Although George Orwell’s “1984” has been out for some time I had not read it until recently. In junior high(1985), one of my elective classes worked on the radio play that was to be played on the PA system to the entire school. I don’t remember if it ever happened or not.
After having read “Animal Farm” a few years ago it seemed appropriate to go back and read “1984” for the first time. The basics of the novel were already in my psyche: telescreens that never turn off, shortage of essentials such as razor blades, helicopters that hover to get a closer look at what someone might be doing. The more sinister plot of the novel is not appreciated without a full reading, however. The government is in complete control, watching its citizens at all times, inspiring fear of foreigners, rewriting history to suit its needs, and running a war that will never end. It is at the same time a simple, yet tragic, love story.
Our protaganist, Winston Smith, finds himself questioning the very government that he works for. In his mental rebellion – illegal in itself as thought crime is punishable by death – he finds a beautiful co-conspirator, Julia, with whom he begins an illegal affair (for even non-procreational has been outlawed). One almost forgets that the threat of Big Brother looms over every moment as Winston and Julia pursue their illicit love, finding time to secretly spend time together despite the constant surveillance that permeates modern life.
1984 is a warning against Big Brother – a euphemism for Big Government. Revisionist history, listening in on every conversation of its citizens, creating fear of foreigners, keeping its citizens on edge constantly fearful of attacks to keep and maintain control is what 1984 warns us about. We were to heed these warnings in 1949 when Orwell first penned them. Instead it appears that 1984 has been used as a blueprint for modern times. I will leave it as an exercise for my readers to draw the obvious parallels to 2006.