Otázka: 1984 by George Orwell
George Orwell, the author of 1984, was born in India in 1903. His real name was Eric Blair. Orwell hated imperialism. He was very much interested in social questions and he wrote about them and always tried to make people think about their lives and their values. Orwell’s last two books are the most famous from his work. The first one, which was written in 1945, is called Animal Farm and it is a story about animals, but it really castigates the political situation in Russia under the Communist government. In 1948, he wrote his last book, anti-utopian novel called1984. The book had a great influence on people’s thinking both at the time- and still has today. Early on the morning of 21st January 1950, an artery burst in his lungs and he died at age 46.
The book was published by Argo.
It is a full version.
It ranks among fiction.
And the type of the book is science-fiction, anti-utopian novel.
The story is set mainly in London, which was the city in the nation of Oceania, and it takes place in the year 1984. London in the book is a depressing place, where everything is in short supply. There is never enough to eat, the food is disgusting, there aren’t enough clothes or shoes and everything is dirty and ugly.
It is about Winston Smith and his life. The story has 3 main parts. The first one is about the world in Nineteen-Eighty Four as lived and seen by Winston Smith. The second one is about his relationship with Julia and his intellectual rebellion against The Party, which means the government. And the last one tells about his capture and imprisonment, interrogation, torture and re-education in the “Ministry of Love”.
The worst thing on this story is that the government is always watching everything people do. The Party has its own police, called the Thought Police. They have a telescreen in every room in every home and in every public place, so there is no place to hide. Everyone is watched every second of the day, even in private. It is the world where Big Brother controls everything. And this is what Winston Smith hates the most. He is working in the Ministry of Truth and his work is to rewrite the past, according to what The Party says that is true. For example, the Ministry of Plenty had issued a promise that there would be no reduction of the chocolate ration during 1984. Actually, as Winston was aware, the chocolate ration was to be reduced from 30 grammes to 20 at the end of the week in April. All that was needed was to substitute for the original promise a warning that “it would probably be necessary to reduce the ration at some time in April”. So he had to rewrite it as if it never was written. This example is only a triviality, but this happened with every kind of information. And Winston thinks a lot about the reality of his present, and tries to remember the reality of his past. But what is reality and the truth? Who decides? Winston is secretly unhappy with his life. He thinks he is probably the only person who is dissatisfied with this cruel world. He has illegally purchased a diary in which he writes his criminal thoughts. One day, he meets O’Brien and he has become fixated on this powerful Party member, whom Winston believes is a secret member of the Brotherhood—the mysterious, legendary group that works to overthrow the Party.
He notices a beautiful dark-haired girl, staring at him, and worries that she is an informant working for the Though Police so he’s afraid of her. But one day, he receives a piece of paper from this girl and there’s written “I love you”. They begin a covert affair, always on the lookout for signs of Party monitoring.
As he was always desiring, finally he meets O’Brien, who invited him and Julia in his house, and he gives them the book about the Brotherhood. Or, they think it is this book. But something bad is going to happen. Suddenly, soldiers burst in their room and seize them. Winston is taken away from Julia and brought in the feared Ministry of love. There he finds out, that O’Brien is a Party spy, who only pretended to be a member of the Brotherhood. They spend months torturing and brainwashing Winston, but he still struggles to resist. At last, O’Brien sends him to the dreaded Room 101. It is the final destination for anyone who opposes the Party. Now Winston knows, that he has a big problem. O’Brien tells him that he will be forced to confront his worst fear. He brought a cage full of rats and put it to Winston’s head and prepares to allow the rats to eat his face. Winston snaps, and begs him to do it to Julia, not to him. So he’s done, what they wanted. It’s their triumph…
Giving up Julia is what O’Brien wanted from Winston all along. They discharges him and outside he meets Julia, but it means nothing for him. He doesn’t love her anymore, the only one whom he loves, is Big Brother.
Winston Smith is 39 years old, he has a job in the government and is very unhappy with his life and with what’s going on in the society and what the government does. He’s a thin, frail, intellectual man.
Julia is attractive beautiful dark-haired woman working in the Fiction Department at the Ministry of Truth, so she works in the same building as Winston. She’s some kind of mechanic. Firstly, Winston hates her, because she’s very pretty and he can’t have her, but also because he suspects her of being member of the Though Police. But then she becomes Winston’s lover. She’s always optimistic and pragmatic.
O’Brien is member of The Party, very mysterious and powerful man. Winston believes, that he’s also a member of the Brotherhood, but finally he unhappily finds out, that he isn’t.
Ideas and message:
In 1984, ideas and message are maybe much more important than the story itself. This novel talks about totalitarianism. It warns us against this regime. The regime, where the government has absolute control over what people do, where they are, even how they feel, etc. And this may be, in my opinion, quite a forewarning these days, in the time of the internet, where everyone says and writes even private things about himself, where exactly he’s been, how it was, with whom, etc. And all this information, even every single email we send, is saved “somewhere” and it can be used without our permission whenever he, someone who has access to it, wants. So I think the biggest idea we should take from this book, is to not allow anyone to take away from us our freedom and to be careful of those regimes, like totalitarianism.
Language wasn’t very difficult, George Orwell uses rather simple, not very complicated, sentences. I had sometimes problems with “the language of totality”, I mean Newspeak, but I’ve this book also in Czech, so I could look and check the word in Czech.
I find this book very valuable and that it is a gem of English literature. I prefer books, where there is some idea (deeper idea then “I felt in love with somebody and finally we’ve got married. Happy end.”), so that I can think about it and find out, what the author wanted to say. And 1984 is exactly like this.
– George Orwell: 1984, Argo
– Penguin Readers: 1984 – George Orwell, retold by Mike Dean
– Some information (relating to the plot) were used from sparknotes.com.
– The picture of Big Brother (on page number 2) is from lightlit.wordpress.com.
– The picture of George Orwell (on page number 5) is from Wikipedie.org.