One year before his death in 1950, George Orwell published a book entitled 1984. Since then, the novel has become a bible to people all over the world. The excitement is not only due to the fact that the novel is written so incredibly, and with such vision, but also because it makes a bold statement about humanity. This can be shown through the story itself, the way Orwell has set up the structure, the way he has written it and finally the way the story had a reality factor behind it. Many of the things he talked about could or are a reality today.
1984?s main character is Winston Smith, a man who is unsure of the integrity of the dictatorial government (Big Brother) that rules Oceania, one of three superstates in the world of 1984. The book begins with Winston?s daily routine and it shows us how this government and this society has changed from that of today?s. The government has developed its own language, is at constant war with the other two superstates, and watches its citizens at all times. Big Brother has the power to manipulate its citizens into easy ways of thinking. This is done by using propaganda techniques; Big Brother also uses Newspeak and telescreens. Newspeak is the official language of Oceania, and has its sole purpose in abolishing all unconventional thought. “Don’t you see that the whole aim of Newspeak is to narrow the range of thought?? Has it ever occurred to your, Winston, that by the year 2050, at the very latest, not a single human being will be alive who could understand such a conversation as we are having now??The whole climate of thought will be different. In fact, there will be no thought, as we understand it now. Orthodoxy means not thinking?not needing to think. Orthodoxy is unconsciousness” (46-47). The telescreens monitor each citizen that is allowed to be educated, at all times, watching for any action, word, or possible thought that could be unconventional. ?It was terribly dangerous to let your thoughts wander when you were in any public place or within range of a telescreen. The smallest thing could give you away. A nervous tic, an unconscious look of anxiety, a habit of muttering to yourself?anything that carried with it the suggestion of abnormality, of having something to hide. In any case, to wear an improper expression on your face? was itself a punishable offence. There was even a word for it in Newspeak: facecrime?” (54). In the novel a co-worker, named Julia, secretly approaches Winston, he learns that he is not alone in his belief that Big Brother is ?ungood.? Winston and Julia become lovers and eventually confess their feelings of rebelliousness to O?Brien, a fellow co-worker, who is believed to be a member of a rebel group, the Brotherhood. However O?Brien turns out to be an informant for the ?Thought Police? and turns Julia and Winston in. After which they are separated and Winston is subjected to many forms of torture in order for him to be ?rehabilitated? and love Big Brother once again.
The book is divided into three parts, each of which is then divided into small chapters. The first section of the book deals with Winston and his conflict with how the society he lives in works. The second section is about his love with Julia and his rebellion against Big Brother. Finally the third section deals with Winston?s capture and his rehabilitation back to a Big Brother loving citizen. At the end of the novel there is an appendix on how Newspeak works. However, Orwell uses this language throughout the entire novel and sometimes it can be a little hard to digest. Although it did give you an understanding of the world Winston was living in, Orwell could have still toned it down just a little bit.
Orwell sets out to show his readers what society could become if everything is let to go to its extreme. “?to do anything that suggested a taste for solitude, even to go for a walk by yourself, was always slightly dangerous. There was a word for it in Newspeak: ownlife?” (70). This shows how one was not allowed to even have time to themselves or conduct a life of their own. This is just more proof on how beautifully Orwell has got his message across. Some of the material proposed in his novel is not too far-fetched from what is already in place in today?s society. The almost scary prediction of the future only adds to the point Orwell was trying to accomplish in the first place.
This book makes you think about whether this type of scenario has a possibility of becoming reality. The way the government is controlling every move you make both in your private and public lives. As well as the fact that they can look in on you at any point of the day and can see what you are doing and hear what you are saying. Technology right now has the capability of doing all of these things. Cameras and microphones so small they are virtually invisible and are almost impossible to detect. The only reason our society is unlike that of the one depicted in the book is because we the people still value our private lives and are unwilling to allow the government or anyone to take that away from us. As soon as we let a ?Big Brother? watch every move that we make and control every thought that we think, we as a society are no longer people; we are just pons for the government to move and play with in any way that they wish. It is human nature to want to know everything all the time, but this is just a little extreme.
This book is relatively easy to follow and is a fun read. However, sometimes it does use a higher level vocabulary that some elementary and young secondary students may have trouble with. The use of Newspeak here and there may throw off some readers but it should not hinder your enjoyment too much. If you are interested in futuristic novels that are not too far off from what is actually happening today, I would highly recommend this book to you.