Title : 1984 (Nineteen Eighty-Four)
Author : George Orwell
Copyright, 1949, by Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, Inc.
Afterward © 1961 by The New American Library of World Literature, Inc.
Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World and George Orwell’s 1984 are the great modern classics of “Negative Utopia”-not dramas of what life might be… but nightmares of what it is becoming.
The world of 1984 is one in which eternal warfare is the price of bleak prosperity, in which the Party keeps itself in power by complete control over man’s actions and his thoughts. As the lovers Winston Smith and Julia learn when they try to evade the Thought Police, and then join underground opposition, the Party can smash the last impulse of love the last flicker of individuality.
But let the reader beware: 1984 is more than a satire of totalitarian barbarism. “It means us, too,” says Erich Fromm in his Afterword. It is not merely a political novel but also a diagnosis of the deepest alienation in the mind of Organization Man.
George Orwell writes with a swift clean style that has come down from Defoe. Like Defoe, he creates an imaginary world that is completely convincing-from the first sentence to the last four words…. words which might stands as the epitaph of the twentieth century.
As my professor-Mr. Yağlı-said, recommending is a dangerous thing. However, there is no exaggeration if I say that this novel is one of the best novels I’ve ever read. One of the reasons that impressed me so much is that the author published this book in 1949. In simple terms, George Orwell’s imagination is cool, right?
I actually have wanted to read thıs book since I was high schooler. But that opportunity just came to me a couple weeks ago. No worries. I read it too, after all. 😀
“Power is in tearing human minds to pieces and putting them together again in new shape of your own choosing.” (p.220)
This novel tells a story of a land called Oceania, in which is ruled by a Party who calls themself as Big Brother, who rules the people arbitrarily. Big Brother controls everything, including the people’s mind. They let the public blind to the outside world so the people will not have a comparison on a better government other than Big Brother. They put telescreen everywhere so they can easily detect anyone who against them even if it only as thoughts. They name it as thoughtcrimes. They have Thought Police for that matter. Not only that, they even make the family relations like a stranger. Every child is a spy for their parents. If children find their parents against the Party, the children will not hestitate to report it.
It was terribly dangerous to let your thoughts wander when you were in any public place or within range of a telescreen. (p.54)
There is no relationship that is based on love- as we know as human nature- because it’s all done for the Party.
No emotion was pure, because everything was mixed up with fear and hatred. Their embrace had been a battle, the climax a victory. It was a political act. (p.105)
You’re going to get married if the Party tells you so, you’re going to make children if they order to. Restraint of freedom continues, not because there are no rebels, but because each rebel will be evaporated.
People who had inccured the displeasure of the Party simply disappeared and were never heard of again. (p.40)
For keeping it that way, the Party does not even hestitate to change history. You may wonder how the Party changes history for their own sakes? They change and falsify the entire records through their ministries. They have the Ministry of Truth, which concerns itself with news, entertainment, education, and the fine arts- who changes the documents (sources of history) from time to time for the sake of the Party (for example, just pull the newspaper/book/everything out of circulation, change the content and spread them back); the Ministry of Peace, which concerns itself with war; the Ministry of Love, which maintains law and order- including punishment for people who are against the party; and the Ministry of Plenty, which is responsible for economics affairs.
And if all others accepted the lie which the Party imposed-if all records told the same tale-then the lie passed into history and become truth. (p.32)
Everything faded away into a shadow-world in which, finally, even the date of the year had become uncertain. (p.37)
They change and falsify the entire records to make the past before their presence looks bad so people would love them, consider them as the one and only hero. To strengthen the public love for the Party, they make the object of hatred or enemy, named as Emmanuel Goldstein. There’s even a program called Two Minutes Hate for Emmanuel Goldstein.
Sanity is not statistical. (p.179)
The Party also change the records when they intend to remove one’s existence. If someone called “A” betrays or againsts the Party, the Party will dismiss the figure of “A”, even his past… so people would assume that the man named A does never exist in the world. However, although the entire records have been altered, human still have memory to recheck.
“I know, of course, that the past is falsified, but it would never be possible for me to prove it, even when I did the falsification myself. After the thing is done, no evidence ever remains. The only evidence is inside my own mind, and I don’t know with any certainty that any other human being shares my memories.” (p. 128)
Since there is no real evidence other than memory, people begin to doubt their memory and trust in the records that has been changed by the Party.
For how could you estabilish even the most obvious fact when there existed no record outside your own memory. (p.33)
Winston Smith is one of those who still believe in his memory than the records.
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.179)
But it is actually a catastrophe for him. Winston has to hide his real thoughts from telescreen, from people who are loyal to the Party. Even when sleeping, he should keep his mouth shut so he will not preaching the real thoughts inside his skull-which is against the Party.
If you want to keep a secret, you must also hide it from yourself. (p.231)
Unfortunately, Winston is arrested by the Thought Police in an unexpected way.
After the arrest, many awful thing happen to Winston in prison which is controlled by the Ministry of Love. He suffers and struggles. Party will not let people die in a state of hating them. Therefore, the Party does do everything possible to make Winston sincerely love the Party. It’s truly difficult because Winston believes his memory. Party wants to make Winston believes that anything done by Party is true. Including a moment when the Party says that two plus two is five. However, Winston keeps arguing and insisting that two plus two is four.
They could not alter your feelings; for that matter you could not alter them yourself, even if you wanted to. They could lay bare in the utmost detail everything that you had done or said or thought; but the inner heart, whose workings were mysterious even to yourself, remained impregnable. (p. 138)
“They can make you say anything-anything-but they can’t make you believe it. They can’t get inside you.” (p.137)
Below is one of the moments I like when Winston is interrogated by O’Brien.
“Until this moment you had never considered what is meant by existence. I will put it more precisely. Does the past exist concretely, in space? Is there somewhere or other a place, a world of solid objects, where the past is still happening?”
“Then where does the past exist, if at all?”
“In records. It is written down.”
“In records. And-?”
“In the mind. In human memories.”
“In memory. Very well, then. We, the Party, control all records, and we control all memories. Then we control the past, do we not?”
“But how can you stop people remembering things?” cried Winston, again momentarily forgetting the dial. “It is involuntary. It is outside oneself. How can you control memory? You have not controlled mine!”
Is Winston eventually will be able to love Party sincerely after what was done by the Party to him? The Party will not let him die easily while he has not loved the party sincerely, FYI.
To die hating them, that was freedom. (p.231)
I’ll stop by now, guys, and let you discover the rest of the story by yourself.
Read, because you will learn lots of thing from this book. Including gratitude to respect others while the freedom to think, behave/act, yet restrained as in this novel. Be grateful!
By the way, there are two sentences from this novel that I want to discuss with you.
- If you kept the small rules you could break big ones.(p. 107)
- The best books, he perceived, are those that tell you what you know already. (p.165)
Do you think so? Let me know your opinions 🙂
P.S book cover will be uploaded later