Written in 1948, 1984 was George Orwell’s chilling prophecy about the future. And while 1984 has come and gone, Orwell’s narrative is timelier than ever. 1984 presents a startling and haunting vision of the world, so powerful that it is completely convincing from start to finish. No one can deny the power of this novel, its hold on the imaginations of multiple generations of readers, or the resiliency of its admonitions a legacy that seems only to grow with the passage of time.:
I read 1984 for Banned Book Week. It is a pretty horrifying dystopia.
1984 is so well detailed, it’s easy to believe in. But at the same time, it’s hard to believe anyone swallows the Party’s lies. In fact, the love interest doesn’t believe half of what the Party says. But she doesn’t care, either, and that is very hard for me to credit.
The main character, Winston Smith, works as a clerk in the Records Department of the Ministry of Truth. His job is to revise historical documents to reflect the current Party line. If (when?) newspapers go completely digital, this would be scarier, because someone could come along behind you and change an article. You would never know. The idea is pretty damn scary.
Julia, the love interest, is a practical and live-in-now sort of young woman. The Party approves of sex only for reproductive purposes, but she indulges in it for pleasure. She’s better at getting around the Party than Winston, but that’s because she grew up with its restrictions.
The world is shown through Julia and Winston’s love affair. The constant threat, the constant surveillance and the necessary secrecy of their trysts. The TVs have microphones; if they had personal computers, it would be monitored, too. Even the décor is bugged.
The characters are who they are. You could call them cardboard characters. Their whole purpose is to show the horror of their world. If the characters were more real, better rounded, I think 1984 would be a lot scarier. Maybe scary enough to tip the book into horror.
The last line stands out in my mind:
He loved Big Brother.
After being caught and tortured, after knowing the Party is lying to him, he learns to love Big Brother. But that’s the point of torture and re-education: to love Big Brother. I think that’s Stockholm syndrome at its finest.
Winston gets out, but he only goes to work a couple of days a week. He drinks morning, noon and night. He’ll probably drink himself to death.