1984, Science-Fiction or Reality
‘On each landing, opposite the lift shaft, the poster with the enormous face gazed from the wall. It was one of those pictures which are so contrived that the eyes follow you about when you move. BIG BROTHER IS WATCHING YOU, the caption beneath it ran’;(Orwell 3). The novel 1984 follows Winston Smith, a worker at the Ministry of Truth, who lives in a world where the government watches every move you make and attempts to control all your thoughts. Winston’s job is to change the past so his government can hold a tighter grip over the present and eventually the future. The government even has the ability to make its citizens believe that 2+2=5. Though all this may seem purely science fiction, 1984 subtly parallels our reality in many ways.
In 1984 the government was able to watch every move their citizens made by the use of telescreens, helicopters and spies. ‘In the far distance a helicopter skimmed down between the roofs, hovered for an instant like a blue bottle, and darted away again with a curving flight. It was the police patrol snooping into people’s windows’;(Orwell 4). However unlikely it may seem, our government has the capability to watch us just as ‘the party’; watches the citizens of Oceania.
As we speak, hundreds of satellites orbit our planet, each capable of watching everything we do outside. This technological advancement highly mimics that of the telescreens in 1984. If our government wished, it could use helicopters to peer into our windows just as ‘the party’; did in the novel. ”I didn’t want to say anything in the lane,’ she went on, ‘in case there’s a mike hidden there”;(Orwell 125). The mikes that can hear your conversation are much like the cellular phones in our society. Cell phones have become common place but perhaps that was not by chance. A cell phones works by sending signals through the air, which could very easily be picked up by an outside source. If they so choose, the government could listen to every conversation made on a cell phone. Technology, rather than helping to retain our privacy, actually takes it away.
Many references are made to the three different classes of Oceania, the inner party, the outer party and the proles. These three classes resemble our class system of the rich, the middle class and the poor. The only difference between these classes are that in the novel power separates the people while in our reality money separates us. The actions of these classes mimic each other as well. ‘The aim of the High is to remain where they are. The aim of the middle is to change places with the high. The aim of the low, when they have an aim;#8230;is to abolish all distinctions and create a society in which all men shall be equal’;(Orwell 210). These aims also apply to our society. The rich want to stay rich, the middle class want to be rich and the poor want everyone to be equal.
‘We produced a definitive edition of the poems of Kipling. I allowed the word ‘God’ to remain at the end of a line’;(Orwell 242). This quote explains the reason why a friend of Winston was arrested. In the novel, religion does not exist and mention of it can result in death. Though our society still accepts organized religion, our government subtly, and sometimes not so subtly, denounces it. Jesse Ventura, Governor of Minnesota said, ‘Organized religion is a sham!’; Laws are in place to keep religion out of public schools as well as other government bodies. The next step is for them to ban religion entirely, as ‘the party’; did in 1984.
The three major powers in the novel, Oceania, Eurasia and Eastasia parallel the major alliances that exist today. Oceania coincides with the modern day organization, NATO. As we have seen during the Persian Gulf war and the war in Kosovo, this alliance always enters into a conflict united. Eurasia consists of the countries of the former Warsaw Pact. These nations, though no longer bound by their communist governments, still have diplomatic relations(*). Eastasia is the final power, combining the nations of the