Tag Archives: George Orwell

1984 by George Orwell

1984 as a Dystopian novel:

The novel, 1984, was written by George Orwell in 1948, and was set to be in the future. It is a typical Orwellian novel, which depicts the tale of a Dystopia, in which a hierarchical system known as ‘Big Brother’ and The Party, repress and control everyone in complete despotism. What is truly the most oppressive thing that Big Brother do in particular to citizens, is enforce complete control over people’s thoughts and privacy, having cameras and microphones placed every where, and punishing anyone who dares to think differently and anyone who dares to question Big Brother and The Party. 1984, is a great allegory, with a very noticeable underlying message, that was very prominent at the time it was written, just after World War 2. The protagonist of the story is Winston Smith, a 39 year old, average man, who after meeting his love, (the other protagonist of the story) Julia, begins to develop his own thoughts, and who begins, with Julia, to rebel against Big Brother and The Party, until being caught and broken by O’Brian. The main antagonist of the story, besides Big Brother and The Party, is O’Brian, who works for Big Brother in the Ministry of Love, and who is a member of the inner party. He is the one who after learning of Winston and Julia’s rebellion, sets a trap for them over the course of seven years, and who is ultimately the one who breaks both Winston and Julia. The story is based in the Oceania, which is one of three super-continents that span the entire world, the other two super-continents are called Eurasia, and Eastasia. Oceania is controlled by Big Brother and The Party, and is a completely totalitarian run state.

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George Orwell:

The novel 1984, was written by George Orwell who wrote the novel in 1948, 2 years before his death. He was born on the 25th of June 1903, and died on the 21st of January 1950. George Orwell, was originally called Eric Arthur Blair, but changed his name to George Orwell in 1933. George Orwell was educated at St Cyprian’s School from 1911-1917, after then he was briefly educated at Wellington College in 1917 and was educated at Eton College after, from 1917-1921. George Orwell is considered perhaps to be the 20th century’s chronicler of English culture, his best and most famous novels are 1984, Animal Farm, Homage to Catalonia, and an account he made of his experiences in the Spanish Civil War. George Orwell got the inspiration for writing 1984, from his own experiences with the BBC and his wife’s experiences from working inside the censorship department during WW2, where there was an inane level of censorship, and ever changing rules on what was not deemed appropriate for the public. George Orwell used his and his wife’s experiences with the BBC to at least partially, inspire him to write 1984, in which we see that the main idea in 1984 is that once civil liberties are taken that all governments quickly become totalitarian states, that are unlikely to give back peoples civil liberties after they have been taken, even if their liberties were taken for altruistic. I think that George Orwell was a great writer, who created many great novels, and is one of my favourite authors.

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World War 2 Propaganda:

There were many different types of propaganda created in World War 2, to promote many different ideologies, there were two main types of propaganda created in World War 2 in my point of view, communist propaganda that was produced primarily by the Russians, the Chinese and to an extent the Germans, and capitalist propaganda that was produced primarily by the Americans, British etc. The communist parties, particularly that of the Russians during World War 2 used their propaganda to promote the ideologies they wanted and to better their image in the eyes of the public. The Russians had over 70,000 people working full time to promote the ideologies the Party wanted, and to make clear the message that any action taken against the ‘Party Line’ would be severely punished. They also spent much time editing and eliminating any ‘undesirable printed materials’ that could have a negative impact on the party and The Party’s image. The capitalist parties, particularly that of the Americans during World War 2 was used to increase support for the war and commitment to an Allied victory, calling on the patriotism of the public to join up and do their bit. The Americans used a large variety of different medias in their propaganda to not only increase public hatred of the enemy, but also to support America’s allies, increase public efforts in war production and to increase the sales of war bonds, which were basically voluntary loans. The most popular and wide spread type of media used in American propaganda were pictures which they used in posters, but comic books and videos which they played before movies in cinemas were also a very popular type media that they used in their propaganda.

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Communism:

The definition of communism given by Wikipedia is that: ‘Communism is a revolutionary socialist movement to create a classless, moneyless, stateless social order structured upon common ownership of the means of production, as well as a social, political, and economical ideology that aims at the establishment of this social order.’ This basically means that communists are people who believe in and want to bring about a society of total equality, where no one person or group of people are more or less powerful or rich than anyone else. What is very commonly or should I say was very commonly associated with communism, was Marxism-Leninism. Wikipedia’s definition is that: ‘Marxism-Leninism, is a communist ideology, officially based upon the theories of Karl Marx, Friedrich Engels and Vladimir Lenin, that’s promotes the development and creation of international communist society through the leadership of a vanguard party was presiding over revolutionary socialist state that represents the dictatorship of the proletariat.’ This basically means that Marxism-Leninism is the communist idea of forming an international communist party lead by a political party at the forefront of a political revolution, who represent the autocratic social or working class. Communism has been fairly widespread throughout the world, and many countries have decided to become communist, though few countries remain communist permanently. Here are a list of some of the more famous countries who either are or have been communist, Russia with the Communist Party of the Soviet Union or CPSU, China with the People’s Republic of China, Cuba with Fidel Castro and Vietnam with the Communist Party of Vietnam or CPV.

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Analysis of introductory page:

There are two main themes that come out of the first page, firstly the character and protagonist, Winston Smith, who we see entering a pitiful, dirty, shabby, meagre building, to escape an even more depressing and foul weather. We are also told that Winston has a varicose ulcer above his right ankle, that gives him pain and causes him to make stops when climbing up the stairs, this further drives the idea of quite a poor society, by implying that he might not be rich enough to get it treated.

Dystopian Themes:

Environment/Landscape-

George Orwell uses a variety of different writing techniques, to portray to the reader the image that he wants, the image of dystopia. To begin with, he goes into great depth, and detail, describing the physical landscape, and how it is:

  • Dull,
  • Bleak,
  • Controlled,
  • Oppressing,
  • Repressing,
  • Depressing,
  • Sad,
  • Stark.

He also uses his characters, to describe the environment around them, through which they live, move and are surveilled, an example being when Winston arrives at his home in the first paragraph, where it is described to the reader as being an ill-functioning, dilapidated structure, which is fully under the control of The Party, and where there is no privacy, from Big Brother. “Victory mansions … old flats built in the 1930s … falling to pieces,” also is itself half a juxtapose, between the surviving structure from a pre-revolutionary period and the gigantic momentous structures of the State bureaucracies. Later on the reader learns that it is set in Airstrip 1, the capital of Oceania, and how there are 4 ministries, who keep order, and how they even control the thinking of the people, creating an even more oppressive environment, and how they lived in a society where the leading faction, The Party, had complete control, yet Winston and Julia still manage to rebel. This book is in many ways the story of man, as it is testament to both mankind’s savage treatment of each other and thirst for power, yet also its hope and unrelenting conviction to improve the environment around them and to help others. George Orwell also shows a direct contrast of reality between Winston’s dreams of a “Golden Country,” in which everyone is free, and which represents the hopes of mankind, and the reality of the world he lives in, in which everyone is controlled, ‘free-thought’ doesn’t exist, and there is no hope for mankind to be ever be rid of this oppression, especially not now that it has been allowed to grow so large.

Language/Style-

George Orwell uses a variety of different linguistic techniques to promote the ideologies and allegories he wants, whilst still making the reader think for themselves and create their own opinions about the events that occur and the way things are run in 1984. George Orwell has always been renowned, for his use of simple language, always being known for hating ‘literal snobbery,’ and this is a factor that becomes very evident in 1984, as whilst being ever so descriptive and thought provoking, it is written with fairly standard vocabulary, which of course enables it to be read by a much larger audience. He is also able through his much more limited range of vocabulary, to create much more of an impact on the audience, and allows him to approach an event or ideology in the story much more directly, without having to use advanced or complex vocabulary, which would do nothing more than over complicate what he wants to say. Orwell also uses lots of sordid adjectives, to describe Big Brother and the Party more effectively, examples of some of the sordid adjectives used in 1984 include:

  • Extremely dirty,
  • Morally corrupt,
  • Cumbersome.

He also uses fairly violent verbs, which is much more impactful on the reader, and allows him to say straight out what is happening, and voice his own opinions on the matter, depending on how strong and violent the verb he uses is. His use of stronger, more violent verbs also results in ultimately, a stronger emotional, moral and ethical reaction from the reader, and being much more thought provoking. His use of imagery, an example being, ” the fragile glass paperweight symbolising the shattering of Winston’s privacy and freedom,” really adds to the story, and creates a much more visual image of what is going on and the injustices that are occurring, from which the reader can decide upon how they feel about it, instead of just listening to a narration of an event, he gives the reader the tools for them to sculpt the scene for themselves, and come to their own conclusions about what is going on and what they think.

Narrative structure – George Orwell uses ‘free indirect discourse’ throughout his narrative structure, which basically means that he uses a certain style of third-person narration, using some third-person characteristics, along with the essence of first-person direct speech, this enables a unique effect and impact on the reader, as they experience both third and first person narratives, they receive a far more in-depth depiction of the events and the feelings of the characters as they are happening. George Orwell also uses the common narrative structure of a beginning, a middle and an end being told in chronological order, which makes in much easier to follow, enabling it to be read, again, by a wider audience, and which makes better the flow of the story, as he does not have to go from present to past to future.

Newspeak – George Orwell’s Newspeak is an extreme political, new, language, which facilitates deception and manipulation, and its purpose is to restrict the people’s understanding of the real world and inhibit their ability for free thought. I think that George Orwell’s main intention for creating ‘Newspeak,’ was to show to the reader how the repeated abuse of language by the government and by the media could be used to deceive and manipulate people, which could ultimately lead to a society in which the people unquestioningly obey their government and mindlessly accept all propaganda as reality. I think that he also intended to show to the reader how language, when used in such a way, by such a party, can become a mind-control tool as well, which is a very relevant concept in 1984, the ministry of thought being an example of that, of how the ultimate goal of using language, for The Party, is to dictate to people what to think, leading to the destruction of free will, imagination, opinion, emotion and free thought. In fact, George Orwell is known to have written in an essay before, that “if thought corrupts language, language can also corrupt thought,” which is such a prominent example of Orwell’s views on the matter, and how language can be used as a form of mind control. Newspeak, limits the amount of words used, deeming words like ‘bad’ unnecessary, because they are the opposite of good, which limits the awareness and knowledge of those who use it, making them more likely to comply, and more likely to do what they are told.

Characterisation-

In 1984, there are two protagonists of the story, the main one being Winston Smith, a 39 year old average man, who after meeting his love, Julia, begins to develop his own thoughts, and who begins, with Julia, to rebel against Big Brother and The Party, until being caught and broken by O’Brian. The other protagonist is Julia, a 26 year old average woman, who works for the Ministry of Truth, until she falls in love with Winston, and with him begins to rebel against Big Brother and The Party, until being caught and broken by O’Brian. The main antagonist of the story, besides Big Brother and The Party, is O’Brian, who works for Big Brother in the Ministry of Love, and who is a member of the inner party, and who after learning of Winston and Julia’s rebellion, sets a trap for them over the course of seven years, and who is ultimately the one who breaks both Winston and Julia. Of course Big Brother is itself the main antagonist of the story, and whilst not being any one person, is responsible for all the hardships the protagonists had to face. Big Brother, which controls Oceania, is made up of three main parties, the Inner Party, which makes up 2% of Oceania’s population, and is a sort of upper class, which O’Brian is a member of, and which regulates “Ingsoc,” and the Thought Police, and which closely supervise all Outer Party members. The Outer Party, which makes up 13% of Oceania’s population, and is a sort of middle class, which Winston and most other characters are members of. Then there is the “Proles,” which make up 85% of Oceania’s population, and is a sort of lower class, in which people receive little education, do manual labour and live in general poverty.

Oppression-

In 1984, there is a lot of oppression, this is because it is a powerful tool, which is used by the party to maintain complete control over the citizens of Oceania and to maintain its totalitarian power over the state. In 1984, Winston creates his “secret diary”, which whilst being his main way of rebellion against Big Brother and the party, is still completely oppressed in the sense that it can never discovered or read by anyone, so to a certain extent can never exist. In the diary, Winston writes his thoughts about Big Brother, the party, the Proles, freedom, and oppression, in fact, the first page consists mainly of one repeated line,’Down with Big Brother‘, which he writes subconsciously, and which is what Mr. Parsons, his neighbour, is arrested for saying in his sleep, later in the novel. Winston writes his diary  for a number of reasons such as rebellion, but also writes it for a number of different people, he writes it for the people of the past, the people of the future, but primarily for O’Brian, believing that they share the same beliefs about Big Brother and the Party, which is ironic when it is O’Brian who is the one who captures, tortures and breaks Winston. The party oppresses the citizens of Oceania in a variety of different ways, a key one being the two minute hate and Hate week, in which the party work the citizens into a frenzy of hate aimed at whichever superstate they are at war with at the time, either Eurasia or Eastasia, and at Emmanuel Goldstein, a former inner party member who turned against the party, and who directs terrorist actions against the party, they also during the hate show pictures of Big Brother to further increase their love of him and to further oppress them. In addition to these forms of propaganda, they als use slogans and various uniforms to oppress people, some of which are also incorporated in hate week, an example being the red sashes that were worn by members of the Junior Anti-Sex League, like Julia. The party slogans themselves, such as ‘war is peace‘, are also designed to inspire fear and to oppress the citizens, this example meaning that perpetual war of no geographical or power change between the sides, is the same as perpetual peace, as in both cases the same thing occurs, the only difference being, that war allows the party to waste more of what is being produced, which in turn keeps the citizens in total poverty and squalor. Out of all of the party’s ways of oppression, the vast majority of it comes from the telescreens, the constantly watching, constantly listening eyes and ears of the party and the thought police, which invade every homes of every inner party and outer party members, and a few of the proles. It is through the telescreens that the party spread fear into everyone in their on homes, for they know that if they act out in any way, display anything on their faces, even say something in their sleep subconsciously, that they will be taken, tortured, killed and erased from existence. It is through the telescreens and the party’s reputation of punishment that the party are able to oppress everybody all at once continuously. They even have thought crime, to punish anyone who even thinks in a way that is against Big Brother and the party, an example of someone who committed thought crime and who was punished for it, is Winston’s neighbour, Mr Parsons, who committed thoughtcrime by murmuring subconsciously in his sleep ‘down with Big Brother‘. Finally there is the infamous room 101, the room that everyone knows what is inside, for inside room 101 is the greatest fear of the person who is being punished, in Winston’s case his greatest fear was rats, and it was in room 101, facing his greatest fear that the party’s oppression became overwhelming, it was in room 101, that they broke him, they made him denounce the one thing he had never denounced, throughout all of the weeks of his torture, his love of Julia, and it is in room 101, that they were able to change his mentality, where they were able to oppress him to such a degree that they made him into them, and where they ultimately made him believe everything they told him and taught him love Big Brother. As an final point, in Winston’s diary, he says that ‘freedom is the freedom to say that two plus two equals four‘, but after being exposed to the pure oppression of the party in all its different forms, he is made to believe that two plus two equals five, and that has always been regarded as, by me at least, the point at which Winston truly loses all his freedom, freedom of both his body, but also of his mind and later his soul.

Harry Hardaker