Mass surveillance, zero personal life because of devices taking your data, fear of not being the majority as that might lead to death and slogans that are hammered into the heads of people till they are unable to believe an alternate reality… No, I am not at all talking about the state of things today. I am talking about the characteristics of George Orwell’s 1984. Welcome to an Orwellian Dystopia which is going to be the subject of today’s Book Review.
In A Gist
The main story revolves around a man who knows that he is somehow different from others and falls in love with a woman who, like him, is not like everyone else. As to why their love is a punishable offence, I am leaving it to you to read and find out. But you are mistaken if you think, George Orwell’s 1984 is just a highly rated love story. It is about the world that he has created. Published in 1949, Orwell wrote about the future and this book, written in the dead past, prophesied the future very well.
Or if you allow me to borrow directly from the writer of 1984, “Who controls the past controls the future. Who controls the present controls the past.”
Why Read George Orwell’s 1984?
Orwell writes very well. He weaves an entire dystopian world with his words. His farsightedness or as some like to call it, his imagination or visionary nature was on point. Orwell has done a brilliant job at creating a world or alternate universe that did not exist then, but now, seems a possibility. Posters, the dialogues of minor characters, the sacred book, the atmosphere of fear and other nitty-gritty makes the world feel plausible and real even if we take away their similarity to today’s world, just with his words.
The dystopia that he creates has large scale mass surveillance, the discontinued usage of one’s own brain and identical nature of everyone in looks and deeds together. In Orwell’s words, “If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face—for ever.”
Who Should Read the book?
I think everyone should read this book because you will relate to things, you should not be relating to. Those who deal in fields of Communication and Mass Media must read this book to learn a tip or two. Those who deal in fields of advocacy or whistleblowing too can read the book.
Specifically, people who are spies or manage them should read the book.
Though, Ideally, a common man should be the one reading the book more than any specialist. I am assuming that the Science fiction fans have already read the book unless you are living under the rock or have just joined the bandwagon of reading.
Best Scenes – 1984
There is this scene when the man and the woman are being tortured separately. There is just one condition for the torture to stop, one condition…. That the torture will be done to the one they love. This technique is used to break them both mentally because the Big Brother knows that breaking one physically is not enough. And Big Brother knows everything because he is ALWAYS watching.
So, when it gets too much, both of them give in or as George Orwell in 1984 likes to say, “In the face of pain there are no heroes.”
The Soul of the 1984
The book is about abusing and misusing power, It is about filtering those out who cannot conform to the standard rules of society. It is about faking to like what those in power are doing to survive. It is about giving up your freedom and your will to live your way. The last strand of human emotion that you have to… to give that up to Big Brother.
It is a book about Power. It tells you what someone with power can do, the length they go to.
Even erasing past and memories.
No, Winston, Neither did you sell her under that chestnut tree nor did she sell you… And I wish, I could tell the man drinking heavily that. But, I can’t and that is powerlessness. And after all, Who knows that better than you do? The one who has survived Room No. 101.
1984 and the Brave New World
In 1984, George Orwell creates a society that is very fearful. A society working on spy system and chemicals. Whenever the conversation goes around 1984, it is never finished without a mention of Brave New World.
Aldous Huxley in his Brave New World offers literature as a solution, even though that book too, has hard-hitting realities but literature metaphor-ised by Shakespeare comes as a ray of hope. In George Orwell’s 1984 there is no such catharsis or solution. Orwell’s characters are doomed and have no hope for them. All of this in the backdrop of Orwell’s writing which only concretises itself in the second half of the novel. The first half a poor set up to the seriousness that ensues later.
But, this is not to prove that Orwell is bad at writing. He has made a genius storyline and should be treated with high regard for such. The lack of emotion in the society that he has created only highlights the little emotion that he shows. Take, for instance, his observation on love, “Perhaps one did not want to be loved so much as to be understood.”
“If you loved someone, you loved him, and when you had nothing else to give, you still gave him love.”
Not only on love, his observations on Power too, blow your mind away.
Take this, “Power is in tearing human minds to pieces and putting them together again in new shapes of your own choosing.”
1984 is not a novel but a world in itself. No reviewer can ever wholistically talk on every length and breadth the book deals with. Tell me what aspect stood out the most for you or what you want me to review next in the comments section below. We would love to hear from you.
If you enjoyed this review, you will also like our review of Best books of the 20th century, here.