1984 By George Orwell

“War is peace. Freedom is slavery. Ignorance is strength.” This is the
slogan of the Ministry of Truth, a branch of the totalitarian government in
post-war London. The figurehead of this government is Big Brother, who employs a
vast army of informers called the Thought Police who watch and listen to every
citizen at all times through a device called a telescreen for the least signs of
criminal deviation or unorthodox thoughts. This novel, like Orwells earlier
work Animal Farm and Aldous Huxleys Brave New World, is an example of
anti-utopian fiction, that kind of fiction which shows man at the mercy of some
force over which he has no control. Anti-utopian novels are usually intended as
a criticism of the time in which the author lives. Nineteen Eighty Four, a
satire of totalitarian barbarism told through the eyes of Winston Smith, is no
exception. Orwell deliberately keeps the plot in 1984 simple, without any
narrative twists or shocking surprises until the very end. He is very careful to
present the idea that it is our society and government, not people, that are
mixed up. The plot is not merely a boy meets girl story, but helps to pull the
characters through the story. For Orwells purposes, the plot need not be too
complex, for it might detract from his message. By keeping the time frame of
1984 to a short period and involving relatively few main characters, Orwell
focuses on the important issues of totalitarianism and total government control
through brainwashing. In connection with the plot of this novel, Orwells
setting is of supreme importance, for it creates the ambience of the story.

Orwells setting is well done, and helps formulate the readers opinions
about what he is reading. Nineteen Eighty Four begins in spring, the traditional
time of rebirth and romance. But the reader soon learns this is not an accurate
description of the times. The air is cold and the city is a ruin. With just a
few indications of setting, the reader begins to understand what this novel
stands for. London, a city central to the Western tradition and one of the most
beautiful cities in the world, has been destroyed through the revolution from
capitalism to totalitarianism. It is virtually an open sewer. Everything, from
the language and culture to its history and people, is being demolished. Orwell
also uses setting to communicate mood and situations, arousing hate in the
reader towards Ingsoc and Big Brother. The best examples of this are the Two
Minutes Hate and Winstons electroshock treatment. By using normal
surroundings and twisting them, Orwell communicates the idea that our own world
is vulnerable to the tyranny portrayed in Oceania. In 1984, Orwell manipulates
his setting so that once the reader has finished the book, he carries Orwells
ideas and feelings about totalitarianism into life. Orwells diction and style
are powerful and overwhelming. He describes pain and suffering in graphic
detail, and his presentation keeps the reader alert by shifting suddenly in
unexpected directions. In this novel, Orwell wonderfully implements a dichotomy
between the reality of our world and the unreality of fiction. The barrier
between what is real and what is depicted in the novel is obliterated as Orwell
satirizes and mimics contemporary society. Orwells style captivates the
reader into the reality of the world in 1984. In a complex work such as 1984,
there are numerous structural relationships upon which the author bases his
central themes and ideas. Orwell comments on politics, economics, war, love, and
truth among other things. In the microcosm of 1984, the love which develops
between Winston and Julia is exemplary of the struggle of those who have to
exist in a society which scorns love and sexual desire. The Partys altering
of the past in order to deceive its citizens and create in them a sense of
utopia is designed to reveal the conflict between truth and the mutability of
truth. Obviously the most important theme of the novel centers around the evils
of totalitarianism. Orwell portrays not just what the world is becoming, but
what it is. The bewildering and anti-human experience of a person living in a
totalitarian state is likely to bring about the kind of alienation apparent in
1984. Winston, the most obvious example, is severely cut off from the outside
world. Alone and lonely, he feels alienated from his family, his neighbors, and
the rest of society. Even with Julia, Winston does not find someone who shares
the same thoughts and opinions that he does.

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