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.
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.
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 t
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.
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