3 Aug 2012

Nineteen- Eighty- Four: A Review

At first glance, George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four would appear to be no more than his fantastical idea of what a dystopian futuristic world would resemble. We read the book, and become acquainted with the characters as if they exist in some kind of alternative world; a belief accentuated by Orwell's intentionally futuristic descriptions of London with the four ministries towering above the city in a scene despairingly removed from reality as we know it. 

One notable passage shocks the reader into realising just how abhorrent society in the novel is. After a girl asks what Winston thought of her before they became acquainted, he states: ‘I hated the sight of you… I wanted to rape you and then murder you afterwards… I imagined you had something to do with the thought police.’ Her reaction suggests both a dullness to the concept of killing and a severe perversion to human trust and relationships. She is described as having ‘laughed delightedly, evidently taking this as a tribute to her disguise,’ rather than being deeply disturbed.

Later, we begin to understand that the book provides so much more than a warning about totalitarianism and its effects on scoiety as a whole. The novel addresses the human spirit. It explores whether the Big Brother state can truly defeat resistance against its tyranny. Unfortunately for the liberals among us, the answer which Orwell pessimistically delivers is that an individual is powerless against the forces of society and totalitarianism. 

The novel ends with a terrifying image. Winston cries out ‘forty years it had taken him to realise what kind of smile was hidden beneath the dark moustache… it was all right, everything was all right, the struggle was finished. He had won the victory over himself. He loved Big Brother.’ Personally, I finished reading nineteen- eighty four with the image of Big Brother’s stern face staring perpetually out into the crowds, needlessly destroying Winston and Julia’s humanity along with a feeling of deep sadness for the characters, as we all so lovingly wish them to live their own individual lives free from opression; something that we, thankfully, merely take for granted today.

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