By Megan Malewich
George Orwell was a prolific writer that had a knack for incorporating powerful political commentary into interesting stories. Though best known for his novel Animal Farm, 1984 is Orwell’s most developed piece. Both pieces of nonfiction express his distaste for socialism. George Orwell’s 1984 is a the perfect example of dystopian nonfiction writing. Set in the the year 1984, the futuristic 1984 paints the picture of a totalitarian society in London, Oceania that is not picturesque. Orwell explores the repercussions of a society in which all aspects are controlled by the government, in the book The Party. Written in 1949, Orwell was inspired by what he knew about totalitarian governments, namely Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union, to warn readers what this kind of government and extreme socialism would look like in free countries in the future.
The concept of “Big Brother” can be credited to this nonfiction book. The Party’s omniscient leader is everywhere but never seen. The government has control over every part of life, even thought. The city of London is not a pleasant one and its population is always being watched, cameras are everywhere, even in private homes. Pyramid shaped building rise above the city to serve the government’s need for control. Winston Smith is the protagonist of the story and leads a life that rebells from The Party. As ordinary employee in the Ministry of Truth Winston works to maintain the government’s ability to control what the population knows, bending history to show the masses only what the government wants the people to understand. Disgruntled by his lack of freedom, Winston begins his rebellion by keeping a diary. His lists of crimes against The Party continues to grow when he becomes interested in co-workers Julia and O’Brien. Winston’s rebellion eventually turns explosive when he is confronted by the Thought Police. Rebellion, betrayal, self expression and power all mix in this powerful novel.
“Big Brother”, mind control, the affects of propaganda, and creative writing make this book a must read. 1984 is a classic that deserves the title. Orwell’s passion for writing and his concerns for politics blend perfectly in this novel. It explores self-expression, oppression, love, and free will. His deep passion to express his concerns about politics and the types of government during his time help create a novel that can show, though very dramatic, how the human mind can be altered so greatly. With constant and powerful propaganda a human can be changed into something they never thought they would be. This book shows how communication and what we are exposed to shape us as people.
“The best books… are those that tell you what you know already.”(Orwell, 1984) This book does exactly that, we already know the affects of what a totalitarian government can do, but the book does not only apply to history. 1984 exemplifies what effects communication, advertising, free will, and self-expression have on our minds and our society. Orwell succeeded in making political commentary into art, while expressing himself. Whether you are looking for a classic read, a fiction book that helped people be socially conscious, or a book that can blend entertainment and important lessons 1984 is a perfect choice. Readers will fully understand the saying “Big Brother is watching you” once reading this book. Orwell combines politics, social consciousness and science fiction into a dramatic eye opening masterpiece. Similar books that deal with censorship, propaganda, and rebellion are Orwell’s Animal Farm and Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451. However after reading 1984, I have found this book to have the best intertwining of artistic writing and political commentary. I highly recommend this book and would give it a rating of 4 stars.
1984 is a Signet Classic and can be bought for $10 in paperback form.
Rollins, Jill. “Nineteen Eighty-Four Portrays Totalitarianism and Mind Control.” Research Starters. Salem Press Encyclopedia, Mar. 2015. Web. Apr. 2015.
George Orwell. 1984. Harlow: Pearson Education, 2003. Print.
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