Book Review: 1984

by Cait

So according to George Orwell humanity is screwed. That’s fun. But really, we’re screwed.

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1984 was a very interesting and somewhat difficult read for me. It follows the completely stifling life of Winston Smith. He lives in a geographical superstate called Oceania, which is ruled by, the Party, whose leader, Big Brother, watches and examines each and every move made by its citizens. You see, the Party is in place to ensure that complete and utter submission to its leader, Big Brother, comes from each and every citizen of Oceania. Through a series of wars, there was a somewhat rapid evolution to a totalitarian governmental system in which power hungry leaders sought out and found most every imaginable way to control a large group of people. This control has led to warped priorities within the country, and therefore most of the population live in run-down apartments, eat nearly inedible food, work mind-numbing jobs, and participate in activities all centered around their love for their leader, Big Brother. However, the country has access to resources that at any time could improve all of their lives, the people simply do not know, have no way of knowing, and the crazy thing is, they haven’t even thought about it. Not most of them anyway, because any person who is a member of the party is expected to show complete contentment with their lives and undeniable devotion to Big Brother. If there is any indication of a digression from this way of thinking, it is detected and eradicated immediately.

Winston deviates and strays and digresses and turns his back, in all of the ways possible. He questions why life is so uncomfortable, because he remembers a time when it was not that way. He knows that he has most definitely been noticed as being a rebel, but this does not stop his need to find the answers behind the Party’s unquenchable thirst for power. Rather, because he knows that he will most likely be caught and murdered, he tries all the harder to find out all he can, and become a part of a force built around destroying the Party. Despite his knowledge that he will not in any way, shape, or form injure the party by sacrificing his one and only life, he pledges to do die for it anyway. He finds the need to know the “why” behind everything the Party is doing, and to work against it, even in the most trivial ways. (sex, being one, and drinking stolen coffee, another). Along the way, he finds a lover and a “friend.” Julia and O’Brien are opposites, but they bring out in Winston, what I believe, to be the best features of the novel.

We have Winston who seems to be a rather pathetic man who is simply surviving. When he decides to thrust himself into a life of crime and inevitable punishment, we finally believe he is alive. He has a sexual appetite and the ability to be passionate about something. He takes chances, risks and eventually loses himself, all because he believes that there should be life outside of what the Party has deemed the norm.

Winston and his story encapsulate what can happen when society stands idly by and watches things happen. When an active role is not taken by citizens of a nation, how can we ensure that a certain amount of dignity and freedom is guaranteed to those citizens? They obviously don’t seem to care, so what is to stop a government to simply take all that is good, and warp it into all that is evil? (Answer: DAILY DOUBLE…I’ll wager my life, Alex.)

These are questions that plagued my mind whilst I read 1984, and after I had finished it. The book was thought-provoking, but a little slow at times. However, I think it is a wonderful work of fiction that should be on every educated mind’s reading list.

Also there’s sex, soooo…

Until next time or not, I’m still Cait.

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