Book Review: 1984 – Big Brother Is Watching You

1984cover
Photo: Goodreads

George Orwell wrote the book 1984 in 1949. The book portrays the-then future depiction of the political and emotional aspect of human lives in the year 1984. Since the world suffered from a terrible war in the 1940’s, Orwell’s imagination must have found the future world to be riddled with war and dictatorship as well because this depressing novel is about how the world looks in future.

The novel begins with the protagonist Winston Smith and his daily activities. The introduction part of the novel describes the current lifestyle and political status of the year 1984 from his point of view. In this timeline, the world has only three super-giant countries or provinces namely Oceania, Eurasia and Eastasia. These three super countries are in the constant state of war with each other. Even though the provinces have all things needed to establish a civilized society, their final goal is world domination and war for the sake of war. That being said, no province ever has an upper hand in this war because each province each has equal war force and energy. Therefore, the provinces are stuck in a never-ending three-way tug-of-war.

Our protagonist Winston Smith resides in Oceania, where the population is divided into three classes; the inner-party, the outer-party, and the proletarians or proles. The party being the all-powerful governing body of Oceania and BIG BROTHER, the apparent ruler or dictator. The members of the inner-party enjoy a certain lifestyle elusive to other classes of people while maintaining a higher position in the four ministries (ministry of love, ministry of peace, ministry of plenty and ministry of truth).  The outer-party members are people working in the ministries doing tedious works. Winston is an outer party member working for the ministry of truth. The proles lie at the bottom of the food chain, meaning their lives revolve around doing the same thing every day and hoping for a lottery win, which they participate in quite often.

The province Oceania adopted INGSOC as their main way of life. The main objective of the party is world domination and as a way of acquiring it, they plan to make all of their citizens devoid of feelings like love, which clouds one’s judgment. The party intends to enforce doublethink in their citizens. The official language of Oceania is Newspeak, the shortened form of English. The objective of Newspeak is to install onto the speakers the uselessness of complicated words and words filled with emotions. In all of this, the individuality of every citizen is lost and they become tools for the benefit of the party. Any citizen found straying out of the governing rules of Oceania is immediately identified by the thought police and then erased physically and no records of them ever survive. The politically correct term- “vaporized.”

Among all these rules, Winston finds himself trying to think of the party as wrong. He is afraid that he will be caught and vaporized. The lives of every citizen are monitored through telescreens. However, as fate would have it, Winston becomes a rebel and with Julia, his newfound girlfriend, he rents an apartment free of telescreens and thinks about what they can do to dismantle the party. He talks to O’Brian, an inner-party member, who Winston suspected to be a rebel a long time ago and finds out his instinct was right. O’Brian gives Winston a book by Goldstein, the infamous rebel.

Unfortunately, O’Brian turns out to be a thought police and Winston falls right into his trap.  He is taken to the ministry of love where he is tortured every day and beaten within an inch of his life. O’Brian instills in him a requisite for every citizen of Oceania; complete obedience. At last, Winston is free. However, Winston is completely changed and is a shell of what he was before. He even has faith in BIG BROTHER after an impending war is won by Oceania.

In this way, Orwell compels his readers to finish a distressful novel and makes us question our very way of life. George Orwell is famous for writing such distressful novels and ‘Animal farm’ is one of them.

Edited By – Aakankshya Shrestha