"Thoughtcrime does not entail death: thoughtcrime is death." - George Orwell, 1984, Book 1, Chapter 2external image 1984first.jpg

About the book

1984 is a grim view of a dystopian future written by Erik Arthur Blair, more commonly known by his pen name George Orwell, was first published in 1949. The book offered readers the chance to see a future where the world was ruled by Totalitarian states.

About the author

Erik Arthur Blair was born in British Controlled India on the 25th of June, 1903. He died 46 years later, on January 21st, 1950. During those 46 years of life, he wrote hundreds of essays, criticized a lot of literature, wrote two of the most important books ever written and served in the Spanish civil war. Orwell (As he will be referred to hence) died of a collapsed lung in 1950. Orwells father was Richard Walmesley Blair. He worked in the Opium department of the Indian Civil Service. His mother was Ida Mabel Blair. In 1924, after graduation from college, he began work as an officer of the Indian Imperial Police. He was stationed in Burma. In 1927, while on leave in England, Orwell decided he wanted to take his life in a different direction, and resigned from the Imperial Police to be a writer. Over the next 20 years, Orwell would right many important books and essays, Including Animal Farm, a satire novella, and Homage to Catalonia, a novel about his experience in the Spanish Civil War. It was not until 1947 that Orwell began work on his masterpeice, a novel known as Nineteen Eighty-Four. A year after the novel was published, Orwell died, and he did not get to see the massive impact his novel would have over the coming years.

Plot synopsis613px-1984_Social_Classes_alt_svg.png

1984 is a novel that stretches a long period of time, and involves a good many charactors. The protagonist in this journey through a could-have-been future is a man named Winston Smith. Winston is a simple man, he smokes Victory Cigarettes, drinks Victory Gin, works at the Minitrue (The Ministry of Truth) and rebels silently against the all knowing, all powerful Big Brother. Winston is a member of the outer party; the inner party could be considered an upper class, the outer party a middle class, and the proles (proletarians) the lower class. Winston lives in the Country of Oceania, one of but three countries left on earth. The other two are Euroasia (Composed of Russia, and all of Europe except Britain) and Eastasia (Composed of Northern India, China, Japan, the steppe region and most of the -stan countries). Two of the three nations are constantly at war with each other, but each nation is too powerful for any of the others to overthrow. The nations are constantly allying and backstabbing each other. Little is known about the other two countries, as all the news they get runs through the minitrue first, and thus is almost always falsified to put a positive spin on it. The party is truth. If they say 2+2=5, then 2+2 does in fact equal 5. They control the past, the present, and the future.

The story begins with Winston sitting at home, in a spot outside of the view of the telescreen (A TV screen you can never turn off, that watches and listens to you and spurts propaganda 24/7). Winston does something in this out of view spot that will get him killed; he starts a diary. The first lines he writes in this diary are, "April 4th, 1984....". A couple weeks after Winston starts keeping this diary, external image big-brother-is-watching-you1.jpga woman falls while Winston is at Minitrue. As he helps her up, she slips him a note. He had been suspecting for weeks that this woman had been a member of the thought police, an organization that aims to find and root out people who commit thoughtcrime. The note simply says "I LOVE YOU". Winston is thoroughly surprised by this, and makes a plan to sit with her at lunch to provide a meeting. After several unsuccesful tries, Winston finally manages to sit next to her, alone. They exchange a few words, and she describes to him a place for them to meet, away from members of the Junior Anti-Sex League (A league for girls that was mostly used to spy on parents) and the telescreens. They met out in the country, in the woods, where they express their feelings for each other, explore sexual alleyways Winston has never experienced before, and make plans for other times to meet. Eventually, they rent out an apartment on the top floor of a seemingly mild mannered store-keeps shop. In the meantime, Winston makes contact with someone who he thinks is also against the government just like him. This mans name is O'Brian. O'Brian invites Julia and Winston to his home, where they get instructions to join the "Brotherhood", the organization that fights for the toppling of the party. A few weeks later, they recieve a book written by Emmanual Goldstien, Entitled The Theory and Practice of Oligarchical Collectivism. Emmanual is the lead enemy of Oceania. One day, while Julia and Winston were in their flat above the shop-keeps store, the windows are smashed in, a rumbling comes from the downstairs and all hell breaks loose. Soon, the room is flooded with agents of the Thought Police. It turns out that the innocent Shop-Keep was actually an agent of the thought police. Both Julia and Winston are dragged off to Minilove, the Ministry of Love. Here, they are "Re-educated." Winston finds out that O'Brian was never a member of the "Brotherhood" and that they had known Winston had committed thoughtcrime since the very beginning. In the minilove, they put O'Brian through countless tortures until he is finally re-educated, and lives only by the three slogans of the party:

WAR IS PEACE

FREEDOM IS SLAVERY

IGNORANCE IS STRENGTH

Winston is then re-admitted back into society, a shell of the man he once was. Back on the outside, he sees his love Julia once again. This exchange a few simple words:
"I betrayed you," she said baldly.
"I betrayed you," he said.
She gave him another quick look of dislike.
"Sometimes," she said, "they threaten you with something — something you can't stand up to, can't even think about. And then you say, 'Don't do it to me, do it to somebody else, do it to so-and-so.' And perhaps you might pretend, afterwards, that it was only a trick and that you just said it to make them stop and didn't really mean it. But that isn't true. At the time when it happens you do mean it. You think there's no other way of saving yourself and you're quite ready to save yourself that way. You want it to happen to the other person. You don't give a damn what they suffer. All you care about is yourself."
"All you care about is yourself," he echoed.
"And after that, you don't feel the same toward the other person any longer."
"No," he said, "you don't feel the same."
The novel ends with Winston staring up at a giant poser of big brother, crying silently to himself, and thinking "I love big brother".

Why this novel is outstanding

This novel is outstanding for many different reasons. It is will written, it keeps you coming back for more, and most importantly, IT MAKES YOU THINK. I CANNOT stand when a book is just useless drivel on a page that provides nothing for the reader to expand upon. But 1984 offers you the chance to make your own assumptions, to make your own inferences and conclusions. It offers the reader a chance to think! Also, this book can be considered the book for which every single other dystopian future novel ever is based on. It nearly invented the genre. Another reason this book is outstanding is that it has likable, believable characters. I cringed every time Winston went through torture because I felt connected to him. Orwell managed to instill in his characters a soul and a personality. It is, in my humble opinion, one of the greatest novels that has ever been written.

Literary Information

Orwell writes a very difficult novel to understand in 1984. But if one manages to decode the text, it serves as a real treat. The book would fall under the sci fi genre, and, more specifically dystopian future sci fi. This genre of novels is characterized as being the opposite of Utopian novels, where everything is perfect. In a dystopian novel, everything is bad. A dystopian novel showcases the faults in society. George Orwell also makes use of symbolism throughout his plot to connect to real world things and people. For example, Big Brother is supposed to represent "Uncle" Joe Stalin.

Criticism

It's hard to find anything wrong with this novel. The story, the characters, the setting, and the timing of it's publication are all impeccable. This is the kind of book that will make you burn the midnight oil. It grabs you from the beginning, and it takes you for a ride. That being said, this novel is definitely not for people who like everything to be served to them on a silver platter, or for people who aren't the greatest readers. If your a strong reader, put this at the top of your reading list. The only way to truly experience the epicness of this book is to read it. I 100% recommend this book. Go read it. Right now. Big Brother commands it.



Other things to see



This is the song "Testify" by Rage Against The Machine. It is off of their 1999 album "The Battle of Los Angeles. At the 2:50 mark, the lyrics state, "Who controls the past now, controls the future, who controls the present now controls the past, who controls the past now, controls the future, who controls the present now..." This is a direct quote from 1984, and an overarching theme of 1984.

Read Orwells books online!



Sources


"George Orwell Biography." George Orwell. Web. 22 Jan 2010. <http://www.george-orwell.org/l_biography.html>.
"1984." George Orwell. Web. 22 Jan 2010. <http://www.george-orwell.org/1984/index.html>.
Orwell, George. 1984. London: Secker and Warburg, 1949.