REVIEW: 1984 di George Orwell
AUTHOR: George Orwell
The main character – Winston Smith – lives in London and works in the ministry of truth and is a member of the external party. He does not share the party slogans and ideology and has deep strongly doubts in the party and all the reality around him. To “let off steam” and does not imprudent act, he buys a diary in which he tries to express his peradventure. In public, he tries to pretend a supporter of party ideas. However, he fears that the girl Giulia, who is working in the same ministry, spying on him and wants to expose him. At the same time, he believes that a senior official of the Ministry, a member of the Inner Party O’Brien also does not share the views of the party and is a supplementary revolutionary.
George Orwell designs a cruel, frightening, dark, mysterious society that is not unrealistic at all. He wrote this novel with the purpose of warning readers against the dangers of totalitarian governments. Having witnessed firsthand the horrific crimes and cruelties committed by totalitarian governments in Spain and Russia in order to increase their power, Orwell wanted to sound the alarm in Western Nations, by portraying the most extreme realization of a modern-day government with absolute power. And the most frightening thing about this book at the time was the title, because Orwell wanted to warn people that the story and the society he created were a real possibility for the near future.
I’m not kidding when I say that George Orwell’s words frightened me. I’ve always been fascinated by history and I’ve always liked thinking about past events wondering how our world would be like today if some historical events had gone differently. What if the Roman Empire had not been defeated? What if Columbus hadn’t discovered America? What if Hitler had won the Second World War? One single event ended differently could have changed the whole history. This means George Orwell’s society could have been a reality if some historical events had developed differently. And thinking about it is quite scary, but mostly it is unsettling that our world is always changing, so we can’t exclude the possibility that humans in the future will actually live in a society like the one depicted in 1984.
I think George Orwell did a marvelous job by creating the Party in this way. The Party is extremely queer and mysterious. Everybody knows their leader is Big Brother, but nobody has seen him or even talked to him, nobody knows and will never know if he’s a real person or just a picture. I think this aura of mystery and indeterminacy that surrounds him is the most important aspect about Big Brother because, since people know nothing about him, he appears more powerful and terrible than he would if people could actually see him. Big Brother is a hero, a god and a master at the same time; people love him and hate him at the same time; he’s characterized by a sense of superiority that detaches him from common humanity and makes him a ruler, in front of whom people can only submit. Big Brother is a legend, more than a real person, and for this reason people worship him and love him beyond any reasonable limit.
While I was reading 1984, I was really shocked by the loyalty the Outer Party’s members had in Big Brother and in the Inner Party. They didn’t actually fear them or hate them, but they loved them as if they were their saviors. The Party’s aim is to crush people’s capacity for independent thought; the government wants to destroy people’s feelings and beliefs, they want to control independence and identity, in order to empty people of their soul and rule them as if they were little puppets. To achieve this goal, the Party controls everything. The Party is constantly refining Newspeak, the language they created, to limit people’s possibility of using words, so that no one will be capable of conceptualizing anything that might question the Party’s absolute power. Instead of being unique individuals with specific, identifying details, every member of the Outer Party is identical: they wear the same clothing and smoke the same brand of cigarettes; the basic traits for establishing personal identity are unavailable to them, such as their age or past memories; even history has been submitted by the Party, since it is the government that decides what has actually happened, when and where. But most of all I was shocked by how the Party managed to destroy the foundation of human society, that is to say faith in other human beings: love, family and friendship are just words, that will probably be erased by Newspeak.
To conclude I would say 1984 is a powerful, perturbing book that leads us to think about our history, our society and, most of all, our future.
Have you already read this novel? What do you think about it?