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Eric Blair was born in Motihari, Bengal, India, as the second child of Richard Walmesley Blair and Ida Mabel Limonzin. He had an older sister, Majorie, and a younger sister named Avril. With his frequent use of humor, he described his family background as "lower-upper-middle class." At the age of one, Eric moved to England, which as time grew on, he grew a sympathetic view of the English class system. After Eric had finished his studies in Eton, England, he could not achieve a scholarship or afford a tuition, so he joined the Indian Imperial Police in Burma in 1922. Eventually however he resigned and returned to England in 1928 because he began to grow and hate imperialism which was shown in his earlier works.
For several years, George lived in poverty and was sometimes homeless and doing work that was nowhere near his impeccable skill. In 1928 he had decided to become a writer, and although his early efforts were amateurish, in 1930 he contributed regularly to the New Adelphi, and in 1933 he assumed the pseudonym which his publications would go by. George Orwell was the pen name chosen for Eric's long deep affection for the English tradition and countryside. George being for George, the patron saint of England, and Orwell is for the River Orwell in Suffolk which was one of George's most beloved English sites.
In the 1940s, Orwell began to take on socialistic views, and because of the outbreak of the Civil War in Spain, Orwell like many of his counterparts went to Spain to report on the war. He ended up serving alongside the United Workers Marxist Party militia until Stalinists on their own side started to hunt down Anarchists. Orwell's friends were thrown into prison, but he had escaped with his wife Eileen Blair. The Civil War made him oppose communism and he became an advocate of the English brand of socialism. Orwell was then monitored by Special Branch police since the late 1920s, although eventually they decided he was not a threat.
Orwell started to re-support himself by writing book reviews until 1940. He then joined the war effort during World War II becoming a sergeant of the Home Guard. Orwell opposed a war with Germany, but he condemned fascism proclaiming that,
"Political language -- and with variations this is true of all political parties, from Rosenstein 2
Conservatives to Anarchists -- is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind" (Orwell). In 1941, he started to work for the BBC on programs to gain Indian and East Asian support for Britain's War efforts. However in 1943 he resigned due to him believing that he was shaping propaganda which went against the values he stood for. He had even stated ,"at present, I'm just an orange that's been trodden on by a very dirty boot" (Woodcock 42).
In 1949, Orwell published Nineteen Eighty-Four which was written in the bleak postwar limbo. "It was a bitter protest against the nightmarish future and corruption of truth and free speech of the modern world" (Liukkonen 1). He wrote the novel during his stay on the island of Jura, which is off the coast of Scotland. That same year, Orwell died at the age of 46 from tuberculosis, which has rumored to have been from his poor lifestyle in Europe. He was buried in the All Saints' Churchyard, in Sutton Courtenay, Oxfordshire. On his gravestone it states, "Here Lies Eric Arthur Blair, born June 25th 1903, died January 21st 1950."
2. FORM/STRUCTURE, PLOT: 1984 has a classic plot structure with a three plot act. We learn the events of the course of the novel through Winston, in which later will be described as Orwell's writing style. Quite frequently, Orwell uses foreshadowing to emphasize events that will proceed to happen in the novel. For example, Winston becomes giddy with joy after discovering Julia's promiscuous nature by the narrator explaining, "His heart leapt. Scores of times she had done it: he wished it had been hundreds - thousands. Anything that hinted at corruption always filled him with a wild hope. Who knew, perhaps the Party was rotten under the surface, its cult of strenuousness and self-denial simply a sham concealing iniquity" (Orwell 125). Julia's multiple partners gives Winston the information he needs to know that these men are not only the supporters of the party, but those that try to conceal their true emotions. This progresses the storyline and Winston's emotional reaction to Julia. The novel also consists of a simple, and sequencing plot outline, which goes in accordance with the three plot act. In the final act, Winston goes through his complete cycle when the narrator states, "â€¦But it was all right, everything was all right, the struggle was finished.
He had won the victory over himself. He loved Big Brother" (Orwell 297). Winston has finally completed his change in that Big Brother has won. This is what Orwell had lead up to in the first and second acts of the novel.
The three plot structure in the novel begins with Act I which takes place in Book one. In this act we experience the life of Winston Smith through his eyes and that of the narrator. We come to realize that Winston is not happy with his life, and despises the Party. We then move on to Act II, which takes place within Book two. We learn of a minor character Julia and her and Winston's new found love affair, and love being the idea of Book 2. Not just love for Julia, but love in terms of political acts. It ends with Julia and Winston being taken away by the thought police. The final act of Act III takes place within Book three. Here we follow Winston into the party's chambers were O'Brien eventually conforms Winston back to loving and accepting the party, in the end being that Big Brother has won.
Orwell purposely makes his plot simple so he can clearly convey his negative ideas on the new society. He uses the plot structure to have Winston's story unfold rapidly to keep the reader interested from the beginning to the end. By establishing Winston as the common man in this typical structure, Orwell can relate to the reader and continue to keep their attraction to his ever evolving story.
3. POINT OF VIEW/ PERSPECTIVE: We the reader see the vantage point from a third person, limited omniscient. Most of the story is told from a narrator's perspective in order to enable the reader to become Winston. The perspective is reliable because the purpose of this view from Orwell himself, is to become Winston. With unreliable ideas, we would not be Winston, and we would not know his emotions or true feelings or his thoughts. For example, we are Winston when we read his inner thoughts when he says, "The immediate advantages of falsifying the past were obvious, but the ultimate motive was mysterious. He took up his pen again and wrote: I understand HOW: I do not understand WHY" (Orwell 80). We are Winston, and all his thoughts translate into our own. This important idea is received with complete understanding. Although, the perspective shifts to an in between stance when Winston is talking yet we notice the outside looking in when he
says, "Never, for any reason on earth, could you wish for an increase of pain. Of pain you could wish only one thing: that it should stop. Nothing in the world was so bas as physical pain. In the face of pain there are no heroes, no heroes, he thought over and over as he writhed on the floor, clutching uselessly at his disabled left arm" (Orwell 239). Every human knows the identification of pain, but specifically we do not know Winston's pain. With this we are unable to identify with him and are completely relying on that of the narrator's take on the situation. In a complete perspective shift we only know of the situation through the narrator's voice when they talk about Winston's thoughts by saying, "He thought with a kind of astonishment of the biological uselessness of pain and fear, the treachery of the human body which always freezes into inertia at exactly the moment when a special effort is needed," (Orwell 102). Here we cannot begin to identify with Winston at all, for we have no idea what his thoughts are. We only can rely on the narrator and what his description of the situation has become. With the third person limited omniscient view, the narrator fills us in with the loose details while Winston himself lets us become him.
4. CHARACTER: In 1984, there consists of one main character Winston Smith, and two minor characters in Julia and O'Brien. Winston Smith is a headstrong individual who has his own beliefs and is paranoid about all of the people around him. For example, Winston spends much of his time sitting in his apartment writing in his diary phrases such as, "theyll shoot me i dont care theyll shoot me in the back of the neck i dont care down with big brother they always shoot you in the back of the neck i dont care down with big brother" (Orwell 19). Winston cares less about himself and more about the wronging of the government. It further produces his paranoid atmosphere. In addition, Winston describes his fear when he writes in his diary, " 'If there is hope,' he had written in the diary, 'it lies in the proles.' The words kept coming back to him, statement of a mystical truth and a palpable absurdity" (Orwell 87). We learn that when in fear and doubt, Winston begins to change. He becomes a sort of ruthless and hopeless man. Although we feel no empathy towards Winston, we see a different side of him when the narrator describes his emotional reaction by stating, "At the sight of the words I love you the desire to stay alive had welled up in him, and the taking of minor risks suddenely seemed stupid" (Orwell 109). Here, as the audience, we see a completely different side to Winston. Usually his character is very dull, but here we see some feeling and emotion coming from within. Winston Smith middle-aged man, and a very dynamic character, and at first he was opposed to The Party but in the end, he loved it.
Julia and O'Brien are the two minor characters that progress Winston's story for the audience. While Winston is in the story to represent one side of us, the meek, fearful, and questioning (the "silent majority"), Julia represents the side of us who is brave, and in effect, Julia is Winston's courage. Without her, there is no story. For example, Julia appeared to be an avid zealous party member, but that was far from the truth when the narrator stated, "She spent an astonishing amount of time in attending lectures and demonstrations, disturbing literature for the junior Anti-Sex League, preparing banners for Hate Week, making collections for the savings campaign, and such-like activites. It paid, she said, it was camouflage. If you kept the small rules, you could break, the big ones" (Orwell 129). Without Julia, we the audience would have to think of the story in our own minds. It would require an effort to work up some kind of emotion, and with Julia, we feel the pain of the story immediately. O'Brien is a very intelligent man, and during the course of the novel, he had always maintained a parent and/or teacher relationship with Winston. In addition, O'Brien is being described by the narrator when they state, "He had the air of a doctor, a teacher, even a priest, anxious to explain and persuade rather than to punish" (Orwell 245). We learn of O'Brien's personality and what he is really like. This being a key because we learn this through the narrator which is relaying Winston's thoughts. Julia is a woman at the age of 36 who is as beautiful as an INGSOC member could be, with her main goal in life being to do as much as she could against the Party to stay alive. O'Brien is an understanding yet powerful individual who is somewhat controlling, especially when he saw Winston suffering and put his hand on his shoulder to help him through it. Through Julia, she allows us to become attached to the relationship between herself and Winston. And in the end, instead of feeling noting, we feel Winston's emotional betrayal, and in turn we become betrayed as well. Through her, we are able to see the true depth of Winston's conversion, and when it is complete he is completely lost, and in turn we are completely lost. With these two characters, we see the progression of Winston, and the progression in our own thoughts.
5. SETTING: The novel occurs in 1984, and is set in the near future of the country Oceania. The city is still London although now it is called Airstrip One. Winston sees London like a dark city, with the colors being consistently grey. The atmosphere is of ruins and everything everywhere is dirty. The setting compliments the hierarchical society in which the main idea is a question of money and power, somebody who is higher who sees everything and everyone. After the war progresses in the novel, the setting resumes with cold winds and the same advertising and promotion everywhere: Big Brother's poster. In addition, Mr. Charrington's rented room plays an important dynamic for it is Winston and Julia's secret hideaway where they come to make love and hide from the telescreens, and the Ministry of Love which is a rehabilitation center that uses torture and brainwashing technique in order to completely conform its prisoners.
The setting creates a bleak and gloomy plot, making the environment have an uncomfortable feeling and uneasy attitude. When describing the Ministry of Truth, the narrator explains, "â€¦the Ministry of Truth, his place of work, towered vast and white above the grimy landscape" (Orwell 3). The description of the grimy landscape keeps in line with every other place that the novel presents. Another similar evaluation is when the narrator at the very beginning of the novel describes the room Winston is in by stating, "The hallways smelt of boiled cabbage and old rag mats" (Orwell 1). By just reading this quote, we have the ability to picture what the hallway actually would have looked like. As the plot progressed throughout the course of the novel, so did the setting. It followed the stages of darker and less vibrant as time and sequences went on. It is best told in this dynamic, in this way, because it explains the issues and uneasiness that Orwell had been meaning to get across along every page.
6. THEME: The overall theme is the consequences of living in a communist/totalitarianism society in which every aspect of society is so controlled by government that individuals do not have the chance or even the right to write, speak, think, or live freely. At the current time of 1948, in which Orwell wrote the novel, the same situation had taken place with the United States and that of Communist Russia at the end of World War II. George Orwell had wanted to warn people what could possibly happen if government was filled with too much power. He wanted to show us exactly how government could develop, and the methods that government uses to keep the people in their given society in line. This particular theme reveals a certain underlying truth that many believe that when you create a government, it continues to grow. It never stops and continues at a high concentrated and expensive rate. It continues to be remote with the people, and that is what makes the text in support of the theme.
Government and those involved are everywhere, and George Orwell never hesitates to make that apparent throughout the whole novel. For example, the narrator explains life in Oceania by saying, "Always the eyes watching you and the voice enveloping you. Asleep or awake, working or eating, indoors or outdoors, in the bath or in the bed - no escape. Nothing was your own except the few cubic centimeters in your skull" (Orwell 27). This explains the element that Government is totalitarian and power is explained thoroughly in this quote given by the narrator for the description what the so called "party" was in Oceania. "The party seeks power entirely for its own sake. We are not interested in the good of others; we are interested solely in powerâ€¦" (Orwell 263). The government's job is not to save the people, the job is to grow in power, grow in wealth, and grow in control of the individuals. The party has only specific motives, and that completes everything that they strive for. In addition, there is a sort of common ideal throughout the citizen's and officials in that, "The ideal set up by the Party was something huge, terrible, and glittering - a world of steel and concrete, of monstrous machines and terrifying weaponsâ€¦" (Orwell 74). The clear premise of everything in the novel, a giant uncontrollable, hidden element that is the basis for the words Orwell uses.
7. CRITICAL REVIEW:
8. DICTION: 1984 is a novel consistent with alarming and creepy language. Orwell's sentences are direct, with minimal flourish with high efficiency and little embellishment in the world that he has created. With dark humor, and the ability to make the reader apart of the world, George Orwell made a concise and slightly dense novel.
We learn of this fluctuated world through very precise wording and little flow. For example, Winston makes the claim that, "Freedom is the freedom to say that two plus two make four. If that is granted, all else follows" (Orwell 81). Orwell empowers us with dull, matter of fact explanations. With what little wording he provides us, it creates a bold statement into the mind of Winston. In addition, the narrator describes that, "With hands locked together, invisible among the press of bodies, they stared steadily in front of them, and instead of the eyes of the girl, the eyes of the aged prisoner gazed mournfully at Winston out of nests of hair" (Orwell 117). With this quotes direct flourish meaning, Orwell has the ability to enable the reader to become Winston, all the while the narrator describing the situation. Orwell's main objective is to put the audience into the character's mind, all the while making sure we fully understand the context of his passages. With the bold use of language in the shortest context, 1984 appears to us and we are able to become the character's.
As well as the word choice of minimum and direct content, Orwell also uses vulgar and dark humor description, keeping the alarming and creepy element a common emphasis throughout the novel. For example, the narrator was introducing the character Julia and stated, "She had had her first love-affair when she was sixteen, with a Party member of sixty who later committed suicide to avoid arrest. 'And a good job too,' said Julia, 'otherwise they'd have had my name out of him when he confessed'" (Orwell 131). With the mention of gothic elements, Julia creates a humor quality in something that is considered universally sad. Dark humor is fully expressed here by the shear objection to consideration for the suicide event. In addition, the narrator is defining power when they state, "We know that no one ever seizes power with the intention of relinquising it. Power is not a means, it is an end. One does not establish a dictatorship in order to safeguard a revolution; one makes the revolution in order to establish the dictatorship. The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power. Now do you begin to understand me?" (Orwell 263). Added to Orwell's use of bold content, his word choice in order to describe power creates a dark expression in the midst of the text. He uses an unprecedented amount of language and sophistication in order to describe persecution, power, and torture.
The language and creative word choice that George Orwell uses provides 1984 with the elements to express the environment that these characters are subject to. Without his highly efficient word choice, and intellectual language, this novel would not have been what it grew to become. 1984 is full of sophistication and thoughtful dialect.
9. SYNTAX: Sentence structure varies within each unique novel. For this specific piece, Orwell uses patterns to create an easy read for the reader, and the convey the dialogue of the various characters. Without its built and design, the sentences would not be able to repeat the message that Orwell had been writing in all of his various works.
In 1984, the sentences are predominantly simple with precision and flow. For example, Winston evaluates an on going issue when he states, "Oceania was at war with Eurasia: therefore Oceania had always been at war with Eurasia" (Orwell 34). With such a short and simple sentence, Winston explains such a bold statement. We are able to understand the prescene of Eurasia and Oceania. In addition, the narrator illuminates a description of a man's face by explaining his description, "His thin dark face had become animated, his eyes had lost their mocking expression and grown almost dreamy" (Orwell 51). A simple sentence to fit Orwell's style. Orwell stated that if it was possible, never use a long world when a short one will do, and if it is possible to cut a word out, always cut it out, and with that evaluation, notice how we are straight to the point of the description of this man's face. The precise, short, and simple sentences give the text no notion of complication and only invigorating statements.
The sentences placed are key short phrases that fit the issue presented. The narrator speaks of the embrace of battle when they say, "Their embrace had been a battle, the climax a victory. It was a blow struck against the Party. It was a political act" (Orwell 126). Again, this statement is clear cut to the point, and no dancing around the common issue. The overall message of Orwell's writing is to convey an important message as simple as possible, and he does that in great position here. When a definition of privacy is provided, it is described as, "Privacy, he said, was a very valuable thing" (Orwell 137). The impact of such a statement is provided in the few words that are used to write it. Privacy is a valuable thing, and we as the audience can fully see the potential of such a thing through the highlighted use of such key phrases. These examples provide us with the clear evaluation of syntax in the novel.
1984 is a novel of very simple sentences. It contains short phrases that fit the issue alongside minimal punctuation to confuse the audience. The bold use of these short sentences give 1984 a profound impact when being read.
10. SYBOLISM: In 1984 there is various symbolism that Orwell presents to the novel. The variety of symbols include the thought police, the victory gin, Julia's scarlet sash, and the common emotions of hope and strength. These simple things provide underlying meanings for Orwell's ulterior motives.
With the thought police, victory gin, Julia's scarlet sash, and hope and strength, we can explain the use of symbolism in the novel. The narrator talks about the thought police by saying, "A few agents of the Thought Police moved always among them, spreading false rumors and marking down and eliminating the few individuals who were judged capable of being dangerous" (Orwell 71). The thought police are symbols for every position in government society that is controlling the citizens. The victory gin can be explained through cigarettes as stated in this quote, "Great areas of it, even for a party member, were neutral and non-political, a matter of slogging through dreary jobs, fighting for a place on the Tube, darning a warn-out sock, cadging a saccharine tablet, saving a cigarette end" (Orwell 74). The mention of the cigarette end is in alliance with the victory gin and victory cigarettes. The significance of Julia's sash, is explained through this quote by stating, " 'It's this bloody thing that does it,' she said, ripping off the scarlet sash of the Junior Anti-Sex League and flinging it on to a bough. Then, as though touching her waist had reminded her of something, she felt in the pocket of her overalls and produced a small slab of chocolate. Broke it in half and gave one of the pieces to Winston" (Orwell 121). When Winston reveals to Julia that he believed that she was affiliated with the Thought Police, Julia chuckles at the thought, asserting that she isn't very loyal and rips off the sash that was once bounded around her body. Of course symbolization her disaffiliation with the party. With one last symbol, Orwell addresses Hope and Strength through this quote which reads, "They could not alter your feelings: for that matter you could not alter them yourself, even if you wanted to. They could lay bare in the utmost detail everything that you had done or said or thought; but the inner heart, whose workings were mysterious even to yourself, remained impregnable" (Orwell 167). This symbol for Hope and Strength is signified through the thought that Winston understood the vast tools of the Party allow the Party to monitor every action a person performs. However, the party could not change people's feelings. Through these specific symbols, we learn of unique items that accompany them.
11. TONE: George Orwell's attitude in regards to the novel is gloomy with a matter of fact unarmented style. By making the audience become the character Winston, we can sense the atmosphere to be depressing with the melancholy dialogue and attitude of characters, settings, and the plot structure. For example, Winston discusses the people by saying, "Until they become conscious they will never rebel, and until after they have rebelled they cannot become conscious" (Orwell 70). The restricted speech provides us with the dull element that Orwell needed to get across. The audience is more involved with the feeling that this style provides. In addition however, an ironic tone is also apparent throughout the novel, especially in this quote in which Winston again describes the idea of big government by saying, "History has stopped. Nothing exists except an endless present in which the Party is always right. I know, of course, that the past is falsified, but it would never be possible for me to prove it, even when I did the falsification myself" (Orwell 155). This quote displays irony in that Winston had commented that the Party controls society to the extent that it also controls history as well. He also states that it is impossible to find proof that contradicts the history rewritten by the Party because no such proof exists - it is destroyed. With the tone description of gloomy, with a hint of irony, Orwell has the ability to display his futuristic world of 1984 to us, the audience.
12. TITLE: The title of the novel 1984 is appropriate because at the current time at which George Orwell had written the story, the date was 1948. At the current time, Orwell was suggesting that if the totalitarian model of government was not discredited and abandoned, the world might look the way he made it appear in the novel, in 1984. It symbolic meaning, is to demonstrate that his time of life should change their ways, and move on past the power and social structure, and onto a more democratic style. 1984 appears frequently throughout the novel, to highlight the date of the time this story was taking place. As well, it was used to illuminate the current date of 1948, so it was repeated furiously in the audience's mind. Orwell used this title to convey his theme of power and control and what it meant to live in this futuristic 1984. Case in point, Winston again makes a remark when he says, "There was course no way of knowing whether you were being watched at any given moment. How often, or on what system, the Thought Police plugged in on any individual wire was guesswork. It was even conceivable that they watched everybody all the timeâ€¦" (Orwell 3). This is the whole reason that Orwell had written the novel, to express the concern of the current government, and its consequences. If it did not alter the government rule, it would eventually consume itself and destroy itself and the people. The title plays a key role in the text as a whole, and without this specific title, the alternate title would not have as much meaning or definition to it.
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