Saturday, 30 July 2011

Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell (5/5)

The back says: In Orwell’s frightening vision of the future, society is under the control of Big Brother. Every aspect of life is closely monitored, while any hint of unorthodoxy is ruthlessly suppressed by the Thought Police. The Ministry of Truth, where Winston Smith works, is the Party’s propaganda machine. A secret rebel, Winston yearns for liberty and finds new hope when he falls in love with the earthy, uncomplicated Julia. Instead he discovers a nightmare world of terror where the price of freedom is betrayal.

I say: I can’t even know what to say about this, because it had my mind working overtime throughout the entire read. I do realise that I’m very late to the party (pun totally and nerdilly intended), and I can’t help but wish that I had read this sooner.

Much sooner.

I know that I use the expression a lot, but I seriously can’t even know where to begin to dissect this because it contains so many layers. Big Brother watches over everything and everyone, and any anomaly is swiftly ‘taken care of’. As always with these types of dystopian novels, we follow a person who not only finds something wrong with the system, but is also desperate to free himself of the bondage, as it were. In this case Winston Smith. He works at the Ministry of Truth were he changes newspaper articles to make sure that Big Brother is always right and making it impossible for anyone to prove dfferent. He begins a relationship with Julia, falls in love, and in doing so tries to find a way out of Big Brother's reach.

That is probably as far as I can go without giving away any spoilers.

Like I said, there are so many layers within this novel that warrant discussion and analysis and there is no way I can possibly do that here and now. I’m actually yearning to re-read it just so that I can get a clearer picture of everything. To say that I love it would be an understatement; everything from Winston’s naiveté (if I may) and blind obedience to his realisation (more than discovery, since he’s always sensed that something wasn’t right) of the truth and later on the road to and price of freedom. It was downright disturbing the way that the state was training children to be obedient little spies that would turn in their own parents for the simplest of crimes, like talking in their sleep. Not to mention the absolute control that Big Brother had.

Over everything.

In the beginning of the book we are introduced to the three slogans of the Party (those who control Oceania, the part of the world Winston lives in): “War is peace. Freedom is slavery. Ignorance is strength” (p. 6). But because the people are forbidden to think for themselves, or question anything, these three paradoxes become as self-evident and natural as the posters seen everywhere with Big Brother’s face declaring that “BIG BROTHER IS WATCHING YOU” (p. 4). And it’s not until Winston finds out the true meaning behind those words that the world he lives in finally makes sense.

I have to say that what I really loved was when Winston finally came to the conclusion that: “Being in a minority, even a minority of one, did not make you mad. There was truth and there was untruth, and if you clung to the truth even against the whole world, you were not mad.” – p 226


  1. I love this book. It does have so many layers and issues and it really does challenge the brain. Glad you enjoyed it.

  2. Yeah, I just wish I had read it much sooner in life. I'm starting to feel that way about a lot of the classics, and I'm really glad I started this project of finally reading them.