Reading the Classics: 1984

Reading the Classics: 1984

1984 has long been my daughter’s favourite book. Shamefully, my knowledge of the text had had, up until now, been limited to specific concepts of the text. The notion of Big Brother and Room 101 I understood were themes within the novel, however, I had no indication of their true meaning.

1984

THE CONTEXT

This classic novel was published in 1949 by the English novelist and social commentator, George Orwell. Orwell was writing in post-war England at the beginning of the Cold War era. The two superpowers, America and Russia were about to embark upon a struggle for dominance. To understand 1984, it is first necessary to consider this context within which Orwell was writing. The twentieth century had seen the world torn apart by two world wars. As troubles brewed between America and Russia, another world war may have seemed imminent. Therefore Orwell and his contemporaries may have envisaged the whole of the twentieth century as a continuous battleground.

1984

BY GEORGE ORWELL

1984 is categorised as a dystopian novel (meaning an alternate world which is terrifying or undesirable). It offers a grim view of future events. The political party ‘Big Brother’ controls the geographical region known as ‘Oceania’. Oceania is at perpetual war with one of two of the other super-states: Eastasia and Eurasia. Big Brother or ‘The Party’ control every element of life within its territory. The protagonist of the story is Winston Smith. Winston is an outer member of the Party who, like all other citizens in Oceania, has lost his identity. Winston’s job is to re-write history – in effect – to ensure that the Party is always right. However, Winston begins to question the Party and seeks to rid himself of its shackles.

However, this is no easy feat for Winston. Because telescreens watch your every move. The totalitarian state so vividly described by Orwell is one of surveillance, propaganda and terror. The slightest change in behaviour or deviation from social guidelines can attract the unwanted attention of the “Thought Police”. The sole purpose of this department is to eradicate free thinking and individuality.

Conformity is an outward expression of love for the Party. No-one is to question the motives or the actions of the party. Citizens are to obey all orders. Terror rules and the ‘eradication’ or ‘vapourisation’ of citizens ensure that few dare to step out of line.

Winston meets a similarly minded individual in Julia. Together they rebel against the regime and their journey is the setting of the story.

SUMMARY


1984 is as relevant today as it was in the 1940s. Consequently, with the increasing number of CCTV cameras watching our every move, people are often reminded of Orwell’s classic novel. Furthermore, Room 101, a term which has entered the English language was created by Orwell – a room in which citizens face their worst fear. The concepts explored in 1984 are still important today.

In conclusion, reading 1984 was a must for me and I would recommend adding it to the top of your reading list if you haven’t already read this fantastic novel. Finally, 1984 was not what I expected it to be, I’m not sure what I had expected. But the journey of an individual who had no individuality proved to be a captivating read.

1984 by George Orwell – Blackwells – £7.99

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10 Comments

  1. February 28, 2019 / 10:24 pm

    I remember reading this in 1987 in English class. It seemed so ‘crazy’ or unbelievable at the time. Now we live in a time and place where so many things can be compared to this book. It’s amazing the ‘sight’ Orwell had back then. I also read Animal Farm, another good one from Orwell that can be related to today’s world politics.

    • March 5, 2019 / 10:57 pm

      Thanks Michelle – I have Animal Farm as the next book on my list – can’t wait to read it xxx

  2. March 6, 2019 / 2:22 pm

    I remember reading this book years ago, it has impressed me a lot! Sometimes I think about how politcial are the mass media nowadays, and I´m not sure we´re actually moving towards transparency! I should read the Animal Farm as well!

    Have a great week!
    Anna
    http://atlifestylecrossroads.com

    • March 8, 2019 / 4:01 pm

      Animal Farm is next on my list! Thank you for reading xxx

  3. March 14, 2019 / 6:16 pm

    I always loved this novel and I have to read it again, it’s still so actual nowadays, impressive right?
    xx Dasynka
    http://dasynka.com

    • March 18, 2019 / 9:44 pm

      You might honestly believe it was written in the 21st century! Thank you for reading xxx

  4. Kim
    March 16, 2019 / 8:58 pm

    Great review. I haven’t read the book 1984 but I have seen the movie – John Hurt is amazing in his role as Winston. The rat scene was horrifying. It’s definitely on my TBR list.

    • March 18, 2019 / 9:52 pm

      The rat scene really scared me! I think I’d be too squeamish to watch the scene in the movie xxx

      • March 19, 2019 / 10:43 pm

        It was one of those scenes that’s so horrific but you can’t turn away. x

      • Kim
        March 19, 2019 / 10:45 pm

        It was one of those scenes that’s so horrific but you can’t turn away for some reason. x

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