Imagine living in a world where everything you do is watched. This is what Eric Arthur Blair – known by his pen name George Orwell – created in this book. He began writing this book in 1948 just a few years after WO II when a certain pessimist moral seemed to take hold of the people due to the Cold War, when political and military tension between powers was sustained. Orwell has shown opposition to totalitarianism and commitment to democratic socialism in most of his books for example ‘Animal farm’ but in ‘1984’ he shows his opposition against the Soviet-Union in an outstanding way.
Orwell describes frightening prescient state of modern society in this book. He gives us an empty, over-politicized world which is controlled through the eyes of Big Brother and the all-seeing telescreens. He sketches a dystopia, a horrible society which is the exact opposite of an utopia. Which will fright you by it accuracy.
The story follows Winston Smith, a middle-aged man who lives in Oceania – this is a superpower which encompasses what Great Britain is nowadays – He is a lower member of the party, which is separated into three categories; inner party, outer party and the proles. Winston works in the Ministry of Truth where he changes historical information in newspapers and books to portray the government in a better light. The official language spoken in Oceania is called Newspeak, and unlike all other languages, it shrinks instead of expands. Because the ultimate purpose of Newspeak is to create a world in which people would have no words to express so-called ‘unorthodox thoughts’, and therefore can’t share them or even acknowledge them to start with.
At the Ministry he meets a co-worker called Julia a secret affair blossoms between the two of them. But this can’t get out because the party is focused on individualism, people got to have as little interaction with others as possible. Sadly this love story won’t last long, because suddenly they get shaken up from their pink cloud and come to the realisation that the only place that seemed to be safe and private isn’t what they thought it was like. From that point everything escalates really quickly, which in the end leads to both of them coming out of it as an extremely different person with different thoughts and feelings.
‘1984’ is a part of the canon of English literature for many reasons. Let’s take its contribution to the English language. Orwell used a lot of made-up words, idioms and sayings which are now used in everyday society.
Also, the great plot-twist. We are used to the hero vanquishing the bad guys, the hero getting (back) together with the love of his life etc. Instead, Winston, little did the poor man know, gets deceived by the only ones he thinks he can trust; ‘The Brotherhood’. It turns out that all this time he had been walking into the awaiting arms of the government.
Though the use of English is not too hard, the futuristic aspects and the constant doomscenario may be a snare. The book is divided into three parts, with the first one being the toughest nut to crack. It consists of long-winded descriptions, making it a bit boring to read. The second part however is satisfying; after all, who doesn’t like a good love story? The third pard is by far the best; this consists of drama, action, torture and great happenings. Never have I read pages this quick, longing for more of Winston.
Privacy ought to be a right instead of a privilege, yet nowadays this is often the exact opposite. The way in which Orwell vividly captures the anxious feeling of 1984’s society is interesting and surprising. Orwell was ahead of his time when he wrote 1984. This book states that the government will use fear to create a ‘perfect’ society. It states that our thoughts are being influenced by deformed newsstories. We do not have the freedom nor the bravery to use our own mind. Some say the accuracy hurts.
‘He gazed up at the enourmous face. Forty years it had taken him to learn what kind of smile was hidden beneath the dark moustache. O cruel, needless misunderstanding! O stubborn, self-willed exile from the loving breast! Two gin-scented tears trickled down the sides of his nose. But it was all right, everything was all right, the struggle was finished. He had won the victory over himself. He loved Big Brother.’ – (part III, page 342)
Orwell’s prediction may be the scariest of this all, mainly because it is so accurate to the modern-day society.