two made five, and you would have to believe it” (Orwell 80). This means that even if the claim is undeniably false, the fact that every other person believed it to be true makes the claim true, in this case two plus two equaling five. Another example of Oceania’s regime is constant war. The government uses the idea of war to keep the people’s thoughts occupied with hate instead of thoughts of rebellion. For instance, during the Two Minutes Hate, a rally to lead the citizens into a blind rage, the images on the screen turn into a Eurasian soldier to advocate the hatred of Eurasia itself: “[the shape] melted into the figure of a Eurasian soldier who seemed to be advancing, huge and terrible, his submachine gun roaring…” (Orwell 15). Together Big Brother, doublethink and constant war represent the times of 1984 and the control of the people of Oceania.
In Oceania this control of masses was applied through the thought police, which was persecuting the violators of the thought crime. This was a very effective tool of controlling human expression. However, even this was not enough to have a full control of people’s minds and their ability of rational thinking about issues at stake. Therefore, Big Brother went a step further by establishing control of people’s means of communicating ideas and inventing a new primitive language, which was contrary to the “oldspeak” English in preventing people to articulate freely. This language was called “newspeak”. It had the ability to subvert reason by giving nonsensical and primitive concepts such as “thoughtcrime”, “goodthink” and “doublespeak” (Orwell, 1990).
Throughout the history language served as the most basic tool of survival for humankind, therefore freedom of speech, recognized even by our Founding Fathers, is one of the most essential elements of liberty. The intellect of human beings demands this tool as the basic means for communication. Today the U.S. government is manipulating the language quite effectively. The examples are found anywhere. One of them is the excessive exhibition of the weapons of mass destruction. In “1984” this is referred to as “doubleplusungood” (Orwell, 1990).
George Orwell uses the descriptions of certain places to get his ideas across in 1984. Winston Smith’s apartment building, the city in Airstrip One and the Ministry of Truth all promote one idea: the Party is superior to all citizens of Oceania. These two places represent the inferiority of the citizens of Oceania. The Party, on the other hand, has sensational buildings that any architect would admire. The Ministry of Truth, for instance, is an “enormous pyramidal structure of glittering white concrete, soaring up, terrace after terrace, three hundred meters into the air” (Orwell 4). Invariably, George Orwell’s message is that the Party is a cut above the citizens in every way
In closing, George Orwell’s novel 1984 used strong descriptions to get his ideas across. His ideas represent what he thinks life could become like in fifty or so years if dictatorship is allowed to continue. Tyrannical governments could surface, cities could be in ruins and radicals could be prosecuted for simply thinking rebellious thoughts. George Orwell describes these ideas through an oppressive, totalitarian government, decrepit living situations and rebellious characters.
The novel 1984, was intended as a warning against totalitarian tendencies rather than as a prophetic work. Now that the year 1984 has passed, many may scoff at the warning, but those who do would be wise to look at the present a bit more closely. Currently, we have subliminal messages, two-way televisions, computer viruses threatening to endanger our much depended-upon information systems (with possible global impact), and countries all over the world committing atrocities against their own people. Recent political campaigns have shown us explicitly the extent to which propaganda has corrupted our own language. Politicians have perfected their own type of “Newspeak.”
Examine our postmodern style in literature and you will find themes of isolation, repression, and loneliness. The characters of postmodern literature lead surface lives that are mere facades put up for the benefit of appearances. Unfortunately, this is the only fantasy to be found in the writing. It is as if imagination has given up, crushed by the weight of the world’s problems. Like the citizens of Oceania, many postmodern writers have become mere recorders of a hopeless world rather than creators of a new one.
Winston catch yourself, and as he was falling to the propaganda of the party, when he and the rest of the population follows the fake war records of the party. The book ends with a vision of death of Winston, in which he sees himself as he is murdered by the thought police, but before even confesses his love for Big Brother.
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