1984 by George Orwell

George Orwell could predict the future. His book 1984 is set in a dystopian future where every action and thought is controlled by the authority using ‘telescreens’. It resembles the present day too much. Amina Ahmed explains why this book is a must-read

WAR IS PEACE

FREEDOM IS SLAVERY

IGNORANCE IS STRENGTH

I didn’t quite understand it when I read it first but as the story unravelled, the meaning of these menacing words became clearer. The amount of times that chills ran down my back while reading 1984, is amazing. Written almost 65 years ago, Orwell managed to predict the future and already I’m afraid.

The world has been divided into three super-states known as Oceania, Eurasia and Eastasia who are eternally at war with each other. The book is set in Oceania where we follow the life of Winston Smith. Orwell creates a new language in this book called ‘Newspeak’ where instead of enriching the vocabulary the authorities want to reduce the language to as little as possible to stop people from committing ‘thought crime’. The population is watched over by the use of telescreens – two-way televisions that monitor you while you are awake or asleep to ensure you aren’t doing anything that goes against the ‘Party’ or ‘Big Brother’.

And if you do: well, throughout the book Winston hints at what happens to such a rebel. They are turned into, according to Newspeak, Unpersons. They never existed. Wiped off from records, memory, everywhere. That person is then taken to the Ministry of Peace – one of the four Ministries that govern Oceania – and tortured, at the end of which he/she becomes a true slave of the Party, willingly. Room 101 is also mentioned quite a few times which makes you remember a certain Doctor Who episode. You are told what to think, what to remember and what to know by the Party and not many dare do otherwise. Everyone is suspicious, children are told to rat out their parents if suspected of wrong-doing and the concept of a ‘friend’ doesn’t exist.

Then there’s a twist to the story when Winston falls in love with Julia. The problem here is that in this ugly version of future created by an ingenious author you are not allowed to love, or have sex except to create mini-slaves for the Party a.k.a children, and therefore Winston and Julia find themselves secretly seeing each other, waiting for the moment when they are caught. And so, even though I knew what was coming as I reached the end of this book, it was still shocking when I read the last few words.

My favourite Winston-quote from the book – “How do we know that two and two make four? Or that the force of gravity works? Or that the past is unchangeable? If both the past and the external worlds exist only in the mind and if the mind itself is controllable, what then?”

I’m currently afraid of having my iPhone on me 24/7 – they resemble telescreens too much.

“Big Brother is watching you.”

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5 thoughts on “1984 by George Orwell”

  1. 1984 isn’t really all that realistic. For one thing, think of all the man power it would take for the government to watch everyone. Yes, they can record our conversations, but they cannot watch us 24/7. It wouldn’t make any sense for the government to do so even if they could. Most people are not going to do anything to merit watching. Don’t worry about your iphone, the only person listening is the person you’re talking to. And do you really think it would be worth while for the government to be at war constantly? Do you think that it would make any sense for the government to cease all production in favor of producing for a war only? It would be just as harmful for the people in power as it would be for us. Not to mention the fact that people aren’t really as gullible as Orwell suggested. I doubt that the people who are re-writing history would really so readily accept what the party is telling them. I doubt that such a government would last very long.

  2. Great post, such a classic and timeless read. I believe the original title was supposed to be “The Last Man”, which I feel would have been much more fitting. It feels like we have been in Orwell’s 1984 for some time now and are slowly transitioning into Huxley’s Brave New World which is a great book to read after. Full of spooky stuff indeed but no need to worry, there is hope and it lies in the proles. :)

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