George Orwell 1984 Book Review

imagesGeorge Orwell 1984 dystopian novel paints a future where the State, governed by Big Brother, under the control of the Inner Party, has taken supremacy over the continent of Oceania – the individual, and the society – limiting freedom of thought, speech, and even falsifying the country’s history, literature and music, and even coming up with a new language, Newspeak.

I984 shows a grim future whereby the individual has no right to privacy, freedom of expression and thought, or the right to love. Families are turned against one another; the parent against the child, the wife against the husband, all paying their regency and royalty to Big Brother for “BIG BROTHER IS WATCHING YOU”.download

Caught up in this world, where everyone is constantly watched by a telescreen, and lives in fear, Wilson, who works in the Records Department, falls into the trap of thinking that he can join Emmanuel Goldstein counter-revolutionary party to overthrow Big Brother’s rule, together with his sweetheart Julia under the aid pretence of O’Brien, without being caught by the Inner Party. This almost costs his life.

Life in 1984 by George Orwellimages (1)

Wilson is a young man, who works in the Records Department, and is a member of the Outer Party. His work involves proofreading Newspeak, together with rewriting the country’s history. The novel starts in his room, where hiding away from the telescreen, (which is a two way equipment that looks like a TV that monitors one’s every action) he tries to jot down diminutively London’s history before the war between Oceania and Eastasia broke out.

When he goes back to work, he notices O’Brien and a dark haired girl, who later he learns her name as Julia, looking at him albeit for a moment. This is immediately after the Two Minutes Hate that runs through the telescreen with Emmanuel Goldstein abusing Big Brother swearing that his counter-revolution party can never be put out, for everyday it recruits new members, who are bent on seeing his malicious rule come to an end. Slowly at the back of his mind, Wilson’s hate for Big Brother grows in limps and bonds, and he longs to join Goldstein army, read his book with no title often referred to as “THE BOOK” oblivious of course, of the ridiculous indiscriminate arrest by the Though Police, who speculate and charge one for thinking thoughts of indifference towards Big Brother.

Wilson often times dreams of his childhood, before his mother disappeared, when even though they were poor, he was happy. Other times he fancies O’Brien as a leader of the counter-revolutionary group, and that he is destined to join the group to finally end Big Brother’s rule. He constantly fancies hearing O’Brien’s (who works for the Inner Party) voice urging him on to join the counter-revolutionary group. This in the end drives him into a lot of problems.download (3)

Life in Oceania is almost impossible. Everyone is ordered by a voice in the telescreen. Movement is restricted to a certain time. People are tortured and massacred for the most absurd things by the Thought Police, like pondering on hate thoughts for the Inner Party and its leader, Big Brother, speaking in Oldspeak and Doublethink instead of Newspeak, enjoying sexual intercourse, as well as showing affection, for all love should only be expressed to Big Brother.

The population of Oceania is divided into 3 groups. The Poles, (low group or slaves) who form 85% of the population, and are the victims of poverty living in dishevelled neighbourhoods; Outer Party (middle, or hands/workers) who work as per the instructions of Inner Party, and their life is categorised with various activities, as such they have not time for themselves; Inner Party, (high) who are the brains of Big Brother, and set laws for Oceania: the Party is about 6 million, which is about 2% of the population; Big Brother (all-powerful), who is the guise for the party, and through his image, the Inner Party is able to set propagandas and orthodoxies.

One day Wilson is approached by a young girl, who also works for the Outer Party, and gives him a small note saying that she is in love with him. This marks the beginning of their relationship. They often meet in old Charrington shop, upstairs, in the loft, in one of the many Proles’ ghetto neighbourhoods, and have tête-à-tête. This goes on for a long time, (they even meet with O’Brien who gives them Goldstein book with the facade that he is a member of the group), until one day they are arrested by the Thought Police after realising that everything had been carefully planned out by O’Brien, and they had fallen into his trap. They are taken to the Ministry of Love, where they are terribly tortured individually for long periods of time by O’Brien and the Thought Police until in the end, Wilson eventually comes to love and accept Big Brother’s rule.download (2)

The Theory and Practice of Oligarchical Collectivism by Emmanuel Goldstein In Comparison To Big Brother Freedom Is Slavery in 1984 by George Orwell

In Emmanuel Goldstein book, he has tackled diverse themes among them the patriarchal three social classes that are bedded by some political parties so as to rule the society effectively using their slogans like Ignorance is Strength, and War is Peace. Unlike Big who holds that Freedom is Slavery, Goldstein seems to offer better principles of life by first analysing the human history, and how some social classes have for years driven the human existence into particular groups that are bent on ruling others. He clearly shows how the world has over the years evolved with 3 super states governing the entire world. He says:download (1)

“With the absorption of Europe by Russia and of the British Empire by the United States, two of the three existing powers, Eurasia and Oceania, were already effectively in being. The third, Eastasia, only emerged as a distinct unit after another decade of confused fighting. The frontiers between the three super-states are in some places arbitrary, and in others they fluctuate according to the fortunes of war, but in general they follow geographical lines. Eurasia comprises the whole of the northern part of the European and Asiatic land-mass, from Portugal to the Bering Strait. Oceania comprises the Americas, the Atlantic islands including the British Isles, Australasia, and the southern portion of Africa. Eastasia, smaller than the others and with a less definite western frontier, comprises China and the countries to the south of it, the Japanese islands and a large but fluctuating portion of Manchuria, Mongolia, and Tibet.”

He further looks at what has caused the wars between the different continents, and comes to one conclusion, that all forms of wars are driven by one thing: power. The craving for power has made Oceania to be at war with Eastasia, and it is the same greed for power that makes Big Brother to cause so much pain, fear, and miserly to every living soul in Oceania.

Yet in spite of his book, we learn that Goldstein is just a creation by the Inner Party, just as the same way is Big Brother, for though pictures of him appear everywhere in Oceania, nobody has ever seen him physically. He is just an idea that is propagated by the Inner Party to aid in their quest to rule Oceania. Through his image, the Party is able to achieve immortality and power, for like O’Brien observes:

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 ourselves, were cowards and hypocrites. The German Nazis and the Russian Communists came very close to us in their methods, but they never had the courage to recognize their own motives. They pretended, perhaps they even believed, that they had seized power unwillingly and for a limited time, and that just round the corner there lay a paradise where human beings would be free and equal. We are not like that. We know that no one ever seizes power with the intention of relinquishing 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.”

Wilson is tortured, beaten, starved, and done all sorts of things so as to agree with the philosophies of the Inner Party. He acknowledges that when one is in pain, one can say anything just to relieve it. He learns to accept that all sorts of governments use smoke screens to control and deceive people. There is no government in the world that does not crave for and abuse its power. People are massacred, arrested and tortured so as to conform to government’s wishes. All governments of the world, even those that claim to be democratic, exercise their laws in order to attain power. They use this power to get what they want. They intentionally make the population poor, sick, and fearful, so as to be dependent on them for everything, for a population that is under suffering and complete poverty can do anything, so as to live a better life.

Parties elect presidential candidates. When people vote for these candidates for presidency, they think that they are the ones who put them there, while on the contrary, it is the parties. Just like Big Brother is used to vindicate the Inner Party ideologies, in 1984, presidents are also used by parties to obtain their power hungry goals, so that in the end, innocent civilians suffer under the rule of the elite few. This is the way the world runs, and anyone who seeks to change this will have to undergo intense suffering, and he may not necessary change the status quo, but rather conform to the system like Wilson in 1984.

 

 

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