George Orwell

Artist’s development and social themes

Orwell had a deep understanding of the English characters, of its tolerance, its dislike of abstract theories and insistence on common sense and fair play. Orwell’s life and work were marked by the unresolved conflict between his middle-class background and education, and his emotional identification with the working class. Orwell believed that the writer should be independent, that no good writing could come of following a party line. Orwell was a prolific book-reviewer, critic, political journalist and pamphleteer.

Indebted to Dickens in the choice of social themes and the use of realistic and factual language, he conveyed a vision of human fraternity and of the misery caused by poverty and deprivation. He insisted on tolerance, justice and decency in human relationships, and warned against the increasing artificiality of urban civilization.

First that he died he wrote Nineteen Eighty-Four, his most original novel published in 1949 and soon became a best-seller.

Plot and principal themes of the Novel: “Nineteen Eighty-Four”

The novel describes a future England, no longer the head of an Empire, but an outpost of Oceania, a vast totalitarian system including north America and the British Empire, and extending over a third of the globe.

This book starts in London on April fourth, 1984. The book is written partly in third person, and partly in first person seen through the main character’s eyes. The work is divided into three parts: Part One introduces the main characters, Winston Smith, in the context of a regimented, oppressive world; Part Two describes his love for Julia, and the temporary happiness their relationship brings to both; Part Three deals with Winston’s imprisonment and torture by the Thought Police, and the final loss of his intellectual integrity. Orwell combined various genres and styles in an original way, blending documentary realism and an acute eye for detail with parody and satire. The tone of the book becomes increasingly pessimistic, violent and even sadistic in the last part, where Orwell presents Winston’s final defeat. Set in a grotesque, squalid and menacing London, Nineteen Eighty-Four is an anti-utopian novel. Anti-utopias show possible future societies that are anything but ideal and that ridicule existing conditions of society.

The novel doesn’t offer consolation but reveals the author’s acute sense of history and his sympathy with the mill’ions of people persecuted and murdered in the name of the totalitarian ideologies of the 20th century.

Passage: ” Big Brother is watching You “

In the passage Orwell presents a frightening picture of the future as being under the constant control of Big Brother. There is no privacy because there are monitors called telescreens watching every step people take. The party has absolute control of the press, communication and propaganda; language, history and thought are controlled in the interests of the state through the gradual introduction of Newspeak, the official language whose lexis is so limited that people find it impossible to express their own ideas. Any form of rebellion against the rules is punished with prison, torture and liquidation.

The main character is Winston Smith. The name and surname are very symbolic. Smith, the commonest English surname, suggests his symbolic value; Winston evokes Churchill’s patriotic appeals for “blood, sweat and tears” during the Second World War. Winston is middle-aged and physically weak; he experiences alienation from society and feels a desire for spiritual and moral integrity. He works at the Ministry of Truth where he alters the records of the past to fit current Party policy. In private he writes on the creamy paper of an old diary in an attempt to maintain sanity in a disorienting world.

He lives in called Oceania, under a government called INGSOC (English Socialism). The controllers are called “The Party.” The Party is divided into two sections, The Inner Party, and The Outer Party. The “Rich” and the “middle-class.” There is a third group of people called “The Proles,” or “The Proletariat” which are the poor, and considered to be animals by the party. The main leader of this government is Big Brother. All events in this time are alterable. The Party controls the past, present, and future. When the book begins Winston is thinking about where he works (in Minitrue), and he is trying to understand why it is the way it is. In this time any thoughts against The Party are considered Thought Crime and is watched closely by the Thought Police. The Thought Police can watch you through the Telescreens or from helicopter that occasionally hover around the buildings peeping into the windows.

At the end of the passage there are three slogans of the Party that are: war is peace, freedom is slavery, and, ignorance is strength.

War Is Peace is the belief that when two countries are perpetually at war they are perpetually at peace. Freedom Is Slavery means that as an individual you will die off.

Ignorance Is Strength is the idea that by keeping the people ignorant, they will not realize what is really going on.

Luca Barbaglia