Yeah, you’ve heard about it: the Big Brother, Oceania, Winston Smith. But this book is so much deeper than a simple prediction about the totalitarian future, or even, about a lame reality TV show.
10. The title
Many people say that the title can be from a commercial idea, since the original plan of Orwell was “The Last Man of Europe”. Or some might say that is a inversion of the year the book was finished, 1948, to bring the aspect of a future yet to come. No one really knows exactly. The mystery and reflection starts at the first 4 digits you will read, so brace yourself.
9. The philosophical content
Mr. Orwell is able to show us a big range of themes in a book written in a way that is very easy to read. He discusses political points of view as the hope of the world being in the hands of the workers, or as he says, the proles. No wonder it has been studied in many schools across the world. But all this seemingly simplicity hides the precise exercise of a writer that is actually very difficult to emulate. He even wrote an essay http://zip.net/bglpcX on how to write better using simple short words, teaching us to be direct, to go to the point.
8. The dystopian literature
Not only “1984” talks about a future time and a society with some kind of trouble in politics. Add to that list many books like: Farenheit 451, in which no one is allowed to have a book in their houses, Brave New World, where society is numb with entertainment and has a completely artificial way of living, Darkness at Noon, set during the Russian purges without mentioning figures like Stalin or Lenin. Once you go inside that world, there’s no coming back, is fascinating.
7. The technology
Yes, Mr. Orwell was a very wise man, but no, he didn’t predict any technological advances, such as the smart TV (the telescreen) or to bring joy to the world the way Apple perfected later. He just understood very well the world he lived in, the Europe before and after the World Wars, from 1920’s until the 1950’s. So take his ideas developed in the book as the insights of a man deepened in the social scenario of his era and add that to the fact of how much we repeat our mistakes through History.
6. Memory and past
The Party seeks to control everything – past, present, and future. Another effort towards attaining that goal is to control the people’s memory. Without memory, we cannot know the past. Without memory, the Party is able to control History. By controlling the past, the Party also controls the present – because its constituents will accept everything the Party says. In order to control the collective memory of its people, the Party forbids its members to keep written records of their lives, and mandates that any photographs or documents be destroyed through “memory holes” placed throughout Oceania. Since memory is unreliable unless corresponding reality may confirm it, over time, reality becomes fuzzy at best, and Party members are soon willing to believe whatever the Party tells them. Thus, the Party manipulates the past in order to control the present, thanks to our ever-failing memory. So, in a world where everything is collapsing, can you really trust your memory outside your own mind?
5. The love story
Yes, there’s a love story. But it’s no chick flick stuff, guys. It can be seen on two ways: the soft and lyric parts that tells the story of Winston and Julia work as a contrast to the heavier parts of the book, including the third part where Winston is tortured, or how much unequal is the society of Big Brother (and ours as well). Or it can be seen in a more pessimistic way where even though when someone is filled with love, no one can resist and make it last in a world where there’s no freedom and you are being watched 24/7.
4. It has his own vocabulary, “newspeak”
If you already read “The Clockwork Orange” you will find newspeak a piece of cake on a sunny day in terms of difficulty of reading new words. But although Orwell didn’t use so many knowledge in linguistics as Anthony Burgess did, he goes beyond any linguistic barrier and uses ideology to form a new language. Or do you really think that using something like “crimethink” has nothing to do with a very precise critic on how much the thirst for power the Party has? If you think the other way around, language really narrows thought, and thought depends on language. So, no thought can be had without the right words in which to express it. Therefore, the Party’s ambitions are attainable, they will never be able to control everyone’s thought.
3. Winston Smith is no perfect hero
We follow the book through the narrator telling the story of Winston Smith and how much he hates the Party and wants to change the way he lives. Well, he does that, but he only manages to change his own life and nobody else’s. So he’s no ideal hero that will save Oceania from Big Brother. He is human, broken by the small corruptions of his everyday life. That only stimulates us as readers to try and do something about our own lives.
2. The symbolism
To tight up so many themes, Orwell uses images and metaphors very skillfully. The memory and the past can be seen in old objects Winston buys at a kind of second-hand shop and in a song he keeps trying to remember and is only completed by his archenemy, O’Brien. Repression of emotions and of sex can be seen on a varicose ulcer above Winston’s ankle, that mysteriously vanishes when he’s in love with Julia. The future as a room where he is tortured, the place where there’s no darkness, that only emphasizes how little of a hero he actually is, always thinking of what is best for him. And finally, the inability of anyone living in Oceania to actually prove if the Big Brother is real.
1. It will really change the way you see society
It was written in 1948 and was published in 1949. But still it talks to us about the way our society works, how much selfishness still takes over everything, how the thirst for power can erase the continuity and how we could prosper. Either you loose hope forever, or, you stick to the narrator until the very end and continues to believe that no Big Brother can never destroy the human spirit and what it can do, such ashow do we make art and care for one another.
Culled from Buzzfeed