George Orwell- Nineteen Eighty-Four (1949)

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Now, I never have, nor will I ever watch the show Big Brother. However, the novel Nineteen Eighty-Four is what introduced the idea that “Big Brother is Always Watching” because, in fact, he is.

This is a novel about surveillance, deception and manipulation and is therefore a response to rebellion in an authoritarian state.

This is also, then, a story about Winston Smith, a man who fears thoughtcrime (the crime of holding controversial or socially unacceptable thoughts that oppose the ruling party) but is no longer willing to accept the doublethink that 2 + 2 = 5 or simply accept that certain documents he finds about the past history of Oceania (Oceania and Eastasia have always been allies and we were always at war with Eurasia) and simply dispose of them in the Memory Hole . This novel speaks to the idea of a government that not only controls action and speech through constant surveillance but also controls the thoughts of the people.

My brother recommended this novel to me earlier this year and it’s been on my mind ever since. The idea of “Big Brother is Always Watching” is a very intriguing idea to me because as a citizen of a “Free Society” we have the luxury of being free from surveillance once we reach our own homes and the only real surveillance (that we know of) is in stores, government buildings, banks, etc. I’m glad to know that the government is not spying on me while I eat my dinner or while I sleep.

However, Orwell made this novel as a depiction of a very near future. Although the year 1984 has come and gone, the ideas in the novel have not. We always wonder whether we are being watched or whether or not the government is telling us everything we need to know. There may not be explicit mind control or brain washing happening that makes us believe 2 contradictory ideas at once or that we have to worry about our own private thoughts being construed as criminal. That being said, we have no real idea what will happen to our society in the future. All we can do is hope for a society that is as close to a utopia as possible and hope that we do not fall into a Orwellian dystopian one instead.

Verdict: 11/12. I give this book high marks for creativity and originality and love for George Orwell, but that last point will be kept to myself for the simple fear that this could very well happen to our society. And it does not look pretty.

Questions:

What does our future look like? Is it an Orwellian one with constant surveillance or is it one with more freedom?

Do you think you could ever been convinced that 2 + 2 = 5 just because the government told you it was true?

What do you think of this Orwellian society? Are we terrified of this potential outcome?

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5 thoughts on “George Orwell- Nineteen Eighty-Four (1949)

    Jenkins1974 said:
    November 5, 2013 at 1:33 am

    Re your comment “There may not be explicit mind control or brain washing happening that makes us believe 2 contradictory ideas”: I think society as a whole does brainwash us, in terms of socially acceptable points of view. And also sub-sections of society have their own socially acceptable viewpoints, e.g. radical political groups. This is an idea I’ve been thinking a lot about and would be very interested to get some other views on.

    If interested, check out my post on “1984” in “booksfilmstravel.wordpress.com”

      kmhands91 responded:
      November 5, 2013 at 9:46 am

      You do have a point there. Our government might not be telling us 2+2=5, but our society does teach us the ways in which we should think and believe, and if we don’t completely agree or understand, we are left wondering why, and yet, we do not get any answers. I’m specifically thinking of children who learn their views from their parents. They are taught to think a certain way because their parents were also taught to think a certain way. Then when asked what they think about a certain issue, they immediately speak to the views they were taught, even if they don’t fully understand or believe what they are saying.

      It’s always nice to hear different views on the concepts in this novel and I’ll be sure to check out your post!

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