The George Orwell’s 1984
George Orwell’s 1984, is a dark and powerful novel that explains the horrors of a totalitarian government ruled by a “brain in a bottle (Huber)” or Big Brother. The intensity of Orwell’s work can be best categorized as beauty within carnage. This dystopian society is run by fear and technology that is so advanced for the people that they have little to no idea what is actually happening outside of their mindless, daily activities. Each of the social issues in the book can be understood in many different societies, such as Putin’s Russia, Kim Jong Un’s South Korea, and in Trump’s America. In each country, there is socialism; there is chaos; there is hatred. Throughout this, there will be a discussion over how a totalitarian government destroys itself and how it affects its people.
Eric Arthur Blair uses the pseudonym George Orwell as a way to give himself a new identity, or rather a different way to give an opinion to the world. For example, Nora Roberts is usually known as a romance author, but her alter-ego is J.D. Robb; a murder mystery novelist. Orwell is a man that was able to look into the future and see the troubles of the world at any point in time. “We have been using him, since his death, as the ground for general argument… (Bloom)” as a way to explain many different ideas and theories from his work. Many authors have dismissed him and his work as a “petty bourgeois (Bloom)” or unworthy of their literary merit. George Orwell had many “strong opinions who addressed [several] of the major political movements of his times, including imperialism, fascism, and communism (Biography.com)” but with that, he also made sure that all of his opinions were structured yet demanding of attention.
Orwell’s major issue, besides his contraction of tuberculosis, was that “he [was] often nearer to the truth than [the] more left-wing writers. (Bloom)” He looked at the real-world evidence and made inferences about the unknown. He paid attention to feeling and human emotions, rather than just the tangible feeling of his audiences. He also had the ability to use his love as a comparison to Winston and Julia. He “married Eileen O’Shaughnessy, June 9, 1936 [and after her passing he] married Sonia Brownell. (Trosky)” George loved these women with every fiber in his body, just like Winston towards Julia. They both saw their women as goddesses and would do almost anything for them. The best way of explaining a totalitarian government without giving an exact definition would have to be Putin’s Russia. Since Vladimir Putin has come into power, he has not taken a step to the future, but rather a hop back in time.
His ideologies have similar aspects to socialism and showing his citizens what terror is. In 1984, Winston Smith describes a massive poster of Big Brother as “an enormous face, more than a meter wide: the face of a man of about forty-five, with a heavy black mustache and ruggedly handsome features. (Orwell)”. Ironically, Putin has posters of him across Moscow but protesters are shaming him for his hatred of the LGBT community. In his poster, he is depicted as a drag queen with massive eyelashes and his cheeks are rouged with pink blush. Supposedly, if you are caught gazing upon it, you will be sent to prison almost immediately. The government in Oceania will send you to jail for something very similar; thoughtcrime. A simple definition of the word mentioned is best described is that it is a crime to have thought other than what the Party finds acceptable. When a thoughtcrime has been committed, you are essentially erased from the world as you know it. Every day we commit a thoughtcrime, big or small.
That is what we as free-minded human beings do; we have thoughts that might contradict each other-doublethink-but even as a person sleeps, there are thoughts being released into the mind. A thought is a seed in the mind and if planted it will eventually grow inside, but without proper care, there shall be impending chaos. The poor fool thatallows a thought to be voiced or even speculated will regret being born. The Party is what every citizen should work for, live for, die for. Another example is how the government in 1984 is chaotic and terrifying to its people can be compared to North Korea in the past few years. Kim Jong Un took over the nation after his father passed. Even under his father’s reign, there was still the same socialist ideals in place. The Kim empire has made it so every citizen has little to no rights and therefore less than human; much like in 1984. For the Outer Party or for the Proles there is not much to consume.
Food and supplies are being rationed, but it seems that every day there is a different portion of the community. Outer Party members have some form of money, for instance, Winston is only given a set amount of coupons. When he saves enough to get a razor blade for shaving, the shops are sold out, supposedly. No matter what the day brings, it will always different from the day before, the month before. And the people have to either go forward, no questions asked, or be vaporized for a doublethink. The chaos will go on forever. No one can stop Big Brother. The ‘brain in the bottle (Huber)’ will rule Oceania for hundreds and thousands of years. The phrase “If there is hope… it lies in the proles (Orwell)” is used several times in the novel but is there any? Proles, or the proletarians, are the lowest of the low in this society. They are the uneducated, the unclean, and the uncared. The nation of Oceania is best described as a utopian society gone wrong. Ideally, every citizen should be treated equally, but it does not matter what the time period because history will always come full circle.
By looking through any world history textbooks, it is clear that in every civilization known up to this point there is massive use of the caste system. By definition, the caste system is the grouping of individuals by their income and or their political influences. “The Inner Party makes up only two percent of the population; the Outer Party, the next thirteen percent. The remainder, some eighty-five percent of the population, are the Proles, the oppressed masses. (Rollyson)” Winston and Julia are both part of the Outer Party- the working or middle class- and O’Brien is part of the Inner party; the privileged. The only difference between Julia and Winston and O’Brien is how they were selected by The Party. In a single family unit, two adults and two children, the father may be an Inner Party member but when the older child becomes of working age, they might become a Prole. There is no real way of life in Oceania as a member of the outer party.
You go to work, you eat the same unfortunate food and awful tasting Victory Gin, and you go home. Everything is the same, day in and day out. If you make one wrong move or say the wrong thing about a telescreen, you are certain to be vaporized in a matter of minutes. If a Party member chooses to get married and have children, they should be pitied more than a Prole. When a child becomes a certain age they join the Spies, the equivalent of Boy Scouts. These young minds are taught at a young age that Big Brother is the way of life and if you stray from the path there is a punishment. Children have impressionable minds and they will do almost anything they are told. As Spies they are taught to find the flaws in their own flesh and blood; they can see if their parents are committing a thoughtcrime. In a real-world situation, one would think about protecting their loved ones. But the children in Oceania would love to watch their parents be burned at the stake for a simple mistake in their movement or in their speech.
They will stop at nothing because they worship Big Brother. Big Brother is a massive being that no one has seen before; not even Inner Party Members. The society that “he” created is ruled by fear and total destruction. Changes happen on a daily basis; history is altered at the drop of a hat and people accept that. One day Oceania is fighting with Eurasia and the next with East Asia. Some will question it and the answer will that Oceania has been fighting with East Asia for years. For example, if a newspaper says that a massive car crash that killed at least twenty happened on a Tuesday but it was an inopportune moment, workers in the Ministry of Truth would change it to Wednesday. No one would ever think about it because that is what they have been told to do for years, or is it? Nothing is consistent in this society except for following the laws in place by the Party and living in a dismal rut.
Technology has a major role in 1984, specifically the telescreens. A modern-day example of the telescreen can be best be described as 24/7 Facetime or Skype call. There is always someone watching the people of Oceania at any time of the day. In some areas there may not be a telescreen watching you, there may be a microphone listening to any mumble you may have. The thought that is inside the mind is the only thing you have in this society. You are not able to write them down, not able to speak to co-workers, not to your family. Telescreens are the way of forcing propaganda and useless information into the mind. The views of the Party are slowly killing the people of the society, therefore destroying their world. “[He] despised machines of every kind, but he despised the machines of telecommunications the most. (Huber)” Orwell saw the new form of technology as a plague to humanity; it is essentially destroying the minds of the people. Even in his lifetime modernizations, the simplest form of technology was enough to give off an obsession. Televisions and newspapers and magazines were a major way for people to get their knowledge of the world.
World War II was going on at the time when Orwell was writing 1984; a major influence in his work and so people were trying to know what was going on at any time of the day. Wives were worried about their husbands and sons, hoping they would not get the dreaded telegram about who had died or who went M.I.A. Some critics have felt that “with [these] advancements in technology we have begun to fall down the same Orwellian spiral… (Bartleby)” and will end up as mindless individuals, tied to the rhythm of the world. Having faith in the Proles is something that we need to have in the real world; 2018 and years after. Our governments are slowly making us go insane and making it so that we no longer have faith our leaders. At this point, all we have is our minds and the clothes on our back. President Trump, Vladimir Putin, and Kim Jong Un have the money and military forces to destroy a city in any part of the world. Why? They can and will wipe out an entire family just to exercise their powers. These men are the social tyrants that we no longer need in this world. Older generations say that when we lose our trust in the government, then we will see salvation.
This salvation could be many things; a smaller government, individual city-states, etc. The only way we can get through these trying times, including the troubles presented in 1984, is by rising up. If the people, the Proles, take a stand then we will forever be at peace. Peace between brothers, between cities, between countries. In conclusion, 1984 by George Orwell is a novel of great importance to any society in the past, present, and in the future. Orwell was able to prophesize ideas and so many technical aspects that were at least fifty years ahead of his lifetime. Without this piece of literature, the world would not be able to be seen properly. We must take what has been written by Orwell inside ourselves and embrace our freedom. 1984 is a stunning depiction of a society that we will hopefully not see in our respective lives. The terror that has been given will make generations to come realize that they can change the world. They are the Proles we must have faith in.
January 28, 2023