George Orwell’s book 1984 entails a story with the main character Winston Smith and his journey through him having a different thoughts and opinions in the society of Oceania in which he lives in. Orwell’s book was published a couple years after WWII in 1949 and he incorporates a lot of war subjects that actually happened during the time of war. Orwell dated the book 1984 to make the audience realize the book in the future and not in past events. Big Brother is the political figure similar to Uncle Sam in which this he is not a real person, but a symbol of power and the government. The government which is divided into three section called The inner party, The Outer Party, and the proles, and The Inner Party controls everything that the society does and if someone does not like the rules then they are tortured to the point of insanity. The title 1984 connects to the date where Winston writes in his diary as an estimate date he thinks it is. He commits a simple crime by writing this date just to try and get some evidence for the future societies to have an idea of the deranged world Winston lives in. While George Orwell strength in 1984 is when he describes life in the structure of a totalitatariansm and the challenges faced, however like every author his weakness lies with the sequence of events.
The characters in 1984 are very carefully and well described that paints a clear image into the minds of the readers. The protagonist is Winston Smith, a member of the Outer Party writer who works for the records department Ministry of Truth and responsible for altering messages to keep Big Brother at the top of the society. Winston Smith is a very smart character who opposes the Party of Oceania’s ideas and instead has his own on how to overthrow them. In the process he meets Julia, who is works for the fiction department in the same ministry as smith and she becomes a big part of his life. They both bring a very raw relationship to the book, where relationships are basically non-existent and if they are then they do not consist of true love. They run into many adventures and problems together. The antagonist O’Brien is a member of the inner party and he gets a big more insight and freedom than the outer party members. He is the one character who has always been a muse of Smith and he surprises the readers as they learn something dark about him. Winston’s neighbor Parsons has a wife and two kids. He is the most interesting character as he is proud that his children are part of the youth spies, even after they turned him in for a crime. This kind of thinking shows how the people of Oceania are manipulated into thinking that they are always right. The characters are important in order to introduce new ideas, although Orwell encompasses much strength in his book.
Orwell did a good job in proving that a totalitarian society can thrive when breaking the rules of freedom, war, and power. In the society of Oceania the people are in love with a figure named Big Brother and he is the number one ruler of everyone living in that time period. The society wants to kill anyone who opposes them and in the process Orwell described how the Party is “producing effects of drugs, shock therapy, hypnosis, and physical torture (Orwell 194) This makes on think about Hitler and how Nazi doctors “performed various types of experiments on these studies without the consent of the victims, who suffered indescribable pain, mutilation, permanent disability, or in many cases death as a result (Tyson par. 1).” It is as if Orwell is in fact describing the Nazi experiments when he describes what the party does to their opponents. Even the way that Big Brother is described seems to be in fact some sort of Hitler. Another important point made was the way that everything in Oceania is controlled and it is so similar to North Korea’s government. As described by a former North Korea refugee Hyeonseo Lee describes that “they are propagandized since birth, the people of North Korea know nothing of what life is like outside their own borders (Scism par. 4). Orwell proved his point that totalitarian could thrive as it does with North Korea, but also fail as it did with Nazi Germany. A personal experience that one can relate to is having a mindset like Winston in which one can rebel when it is not right in the mind and soul. The strengths in 1984 really give it the iconic recognition that it deserves; however weaknesses also lie in every great author.
The weaknesses that the reader comes upon are the sequence of events. In the beginning of the story Orwell set the mood up nicely and when he changed from chapter it was quite difficult to grasp the setting of some of the scenes in the book. Then towards the end as Winston becomes part of this brotherhood against the Party he receives a book called The Theory and practice of Oligarchical Collectivism that contained all of the dirty secrets that the Party hides. The book inside of a book was really difficult to understand because George started with the first chapter, then skipped to the third one, and then back to the second chapter. The reader can become quite lost in understanding why Orwell decided to incorporate this structure. George also incorporated an appendix that explains the principles of Newspeak, which is the language that everyone speaks in Oceania. He should have put this in the beginning because at the end the reader already knows everything and to put it at the end is unnecessary. If the reader were to read it multiple times it would make sense than if the reader read it once, since it has so many events and topics. The weaknesses are minor; therefore 1984 is a great book to read.
What if Orwell decided to change the protagonist to Julia, would that make a difference? The way Orwell wrote 1984 with power and the way the government controls the society is very interesting, yet scary to think since events like this have happened and are happening. Orwell wanted to give his audience a point of view that could make the reader appreciate in the society they live in. I would recommend this book for anyone who is looking for a political book and afterwards can watch the movie and compare it to that.
The book is great, but is intended for a mature audience as it has some graphic scenes and dark subjects that a younger audience may not be able to grasp. Orwell might be warning us that maybe Big Brother aka the government is watching us.
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