NINETEEN EIGHTY-FOUR

By George ORWELL

 

"WAR IS PEACE

FREEDOM IS SLAVERY

IGNORANCE IS STRENGTH"

In 1984, these are the slogans of the Party. The empire it rules over, Oceania, is constantly at war with one of the two others on earth, Eurasia and Eastasia. It controls the thoughts and actions of the population and, finally, there is no history, the Party is always right, no one can contradict it... Winston Smith despises this government whose control is symbolised by a poster bearing the caption "BIG BROTHER IS WATCHING YOU". But what can he do? The Party can just as easily "vapourise" him for even having thought of those feelings. The individual is not allowed to exist.

Nineteen Eighty-Four was written in 1948 at the height of Stalinís power and just after the defeat of Hitler. George Orwell describes in this satirical novel what the worst totalitarian government might be capable of doing in the future. His words are always ironic and tend to have a double-meaning: The Ministry of Peace deals with wars, the Ministry of Truth, propaganda, the Ministry of Love, law and order and finally, the Ministry of Plenty that deals with scarcities. Through this book, Orwell illustrates indirectly Hitler and Stalinís attempts to control every aspect of society.

Although they may follow the story, this book will be complicated for those who have not yet reached a wide enough understanding of politics for it is sometimes difficult to grasp the symbolic meaning of the plot. The philosophical touch Orwell adds to the book can sometimes be very profound:

"Freedom is the freedom to say that two plus two equals four. If that is granted, all else follows..."

In my opinion this is a scary thought-provoking book that is a must when one comes to study totalitarianism. It has shown me how lucky I am to live in a democratic society.

By Jeremy