1984 A Prediction of Totalitarianism

BY Klara, Bronwyn, and Jessica

George Orwell

George Orwell was a socialist, atheist, and British traditionalist who attended Mass regularly but was critical of Christianity and the Catholic Church. He was openly homophobic, worked for a communist journal, had a hatred for BBC, and defended a Nazi sympathizer. Some of his other famous books include Animal Farm, Road to Wigon Pier, and Homage to Catalonia.

Summary

'1984' is set in London 35 years after it was written. The main character, Winston Smith, lives under an oppressive government in the nation of Oceania, in which people are monitored by screens and forced into absolute compliance with the Party, or their government regime. Oceania is one of three nations in the entire world, the other two being Eastasia and Eurasia. These three nations are constantly at war, and Oceania changes its alignment almost weekly. At one point, they will be fighting Eurasia alongside Eastasia; the next week they will fight Eastasia alongside Eurasia. However, when Oceania is at war with one of these powers, they claim that they have always been at war with that power. They deny any past relation to that state.

Oceania is a highly unequal and oppressive society, in which lies are accepted and classes are sharply divided. Winston works in the Ministry of Truth, a government department that specializes in propaganda and changes old articles to reflect the ideas of the Party. The class system of Oceania mirrors that which Karl Marx despised -- the Party represents the bourgeoisie, or the rich, and the "proles", or the poor, represent the proletariat. Citizens of Oceania are forced to hail "Big Brother", an unseen political figure who personifies the Party.

Opposition to the Party results in torture and death, however Winston secretly dislikes the Party and Big Brother. He writes his ideas in a journal and enters a relationship with a young woman named Julia, who helps him join a secret society that attempts to sabotage the government of Oceania. They are eventually caught, and Winston is tortured and humiliated until he truly loves the Party and Big Brother. The books ends years after Winston is released from prison, and victory is announced in the war with Eastasia and Eurasia.

Quotes

"Perhaps one did not want to be loved so much as to be understood."

"Who controls the past controls the future, who controls the present controls the past."

"In the face of pain there are no heroes."

Controversy

When 1984 was published in 1949, people saw it as being critical of Josef Stalin, leading to it being banned in the USSR. In 1981, it was challenged by parents in Florida for its sexual content and communist themes. In 2010, It was recalled from Amazon.

Importance

1984 shows and emphasizes the governments' power over people. It also draws attention to danger of a defective government.

Suggested Articles

"George Orwell's '1984' is suddenly a best seller"- New York Times

"A look at some of the ways George Orwell's '1984' has come true"- New York Times

Suggested Books

Fahrenheit 451, Ray Bradbury

Animal Farm, George Orwell

Made with Adobe Slate

Make your words and images move.

Get Slate

Report Abuse

If you feel that this video content violates the Adobe Terms of Use, you may report this content by filling out this quick form.

To report a Copyright Violation, please follow Section 17 in the Terms of Use.