Essay, Research Paper: Nineteen Eighty Four

Literature: George Orwell

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A Grim Prediction of the Future Nineteen Eighty-Four was written between the
years of 1945 and 1948. Orwell got the title from switching the last two numbers
of the publication date. In Orwell`s criticism of a perfect society, his book
became known as one of the greatest anti-utopian novels of all time. The book`s
message is so powerful that some say it went so far as to prevent the sinister
future from realizing itself. Althought the book starts out as the story of a
neurotic, paranoid man, it quickly turns into a protest against a quasi-utopian
society and a totalitarian government. The book appears to be a satire at the
start, similar to books such as Gulliver`s Travels¨, or Huxley`s Brave New
World¨, but all too quickly the reader will ¡§discover, quite unpleasantly,
that it is not a satire at all.¨ Nineteen Eighty-four is not simply a criticism
of what Orwell saw happening in his national government with the coming of
English Socialism, but a warning of the consequences of contemporary
governmental practices, and what they where threatening to bring about. Perhaps
the book seems so bleak because the events in the book are a somewhat logical
projection from current conditions and historical environment that Orwell
observed in 1948. Perhaps people would be more comftorble with the book if they
could rule out in their minds the possibility of the profecy becoming a reality.
In a critique of his own work, Orwell called Nineteen Eighty-Four A work of a
future terrible [sic] because it rests on a fiction and can not be substantiated
by reality or truth. But perhaps this future is realizing itself more than
Orwell thought it would. Orwell, more than likely, would have made note of, but
wouldn`t be astonished by, the fact that in 1983 the average American household
spent over 7 hours in front of the television every night. The number is even
greater for those households which currently subscribe to a cable service. Those
families watch television for more that 58 hours a week. That is more that 2
days straight without sleeping, eating, or going to the bathroom. He also wouldn`t
have passed by this magazine advertisement that could be seen in 1984: Is Big
Brother watching? If you are tired of Government, tired of big business, tired
of everyone telling you who you are and what you should be, then now is the time
to speak out. Display your disgust and exhibit your independence, Wear a ¡§Big
Brother Is Watching¨ tee-shirt. $10, Canadians remit us dollars. Big Brother is
Watching LTD. Neenah, WI. This advertisement makes one wonder if there is really
a group dedicated to the rise to power of someone called ¡§Big Brother¡¨. No
true reader could ever pass off Winstons experience with indifference. You have
to have some kind of sympathy for a man, even if fictional, who can not remember
his childhood, or for that matter, even his mother. That is certain to strike a
nerve with almost anyone. In addition to this constant pain of loss, the reader
will also have to vicariously live through lengthy episodes of of other
psychological pains, and physical pain. The reader will also be forced to endure
the pains of society as ¡§The Party¡¨ turns children against parents,
friends against friends, and although ther reader will discover the beauty of a
love between a man and a woman, ¡§The Party¡¨ will eventually destroy that
too. While ¡§The Party¡¨ is an important theme, two other themes are far
more important. The first is the distruction of language. By eliminating more
and more words from people¡¦s vocabularies, ¡§The Party¡¨ eliminates the
ability of people to unite or conspire against the government. However, they are
also eliminating the possibility of conceiving original thought, which has
catastrophic effects. The ultimate goal of ¡§The Party¡¨ is to reduce the
language to only one word thereby eliminating any thought at all. The second
important theme is the elimination of the past. This is the main character,
Winston¡¦s, job in the ministry of truth, to make sure that ¡§The Party¡¨
always looks right about every decision it has made in the past. This quest for
total power by ¡§The Party¡¨ is an excellent dramatization of Lord Acton¡¦s
famous apothegm, ¡§power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts
absolutely.¡¨ ¡§The Party¡¨ seems like it won¡¦t stop until it controls
the minds of everyone under it¡¦s power, and has complete physical and
psychological surveillance on all people at all time. This is exemplified in the
fact that the government can look back at you through your television, or
telescreen as it is called in the book, and the governmet has set up telescreens
almost anywhere you can go. While they don¡¦t have telescreens in unpopulated
country sides, they have gone through the trouble to place hidden microphones
disgused as flowers in those areas. and while there are real no laws, the
thought police can spy on your thoughts at anytime, and can arrest and kill you
on a whim. This policy is mythical. It is not really used for punishment, but to
scare everyone else into being good citizens. No other work of this century has
inspired people with such love of liberty and hatred of tyranny. Humans have a
basic desire to be free and not controlled. Therefore, to Orwell as to the
Utopian reformers, the adoption of the governmental doctrine, socialism, was
less an economic decision and more a moral decision. Nineteen Eighty-Four is an
expression of Mr. Orwell¡¦s irritation at many of the facets of English
socialism. It is also an expression of his moral and intellectual indignation at
the concept of totalitarianism, where a country is ruled utterly and completely
by a group of few. Another critic says that the book is not a criticism of
English socialism at all, but a warning of the consequences of the contemporoary
political paths we are following, or were at the time the book was written. The
bombs in Nineteen Eighty-Four symbolize Orwell¡¦s pent up rage about
everything in the political world from the disasterous state of unemployment of
the 1930¡¦s, to the ignorance of the leftist intelligensia, stupidly justifing
Stalinism. Some literary critics have attributed the book¡¦s extreme grimness
to Orwell¡¦s declining Health, and surmise that his pessimistic views
illustrate his collapsing spirit. Whatever his inspiration or motivation, almost
fifty years after its first publication, Nineteen Eighty-Four remains one of the
great novels of this century.
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