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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7 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. :)

    1. Rebellion in 1984
      By:Avery Harrietha

      Avery Harrietha
      ENG 3U
      Mr. Reimer
      16/05/17

      “The only way to deal with an unfree world is to become so absolutely free that your very existence is an act of rebellion.” (Albert Camus) The characters in 1984 by George Orwell live in such a controlled society that simply living there day to day life is considered rebellion. In the novel 1984 a public figure named Big Brother watches over everything people do. Normal things like writing in a journal would be considered a thought crime and someone would be punished for it. Winston attempts to rebel against the Party by expressing his thought in a jornal away from the telescreen in his house. As well, Julia and Winston have begin to become intimate with each other, both hoping to break the rules from the Ministry of Love. Also, Winston buys items from the past in hopes to find what the Party has altered in an act of rebellion. In 1984 by George Orwell Rebellion is an act the main characters repetitively strive for but never achieve through forms like Winston writing in a journal, having secret love affairs, and purchasing items from the past.

      Winston Smith in 1984 attempts an act of rebellion by expressing his thoughts in a journal. Continuing, Winston specifically has a space in his house where he sits to right in his journal. After working a long day in the Ministry of Truth, Winston enters his living room and,
      For some reason the telescreen in the living-room was in an unusual position. Instead of being placed, as was normal, in the end wall, where it could command the whole room, it was in the longer wall, opposite the window. To one side of it there was a shallow alcove in which Winston was now sitting, and which, when the flats were built, had probably been intended to hold bookshelves. By sitting in the alcove, and keeping well back, Winston was able to remain outside the range of the telescreen, so far as sight went. He could be heard, of course, but so long as he stayed in his present position he could not be seen. It was partly the unusual geography of the room that had suggested to him the thing that he was now about to do. (7).

      Winston Smith has a designated place in his house where he can secretly rebel against the Party since “in his present position he could not be seen”. Expressing your own thoughts was found as going against the Party in Oceania, yet Winston still longed for the success of rebellion so he still tried to do what he could. In the end even though Winston “remain outside the range of the telescreen”, he still got caught by the thought police. Winston never achieved the success of rebellion by writing his thoughts in his journal. As well, Winston outlines the punishments that he could face if he gets caught with his diary with the Thought Police. Winston wanted a way to go against the Party and the “The thing that he was about to do was to open a diary. This was not illegal (nothing was illegal, since there were no longer any laws), but if detected it was reasonably certain that it would be punished by death, or at least by twenty five years in forced-labour camp.” (8) . His diary that Winston kept was a way for him to secretly rebel, Winston knew the consequences that could happen if he got caught, but he took his chances. During the novel Winston does get caught and instead of being “punished by death” or “forced labour camp”, he went through many trials of torture. Winston’s act of expressing his thoughts in the journal never became successful because in the end the Party won, and caught him. Concluding, Winston knowing about the punishments of his actions did not prevent him from doing his secretive actions in hopes to succeed in rebellion.

      Correspondingly, Winston and Julia in 1984 by George Orwell, attempt to rebel against the Party by having a secret love affair. Winston has always longed to be loved but in Oceania it was against the rules to be with another person. Anything sexual was seen as a thought crime “And what he wanted, more even than to be loved, was to break down that wall of virtue, even if it were only once in his whole life. The sexual act, successfully performed, was rebellion. Desire was thoughtcrime.” (16). Winston craved any sort of rebellion that he could get and he also just wanted “to be loved”. To be loved or especially “The sexual act, successfully performed, was rebellion.”. Eventually Winston and Julia had sexual affairs, and Winston thought he was rebelling against the Party even though in the end Big Brother caught them and punished them for “thoughtcrime”. In addition, Julia expresses her thoughts on sexual intercourse to Winston and shares her point of view. Julia believes that if you partake in sexual activities then people would be less interested in the Party
      The way she put it was: “When you make love you’re using up energy; and afterwards you feel happy and don’t give a damn for anything. They can’t bear you to feel like that. They want you to be bursting with energy all the time. All this marching up and down and cheering and waving flags is simply sex gone sour. If you’re happy inside yourself, why should you get excited about Big Brother and the Three-Year Plans and the Two Minutes Hate and all the rest of their bloody rot? (257)

      Julia thinks that if “you’re happy inside yourself” then things like “Big Brother” and “Two Minutes Hate” will not excite people anymore. In Julia’s thoughts she believes this is possible through having sexual intercourse. Julia promotes these actions as an act of her rebellion even though the Thought Police will later catch onto her and Julia will get punished. Further developing her self centered character, Julia longs for rebellion just as much as Winston does. Given these points, through sexual relations between Winston and Julia both dream of rebellion but fail in many attempts.

      Furthermore, Winston Smith in 1984 by George Orwell, commits small acts of rebellion, unknowingly falling, like going into shops and buying items from the past. Winston goes into the prole district and buys items like paperweights and journals, in an attempt to personally rebel against Big Brother. Winston clearly knew that he was not supposed to go into shops yet he still did,
      Party members were supposed not to go into ordinary shops (“dealing on the free market,” it was called), but the rule was not strictly kept, because there were various things, such as shoelaces and razor blades, which it was impossible to get hold of in any other way. He had given a quick glance up and down the street and then had slipped inside and bought the book for two dollars fifty. At the time he was not conscious of wanting it for any particular purpose. He had carried it guiltily home in his briefcase. Even with nothing written in it, it was a compromising possession. (13).

      Winston did this without “any particular purpose” proving he just wants to do something that is against the rules for no reason. Winston buying “the book for two dollars fifty” did not benefit him anyway but him having self pride that he rebelled against the party. His actions came back to hurt him in the future when the patrols found all the items that Winston illegally bought from every shop. Likewise, Winston has a coral paperweight that he bought, which he believes connects him to rebellion. Winston rebels as he believes, “The paperweight was the room he was in, and the coral was Julia’s life and his own, fixed in a sort of eternity at the heart of the crystal.”(289). Winston buying the paperweight alone was a crime itself but the message behind the paperweight is a more important thoughtcrime that Winston would describe as rebellion. Having the coral represent Julia and Winston’s life in a “eternity at the heart of the crystal” is a representation on how they are living their lives. Winston and Julia are trapped in the Brotherhood , just like how the piece of coral is trapped in the glass of the paperweight. Later in the book when the paperweight smashes on the floor it signifies how their attempts of rebellion are useless and the Party will always win. All things considered, Winston unsuccessfully rebels against Big brother when he buys items from the past, and when he fixates on his life inside the coral paperweight.

      In 1984 by George Orwell rebellion is an act the main characters repetitively strive for but never achieve through forms like Winston writing in a journal, having secret love affairs, and purchasing items from the past. Winston commits thoughtcrime while writing in his house away from his telescreen. Aswell, Julia and Winston have a secret love affair in which they get caught for in attempt of rebellion. Lastly, Winston buys non-altered items from shops in hopes to figure out what they have changed which is considered rebellion and thoughtcrime in Oceania. Overall in 1984 by George Orwell, the characters constantly long for rebellion but never achieve proving the pointlessness of attempting it.

      Work Cited

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nineteen_Eighty-Four
      http://www.sparknotes.com/lit/1984

  3. This good was crazy to read. I totally believe that George Orwell predicted the future of society. He wrote this for a future probably close to his time but this can so still be true today in 2017. Im young and finding my place in this crazy world. Where I stand and this book scares me a little. Our government is a scary thing and I don’t want to be around when our society turns into one similar to the one in the book. Which it will at some point. All the rules they had were crazy, like not being allowed to write in a journal. That was Winston’s first rebel move. Some countries actually have insane rules like this. I believe that with our current president we will get to Orwell’s prediction much sooner then ever before. We are already getting there with all our advanced technology. I don’t doubt that the government is watching us through our phones because we are on them 24/7. This book is amazingly written. I enjoy the third person limited point of view. It makes it more suspenseful and at the edge of my seat. We only knew what Winston knew so if there were questions we were wondering and he didn’t find them out we would never find them out. Like Julia for instance, when they got caught they were separated and Winston ever found out what happen to her. Was she working for the Party to catch Winston? Was she a spy? Or who’s she said she was and what Winston thought she was? There was so many things to keep track of and learn. It was an interesting position too because Winston was not just some prole but he was in the loop a little. Being one of the people who changed the past. Thats scary to this that whoever controls the future controls the past. I totally believe that information/news has been twisted in our brains.

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