Number 1, or really 2 of my new found literature :D
Its true, mankind needs some form of control to operate peacefully, however I disagree that that was the ultimate point of George Orwell’s book Nineteen Eighty-Four. In truth I believe that his ultimate point was something a little different; instead he was trying to deliver a message from between the lines of his book. A warning that is; if humanity continues to progress as we are doing so now, our future generations will suffer the consequences, the existence of a society controlled and bound down by its own mind, and by its own ‘free will’. Orwell has littered Nineteen Eighty-Four with evidence of this theory, and hopefully this essay will convince you that Nineteen Eighty-Four is actually spelling out a warning and not convincing us to become a totalitarian society.
One of the most chilling aspects of this book is the fact that it’s not hard to see Winston’s reality becoming our reality in the near future; Orwell makes definite links between the society of Nineteen Eighty-Four and our modern society, making the book feel very personal, and the effect is enhanced as we are looking through the eyes of Winston, who has a similar mindset to that of the reader. Would you agree that in our society you rarely have any privacy? Your credit card allows people to know exactly where you are at what time, there are atleast 2 or 3 cameras on every semi busy street, be it ATM cameras, security cameras, phone cameras and not even to mention the giant satellites floating around- like the one that does the footage for Google Earth. Mankind is under watch 24/7 and we aren’t even aware of it. The only difference between the society in 1984 and the society we have now is that the people in Nineteen Eighty-Four are aware of how watched they are; they know the uses of the telescreens, they know that the thought police are always right around the corner, they know that your greatest enemy could be your own flesh and blood- it was common for children to turn in their parents to the thought police, they were praised for it. Can you really see much of a difference between the two societies? CIA vs the Thought Police, Telescreens vs Cameras; there is hardly a difference anymore- Orwell made and uses those common traits to the point that they feel almost familiar with them when you read the book, and its only when you take a step back that you realize that, if we can be so similar in that way, how much of a leap is it to be similar in the other parts of our lives? How far away can a totalitarian government be, where control lives only at the top of the hierarchy pyramid, oh wait do we already have that?
Nineteen Eighty-Four was a warning, it was telling us of how we will turn out if our society continues on as it’s going - I believe it is also trying to scare us away from that reality by showing us the worst possible outcome, and by scare I mean literally freak us out enough to change. Orwell seemed to always be discomforting the reader, adding in scenes or language that are uncomfortable to read about. One of the most obvious examples of this is perhaps when Winston is walking around the prole district and a bomb is fired into the area, this an everyday occurrence so the whole experience blows over in a matter of minutes, as Winston walks away from the scene he sees a hand, “Apart from the bloody stump, the hand was so completely whitened as to resemble a plaster cast. He kicked the thing into the gutter, and then, to avoid the crowd, turned down a side-street to the right.” Usually a human is not that nonchalant when it comes to stranded body parts, the fact that Winston was unnerves the reader, the act is found almost inhumane and we put so much emphasis on being a normal human, and seeing some one that is practically a psychopath, it scares us- we shy away from that part of humanity and I believe that is what Orwell wanted us to feel all along- a fear of becoming that society.
There is also the fact that the entire society that is portrayed in Nineteen Eighty-Four is dystopic, if Orwell’s goal were to say that humanity needs control then he would most certainly not portray this ideal society from that dystopian point of view. Orwell uses a number of different techniques to express this idea of a dystopian society, most of them being based around the atmosphere and setting. Oceania in the year Nineteen Eighty-Four has a distinct feeling of Europe during the mid 1940’s, that is to say a state of war, or just post war; and what are war and dystopia if not synonyms? The whole setting/atmosphere in Nineteen Eighty-Four is bleak, there are grey, eroding buildings that smell like cabbage, 85% of the population in Nineteen Eighty-Four live in the ghetto and there are limited-nil supplies of boots and razors those things alone make you think of a barren, unhappy place where everyone has holes in their winter jackets. Well everyone except the 2% of the population that live in every dystopian society that have their winter jackets made out of the finest quality mink fur, drink the finest quality of red wine while the rest drink mass produced ‘victory gin’ and have the most luxurious of living areas that don’t smell of cabbage; there is a distinct hierarchy system set up in this society, one that is impossible to change. Orwell uses these themes to display the dystopian-ness of Nineteen Eighty-Four; the society is physically portrayed as dystopian to mirror the way that is dystopian mentally. Mentally it is a society that is oppressed by the use of their own mind, by the process called ‘doublethink’ and it seems that even at the very top of the hierarchy pyramid there is no escape, there is no leader anymore, it’s a vicious cycle.
A warning- that is what Nineteen Eighty-Four is, there is no way that Orwell is trying to convince his readers that the world would be a better place when humanity is controlled, if that was his goal he would not have written his book portrayed in such a negative light, full of unnerving characters with psychopathic tendencies, atmospheres that feel like everything is dead or dying and then making it feel like this future is right around the corner, that if only we went a little bit more the right or the left our society could end up just like the one that Winston tries and fails to escape with the only thing he is left with are the horrifying consequences. We can only hope that Orwell wrote his book soon enough that humanity might take some heed and maybe be able to scrape past that future that we seem to be heading for anyway.
by Taxi xoxo