And the world has been plunged into an endless cycle of war, deprivation, constant surveillance, and the constant re-write of History.
Whenever I see my copy of 1984 by George Orwell on the coffee table I think, “Is it The Blueprint to World Domination?”
This is the first dystopian novel I’ve read in recent years (most likely my very first), and to be frank I wasn’t a big fan of it in the beginning. Orwell’s writing style needed some time to adjust to, specifically when I reached the in-depth explanations of how his world functions. His writing style is complex but nonetheless rich enough to help readers envision the dystopic universe and all that goes on in it.
“Nineteen Eighty-Four is George Orwell’s terrifying vision of a totalitarian future in which everything and everyone is a slave to a tyrannical Regime.”
It’s also brilliant.
Orwell has constructed a frightening alternate universe where the most realistic set up for world domination is achieved. Our protagonist, Winston, lives in world where he is constantly watched and is at risk of “vaporization” if he commits “thoughtcrime”. Even the English language is almost unrecognizable.
The leader of the regime, Big Brother, is more of a symbol than a living being. He is never physically present but the weight of his existence is expressed through the repetitive mentions and of the ominous posters…He is watching you. The concept of “Big Brother” has even managed to transcend into pop-culture. Familiar with he reality tv show Big Brother? A group of people live in a house and we all watch as they interact, do challenges, and eventually voted out. At least they get a prize in the end.
Below Big Brother is the Party, an organization powerful enough to break simple logic:
It only scratches the surface.
Focusing on Winston, he starts off with his strong beliefs against the party because of his vague memories of a once better life. The story progresses as he tries to find proof to help ignite a general consciousness among the lowest of the low, the proles, against the Party. Even before he abandons that plan he meets Julia and embarks on a rebellious relationship with her.
O’Brien is another interesting character. I consider him to be Winston’s beacon of hope. Winston obsesses and almost worships the man, and dwells in his baseless fantasy that O’Brien will help him in his pursuit against the Party.
“He felt deeply drawn to him, and not solely because he was intrigued by the contrast between O’Brien’s urbane manner and prizefighter’s physique. Much more it was because of it was a secretly-held belief -or perhaps not even a belief, merely a hope-that O’Brien’s political orthodoxy was not perfect. Something in his face suggested it irresistibly.”
Orwell has created a nightmare that is not so far-fetched. Perhaps that is why it shook me more than any dystopian manga. I know it is irrelevant for me to compare the two but it’s the closest example I have. Our protagonists usually saves the day and peace is restored. In 1984, the only thing that is restored is a peace of mind for the Party.
Lastly, based on the book, I can’t shake the feeling that George Orwell wasn’t very fond of women. The only positive image I can recall about a woman in his book was when Winston noticed the large lady hanging laundry.
When you have a hunch, google it.
The article counter-argues with the defense that sexism and racism found in old literature is a by-product of the author’s time which many seem to surrender to. It also features another side of Winston and Julia’s relationship and even pushes forward a connection between totalitarianism and sexism.
I’ll definitely read more dystopian fiction. Other popular ones are Fahrenheit 451 and Walden Two. Got any other recommendations?