1984 is a story about a man, Winston Smith, who lives in 1984. The world has changed drastically and dramatically into three continents called Oceania, Eurasia and Eastasia. Winston lives in Eurasia. Life is boring, you can’t choose what to do. There is only one political party that tells everybody what to do, called INGSOC.
Winston works at the Ministry of Truth. His job is changing the records Big Brother wants to change. For example: Eurasia is at war with Oceania. Suddenly they’re at war with Eastasia. Winston has to change all records to make it look as if they have always been at war with Eastasia.
The world in 1984 probably looked like this.
Winston doesn’t like the way things are going. He wants to choose for himself what to do. In 1984 everybody is being watched all the time, even when they’re at home. Nobody has any privacy. Big TV screens are watching you 24/7. Nobody is allowed to think or decide for themselves. Even the children are raised according to rules set by the Party. They will tell immediately on their parents when they do something illegal.
One day Winston meets a beautiful woman, Julia. He doesn’t like beautiful women because he would like to talk to them, but he is not allowed to do so by the police. The Thoughtpolice especially is bad. If they notice you think differently they will make you disappear. ‘Vanishing’ they call it.
One day Julia drops him a note saying: ‘I love you’. They can’t talk, otherwise the TV screens will notice it and they will be arrested. She gives him a map to a place in the woods. When they arrive there, they make love. Then they go to a mr O’Brien because they think he is a rebel who also fights for freedom. Winston rents a place above a shop for him and Julia. He thinks it’s a good shop because they sell things you can’t find in Eurasia. They get arrested by the Thoughtpolice in the end. It turns out O’Brien was a member all the time.
Winston gets tortured to make him love Big Brother. He thinks: ‘Freedom is the freedom to say that two plus two make four.’ O’Brien tortures him so hard that Winston says: ‘OK, two plus two is five.’ After a long time in the Ministery of Love (where they torture him) they set him free.
Winston’s idea of ultimate freedom is to think before he gets shot: ‘Big Brother is nothing, I don’t love it’. But he fails.
I think Orwell wrote the book very well, it was a pleasure to read. You know by just reading it he must be very smart, he has thought a lot about his subject before writing. But do we see something of the Party right now? I don’t think so. I think the Party is a kind of Nazi’s, because it decides for everyone. If the Party was real, then life wouldn’t be as it is today. Then life really sucks. I think society wouldn’t be this smart. People become smart because they can think. If we are not allowed to think anymore, what point is there in living? You must have thoughts of your own, otherwise there will never be any changes.
Wiebe Jelsma, V5E