The year 1984 holds great significance for me; I was born that year.
That fact alone was what originally compelled me to read Orwell’s novel, for I was born in the future, and I didn’t know it…
In 1949 George Orwell wrote a dystopian novel about a world controlled by one government figure that watched over every move and every thought of the residents of Oceania.
In this “imagined” place, the fractured world of its main character, Winston, was overwhelmed by fear and hatred. Mass Media generated a perpetual state of collective hysteria and war held an everlasting grip over people’s consciousness.
1984 depicts a future gray and depressing, where every thought an action is studied, controlled and predetermined by an omnipresent entity called Big Brother; the brain-child of an all-powerful faction that had figured out a way to force the status quo into a downward spiral, toward nothing.
“We shall squeeze you empty and then we shall fill you with ourselves.” p.211
With every contrived step that Winston took toward his own self-realization, I let myself feel the glimmer of hope for that desolated future.
With every desperate effort to assert his identity, his individuality and his ownership of past memories and present condition, I let myself believe that after all those hardships Orwell’s dystopia might bend a little in favor of its “hero” and of humanity.
As depressing as it sounds, in a world were free-thinking is a crime, every dissenting mind find its end when is void of all purpose and every spirit is void of all will.
The moment I reached the end and read the final words I felt deep sorrow and great emptiness. I had travel a journey that took me not one step ahead, but pulled me and humanity backwards.
“Why should one feel it to be intolerable unless one had some kind of ancestral memory.” p.52
You should read this novel if you are looking to explore the following themes:
Identity and Individuality
Post-Nuclear Post-Apocalyptic Fiction
The role of “The City” in literature (one of my favorite themes to look for)
This are some of the characteristic words and concepts that the novel leaves you to think about (besides Big Brother):
WWII had officially ended on May 8th 1945. The last atomic bomb was dropped on Nagasaki in August 9th 1945.
The USSR had taken control of East Germany, and its capital, Berlin, was also divided into sections. The Soviet Union test its first atomic bomb.
The Communist People’s Republic of China is proclaimed.
Mass fear about the power of nuclear energy sneaked into people’s consciousness. In the 1950’s all the pieces were in place for a new form of global conflict, the cold war.
*So, the actual issues underlying both World Wars had not been resolved. War only changed forms.
The USSR boycotts the Olympic Games.
The first Apple Macintosh goes on sale.
The Space Shuttle Discovery has its main voyage.
DNA profiling was developed.
“If you want to keep a secret you must also hide it from yourself.” p.231
The world and the city in 1984 is the description of the unavoidable future of a society brain-washed by mass media and controlled by the fear, represented by the watchful eye of Big Brother. But the true identity of Big Brother, the true source of that fear is each other.
Big Brother worked because it enlisted people to do the dirty work of spying and denouncing one another. It worked because it disintegrated society from within, breaking apart the relationships on which a healthy society is built.
We fight Big Brother when we respect each other’s privacy, when we respect each other’s freedom of speech and freedom of thought. We fight Big Brother when we unite against negativity in media and government impositions that rob us of our humanity, our individuality and our mind.
I hope we never allow 1984 to become our future.
Listen to my brief reaction to this book! Go to The Book Vlog (video is in Spanish)
What’s your favorite novel with a date in the title?