Orwell’s 1984

Brian Kataro, Assistant Staff Editor

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Everyone, at some point, has had liberties restricted, whether it is a curfew, not being allowed to buy something, being told what to eat, or anything along those lines. People under restrictions often feel oppressed – a feeling that’s constantly present in the plot of George Orwell’s 1984. Set in a dystopian world, 1984 follows the life of Winston Smith, a middle-aged man attempting to not appear as though he has an independent mind. He lives on the British Isles in Oceania, a territory that is in a war with Eurasia against Eastasia (the only three territories on the planet), which is overseen by an organization known as Big Brother.

Winston works at the Ministry of Truth, whose purpose is to erase any and all previous records of people and news that Big Brother wants to be erased. The world is devoid of any ownership; only the inner party (upper class) having living conditions better than the outer party (middle class) and their decrepit apartment complexes. Books, journals, or any other form of record-keeping not made by the party are essentially nonexistent, leaving people no method to remember or learn from the past.

In each and every building and home, there are monitors that record all sound and display, allowing Big Brother to watch every move made and hear any words spoken, leaving people no freedom out of fear of being dragged away from what little they have. Informing the party of someone’s free thought is actually seen as advantageous, as any person who has independent thoughts is seen as the enemy, so children are trained to report anyone and everyone, including their friends and family, for any suspicion of noncompliance. The issue with Winston, however, is that he somehow became self-aware and is looking for some way to escape the world that lies to him, yet is constantly in fear of getting caught by Big Brother. His desire for a life worth living, a life with change and emotion, is strong, but is it enough to escape the watchful gaze of Big Brother?

1984 continues to be one of the most thrilling and terrifying novels of all time due to the premise it poses: a world with no individuality. By restricting the actions of everyone, extending to the way they think, what they say, and what they do, Orwell created a world whose premise is nightmarish when compared to the amount of free will that many have today. It boggles the mind, causing the reader to look for any way to escape the world with Winston, the only character that the reader can relate to because of his want of freedom in a world devoid of it.

The world of 1984 becomes even more frightening when taking into consideration the possible uses of our phones and devices, with electronics now having the possibility to see and hear whatever is said around them, which can lead to another horrifying reality if technology evolves in the wrong way. Altogether, 1984 is a thriller that leaves the reader in a constant state of questioning what they can do to escape the eternal nightmare that is Oceania which always seems to be one step ahead of Winston, and the book wants to ingrain only a single thought into your mind: Big Brother is always watching.