Orwell, George - 1984 - Book Report

Presentation / Essay (Pre-University), 1999

10 Pages, Grade: 13 Points

Free online reading

1 The Author

“George Orwell” was the pen name of Eric Arthur Blair. He was born in India on June 25 in 1903. His father worked for the British officials in Bengal. In 1907 his father sent the family back to England to protect them from the hard climate in India. Since the age of five, young Eric wanted to become a writer. He went to Eton from 1917 to 1921, writing some essays and working on school magazines.

Since he could not afford going to university and was not good enough to win a scholarship, Blair decided to join the Indian Imperial Police in Burma, where he stayed from 1922 to 1927 until he deserted. The climate had ruined his lungs, and so he suffered from pneumonia for many times during his life. Having returned to England, he lived in the East End of London, where he experienced the lives of the poor. He went to Paris in 1928, where he started publishing articles as a professional writer. In 1930 and 1931 Blair wrote “Down and Out in Paris and London” and began “Burmese Days”, in which he makes up his impressions from his life as a colonial. He supported himself by tutoring, and in 1932, he opened a small private school. In 1933, “Down and Out in Paris and London” was published. He had assumed the pen name George Orwell. By 1935 he could live on what he earned by writing.

In 1936, he left for Spain and fought in the civil war. As an idealist, he would have liked to join the army when the Second World War started in 1939, but he was rejected because of his illness. Having to stay at home, he worked for the BBC from 1941 to 1943, where he had to write war propaganda. After leaving BBC he became editor of a left-wing newspaper called “Tribune”. He began writing the political satire “Animal Farm”, which became a best-selling novel after publication in 1945.

Suffering from tuberculosis, Orwell rent a cottage on a small island, where he continued his final work, “Nineteen Eighty-Four”. He finished it in 1948, and it was published in 1949. Orwell died of pulmonary tuberculosis on 2nd January in 1950.

2 Setting

As the title says, the story is set in the year 1984. According to the preface of my copy, the author intended to set it in 1980, but since he could not continue writing because of his illness, he ‘postponed’ the year to 1984. He probably had an imagination of what might happen about forty years in the future. The name of the novel was originally intended to be “The Last Man in Europe” (see summary, part three).

The story takes place in London, which is the capital of a country called “Airstrip One” in the super-state Oceania, covering America, Australia, the southern part of Africa and the British Isles. There are only two other super-powers in the world: Eurasia and Eastasia. Oceania arose from the U.S.A. conquering Great Britain, Eurasia arose from the Soviet Union and Europe, and Eastasia, being formed after some more years of warfare, comprises China and Japan. This world order is not too hard to imagine, since the same countries are today’s world powers, too. These powers are continuously at war with each other. In the beginning of the story, Oceania is at war with Eurasia and allied with Eastasia.

Oceania is ruled by a pseudo-socialist party, following the principles of Ingsoc, the “En- glish Socialism”. The three slogans of the Party are: “War is Peace”, “Freedom is Slavery” and “Ignorance is Strength” (p. 6). Head of the Party is Big Brother, who is only known from posters hanging everywhere. “Big Brother is watching you,” (p. 3) is the most famous quotation from the novel. It means that the Party, through the so-called Thought Police, is observing everything you are doing—and even more, they try to find out what you are thinking. There is a device called telescreen in every room, which does not only display propaganda, but also observes and admonishes you. The telescreen can only be turned off by some few privileged citizens.

About six million people, less than two percent of the population of Oceania, form the Inner Party, the privileged upper class. The Inner Party can be described as the “brain of the state” (p. 217). Thirteen percent of the population are members of the middle classes, the Outer Party, acting as the hands of the state. The remaining 85 percent are the so-called proles, the proletarians, doing industrial and agricultural work. Being badly educated, they are considered harmless and therefore not observed by the Thought Police. The people in central Africa, which is conquered by any of the three world powers from time to time, have to suffer hardest from the continuous warfare and do the hardest work. They are regarded as slaves.

1984’s London is quite different from the London known to Orwell. Most people live in rotten nineteenth-century houses, and great parts of the city are destroyed by bombs. Due to the continuous warfare, there is a shortage of many goods. These which are available are of bad quality, but nevertheless they have been given euphemistic names. Winston, for example, lives in a building called “Victory Mansions”. He drinks “Victory Gin” and “Victory Coffee”, and he smokes “Victory Cigarettes”. From the first paragraph on, a dark, cold and uncomfortable atmosphere is introduced.

“It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen. Winston Smith, his chin nuzzled into his breast in an effort to escape the vile wind, slipped quickly through the glass doors of Victory Mansions, though not quickly enough to prevent a swirl of gritty dust from entering along with him.”

The enormous buildings of the four ministries of Oceania can be seen from any point in London. The Ministry of Truth deals with propaganda and other kinds of information, which always have to conform to the current policy of the Party. Everyone fears the Ministry of Love, where people opposing the Party are taken to. Nobody knows what happens to them. The Ministry of Peace deals with the war and develops new techniques of warfare. The Ministry of Plenty is responsible of economic affairs, although in fact there is no plenty at all. Oceania’s economy is planned for periods of three years; in 1984 the ninth three-year-plan is running.

3 Characters

3.1 Winston

The main character is Winston Smith, a 39-year-old man. The story is told from Winston’s point of view by an observer author. Orwell named his ‘hero’ after Winston Churchill, British Prime Minister in the Second World War.

Winston is a member of the Outer Party and works in the Ministry of Truth, where he has to alter records from the past, newspaper articles, for example, from the past so that they conform today’s goals of the Party.

Winston remembers the time before Big Brother’s empire. He often has nightmares of this time of starvation. There was a lack of food, but he had to eat something. He feels guilty because he thinks that his mother and his sister starved to death because of his greed. Winston always tries to keep the old world in memory. As the Party creates its own truth, this is not allowed. So Winston starts a quiet rebellion against the Party.

3.2 Julia

Julia is young woman of 26. In the first part of the story, she is referred to as “the dark-haired girl” (p. 16) because Winston doesn’t know her yet. Her name could be a hint at Shakespeare’s drama “Romeo and Juliet”, as there is a forbidden love connection between her and Winston, too.

Julia is a bold looking girl with thick dark hair and a freckled face. She works in a depart- ment of the Ministry of Truth which produces cheap pornography for the proles. She does not like the Party either, but she believes everything what Party says and doesn’t care whether it is true or not. In order not to be suspected of anything, she is an active member of the “Junior Anti-Sex League”. However, she wants to have fun and sex, which is only permitted as an old-fashioned way of getting children. So, her frequent love affairs are some kind of rebellion, too.

Her character may indicate that Orwell had a somewhat limited view of women. He has Winston describe her by the words “You’re only a rebel from the waist downwards.” (p. 163)

3.3 O’Brien

O’Brien is a member of the Inner Party. He is described as a large, burly man with a thick neck and a coarse, humorous, brutal face. He looks like a fighter, but he has very civilised manners. Winston believes that he is a member of the Brotherhood, the conspiration against the Party. He admires O’Brien and trusts him. Throughout the story Winston never knows whether O’Brien is his friend or enemy, but he always thinks of him as some kind of father. Later O’Brien turns out to be an agent of the Thought Police who works in the Ministry of Love.

3.4 Emmanuel Goldstein

Emmanuel Goldstein, a Jew, is called the “enemy of the people” (p. 13) by the Party. He is shown every day in propaganda films. It is said that he had been one of the leaders of the Party a long time ago, but then he became the enemy of Big Brother and founded the Brotherhood. He is said to be “the primal traitor, the earliest defiler of the Party’s purity” (p. 14) and to be responsible for “all subsequent crimes against the Party, all treacheries, acts of sabotage, heresies, deviations” (p. 14).

His appearance is described as follows: “It was a lean Jewish face, with a great fuzzy aureole of white hair and a small goatee beard—a clever face, and yet somehow inherently despicable, with a kind of senile silliness in the long thin nose near the end of which a pair of spectacles was perched. It resembled the face of a sheep, and the voice, too, had a sheeplike quality.” (p. 14)

3.5 Big Brother

After the revolution Big Brother wiped out all the other leaders of the Party and then himself became the one and only leader of Oceania. He is a good-looking man of about forty-five with a heavy black moustache.

Although Big Brother is shown on posters and telescreens everywhere, no one has ever seen him by himself. You do not know whether Big Brother really exists, but every member of the Party believes in him.

4 Summary

The story is divided into three parts. The first part introduces Winston and his first acts of rebellion. It describes everyday’s life in Oceania, too. The second part deals with Winston’s and Julia’s love affair and their entrance into the Brotherhood. The third part tells how Winston is tortured and brain-washed in the Ministry of Love.

4.1 Part One

On April 4th in 1984, Winston starts keeping a diary, where he writes down what he thinks about the Party and Big Brother. Of course, this is an illegal action. But since even the act of buying a diary has been illegal, Winston thinks writing into it makes no difference. Even if he doesn’t write down his thoughts, he won’t be able to hide them forever. In any way, the Thought Police will arrest him because of thoughtcrime. Winston reflects about that morning’s Two Minutes Hate, that is, the daily propaganda film everyone has to watch. He has become aware of two people: the “dark-haired girl” and O’Brien. He hates that girl because she behaves in a very orthodox way. He admits that he would like to make love to her, but he knows that he will never be doing so, for she is a member of the “Junior Anti-Sex League”. During the Hate, the eyes of Winston and O’Brien met for a short time. Winston suddenly ‘knew’ that O’Brien was on his side, that he was against the Party, too. He remembers a dream he had years before, where O’Brien said to him, “We shall meet in the place where there is no darkness.” (p. 27) Winston realizes that he has written “DOWN WITH BIG BROTHER” into his diary. He knows that he will be arrested for this crime. And he knows that the Thought Police will have people like him ‘disappear’: They wipe out every record of you and deny your existence—they vaporize you.

At work Winston has to alter records from the past so that they conform to what the Party actually did. For example, if Oceania has won a battle, the newspapers of the past need to be rewritten so that the Party has predicted that the battle would be won. The Party says, “Who controls the past, controls the future. Who controls the present, controls the past.” (p. 37) The orders Winston receives are not only abbreviated, they are written in Newspeak. Newspeak, which is further explained in the appendix to the book, is the new official language of Oceania. The old English language, which is still spoken by most people has been reduced to a minimum of words—for example, the easier word ‘ungood’ replaces the word ‘bad’. But Newspeak was primarily invented for ideological purposes. There is, for example, no word for freedom—if people can’t speak about freedom, they can hardly think of it either. Orwell has the philologist Syme explain it: “Don’t you see that the whole aim of Newspeak is to narrow the range of thought?” (p. 55) Newspeak meets the slogan “Ignorance is Strength”: The Party keeps its power by making it impossible to think of anything that opposes its ideology. The language has only been enriched by words having political meanings. The word goodthink, for example, means orthodoxy towards the Party. In order to bear the changing and destroying of the past, you either need to be stupid or to apply a technique called doublethink in Newspeak. That means to believe in two things excluding each other at the same time. The story gives an example where doublethink is needed: The day before the Party announced that the weekly chocolate ration had to be reduced from thirty to twenty grammes. Only one day later, the telescreen announces that there has been a demonstration to thank Big Brother for raising the chocolate ration. Winston can’t believe it, but the goodthinkers around him do, everyone in his own way: “Was it possible that they could swallow that, after only twenty-four hours? Yes, they swallowed it. Parsons swallowed it easily, with the stupidity of an animal. The eyeless creature at the other table swallowed it fanatically, passionately, with a furious desire to track down, denounce and vaporize anyone who should suggest that last week the ration had been thirty grammes. Syme, too—in some more complex way, involving doublethink—Syme swallowed it. Was he [Winston], then, alone in the possession of a memory?” (p. 61 f.)

Back at home, Winston writes his thoughts on society into his diary: “If there is any hope, it lies in the proles.” (p. 72) The proles are not influenced by the ideology of the Party. Since they are considered too stupid, the Party only expects a “primitive patriotism” (p. 75) from them. Winston writes: “Until they become conscious they will never rebel, and until after they have rebelled they cannot become conscious.” (p. 74) The masses of the proles could easily overthrow the regime of the Party, if they were mobilised. Winston thinks about the past. The Party says that everything is going better than in the past. That is easy to say because they changed the past as it suited them, and so nobody can compare the present with the past. Winston understands how the Party changes the past, but he does not understand the motive behind. “I do understand HOW: I do not understand WHY.” (p. 83) Suddenly knowing that he is addressing his diary to O’Brien, Winston is sure that he is right. If the Party should announce that two plus two make five and everyone else would believe it, he would not. “Freedom is the freedom to say that two plus two make four. If that is granted, all else follows.” (p. 84)

The next day Winston decides not to spend the evening at the Community Centre. Instead, he takes a walk to the quarters of the proles. To do any activity on your own, to have an ownlife, is dangerous. Winston asks an old man some questions about life before the Revolution, but that man only remembers some useless personal things which happened in that time. After that Winston goes to the shop of Mr Charrington, where he bought his diary and the pen to write into it. Mr Charrington shows Winston a room upstairs, which is to let. Winston knows that he will come back to the shop and even thinks of renting that room, since there is no telescreen. But then he sees the dark-haired girl in the street. You are not likely to meet a member of the Party by chance in the proles’ quarters. So he is pretty sure that she is a spy of the Thought Police. He thinks of smashing her head with a stone, but he does not feel fit enough to do so any more.

4.2 Part Two

Some days later, Winston meets the girl again in a corridor of the ministry. She falls down and Winston helps her up despite fearing her. During that short encounter she manages to pass him a note which says: “I love you.” Now they have to arrange a meeting without arousing any suspicion of the Thought Police. She tells him a place in the countryside where they can meet. The next Sunday they travel there, each one another way so that they cannot be suspected. They make love in a beautiful place in the forest. Winston learns that her name is Julia and that she is against the Party, too—not because the Party does not grant you freedom of thought, but because they do not allow you to have fun. As she explains it: “When you make love you’re using up energy; and afterwards you feel happy and don’t give a damn for anything. [. . . ] If you’re happy inside yourself, why should you get excited about Big Brother and the Three-Year Plans and the Two Minutes Hate and all the rest of their bloody rot?” (p. 139) Julia aims at cheating the Party by looking orthodox, whereas Winston would rather like the Party to be overthrown. But since he sees no chance for that and no future for him, he says: “We are the dead.” (p. 142) Julia, who enjoys life, answers: “We are not dead yet.” Although it is a great danger for him, Winston rents the room above Mr Charrington’s shop so that they can meet more frequently. Julia spoils him with real coffee and sugar, not synthetic one, which she bought on the black market. But their hiding-place is not perfect because Julia discovers a rat. It appears that Winston has a horror of rats.

One day at the ministry, O’Brien starts talking to Winston. Pretending that Winston might want to look into the new edition of the Newspeak dictionary, of which he owns a copy, he leaves him his address. Winston and Julia prepare to meet O’Brien. Despite knowing that they will be caught by the Thought Police and then tortured in the Ministry of Love, they agree that no torture could stop them being humans and loving each other. In O’Brien’s luxurious home, they are introduced into the Brotherhood. They promise to do everything they are demanded to do, but they are not ready to leave each other. O’Brien tells them that they won’t get to know many members of the Brotherhood, as the organisation is only held together by an indestructible idea. He warns them that they will have to get used to living without results. He repeats what Winston thinks: “We are the dead.” (p. 183) Winston shall receive a copy of the book, of Goldstein’s book.

Meanwhile there is a political change. Oceania is no longer at war with Eurasia. Eastasia is the new enemy. After one week of hard work for Winston and his colleagues, there is no record left which proves that Oceania once has been at war with Eurasia. Winston now has enough free time to read Goldstein’s book. He starts with the third chapter (“War is Peace”), where the meaning of that slogan is explained: The world has become split up into three super-powers of equal strength, none of whose can be conquered in a war. These powers have similar political systems, and they all keep fighting each other. In every society, there are the High, the Middle and the Low, which is further explained in the first chapter (“Ignorance is Strength”): “The aim of the High is to remain where they are. The aim of the Middle is to change places with the High. The aim of the Low, when they have an aim [. . . ] is to abolish all distinctions and create a society in which all men shall be equal. Thus throughout history a struggle which is the same in its main outlines recurs over and over again.” (p. 210) This movement was stopped by those people coming into power in the 1950s and 60s. In order to stay the leaders, the High (the Inner Party) enforced an unequal society. They froze progress, because if there were enough goods for everyone, the lower classes would get time to think instead of working throughout their life and realize that there is no need for the Party. However, the Party can prove that today people are better off than some years ago, because they change the records from the past and make contacts to the other world powers impossible. For two reasons the world powers established a continuous warfare: First, the war wastes all surplus industrial products in a reasonable way, and second, the consciousness of being in danger makes it easier to accept a ruling caste. The purpose of war is not to defeat another power, but to keep the own social structure intact. The result on foreign policy would be the same without any war. Each power is a ‘self-contained’ universe without any dangerous external influence. Therefore, war is peace.

Having read that chapter, Winston realizes that he learnt nothing new, but that the book only sums up his own thoughts in a systematic way. However, he continues reading. The chapter “Ignorance is Strength” explains how the Party ensures orthodox behaviour of its members. The Party is no hereditary organisation. It is only important that the Party stays in power, not, which people are actually ruling the country. The members of the Party have to share the same idea, and they are forced to do so by permanent surveillance. They learn some techniques helping them to behave in an orthodox way: These are called crimestop, blackwhite and doublethink in Newspeak. Crimestop is explained as “protective stupidity” (p. 221)—before commiting a thoughtcrime, you should be able to stop thinking. Blackwhite means that you should believe everything the Party orders, even that black is white, for example. Doublethink means that you are able to believe in two contradictory things. You should be aware that the past must be changed when necessary, but you must also believe in whatever is the new version of the past. You should be aware of the real purpose of war, but you should also believe that the war can be won. In spite of knowing that you are cheating your own mind by doublethink, you should believe that it is right to do so. Orwell has Winston stop reading when Goldstein asks for the reason, for the motive behind that. Winston has not learnt anything real new from this chapter either, but now he is sure that he is not mad.

Winston and Julia watch a prole woman. Winston thinks that the proles have remained human. They have do do hard work, but they are satisfied with their lives. They are not very intelligent, but they will survive. “We are the dead” (p. 230), he concludes. “We are the dead”, agrees Julia. “You are the dead”, says an iron voice behind them. It comes from a telescreen hidden behind a picture. They have been observed all the time, and now the Thought Police comes to arrest them.

4.3 Part Three

Winston wakes up in a cell—maybe in the Ministry of Love. He is surrounded by telescreens observing him: “ ‘Smith!’ yelled a voice from the telescreen. ‘6079 Smith W.! Hands out of pockets in the cells!’ ” (p. 238) He suffers—he has not had anything to eat for days, and there is always a bright light. Winston realizes that this is “the place where there is no darkness”, where he will meet O’Brien again. He is joined by some people he knows. Ampleforth, a poet, has been arrested because he could not find a replacement word for “God” when rewriting a poem of the past. Parsons, his neighbour, has committed thoughtcrime. He said “Down with Big Brother” in sleep, and his little daughter observed and denounced him. At last, O’Brien comes into the cell. Winston never knew whether he was a friend or an enemy, and now he realizes that O’Brien works for the Thought Police. However, Winston keeps believing that O’Brien doesn’t want to do any harm to him.

He is taken into another room, where they torture him. He is beaten up and humiliated in other ways, and he confesses even impossible things: “It was easier to confess everything and implicate everybody.” (p. 254) After that, O’Brien starts reshaping his mind. He is like a father or a good teacher—he wants the best for him: “Don’t worry, Winston; you are in my keeping. For seven years I have watched over you. Now the turning-point has come. I shall save you, I shall make you perfect.” (p. 256) He attaches an instrument to Winston which causes an adjustable pain in his back. He refers to the sentence Winston has written, that freedom means to say that two plus to make four. He holds up four fingers and asks Winston how many fingers he sees. At first, Winston says that he sees four fingers, even if the Party would order him to see five. He is tortured until he is not sure of what he sees any more and is ready to believe everything. O’Brien explains why Winston has to take these exercises in doublethink. He explains that the Party, instead of the ruling classes of the past, does not destroy heretics but reshapes them. “The command of the old despotisms was ‘Thou shalt not’. The command of the totalitarians was ‘Thou shalt’. Our command is ‘Thou art’.” (p. 267) The minds of the victims of the Thought Police are destroyed, until they people regret their ‘crimes’ and love Big Brother. In this final state they are ready to be shot without thinking of any rebellion. O’Brien tells Winston that he is going to destroy all human feelings within him: “We shall squeeze you empty, and then we shall fill you with ourselves.” (p. 269) Winston’s mind is symbolically emptied by an enormous light flash, and then O’Brien fills it up with the truths of he Party. Then Winston is allowed to ask questions and wants to know what happened to Julia. O’Brien says that she betrayed Winston immediately.

O’Brien points out that there are three stages in Winston’s re-integration: learning, under- standing and acceptance. Winston is ready to enter the second one. As Winston said once—he did understand how, but he did not understand why. Asked why the Party wants power, he thinks that he is supposed to say that the Party rules over people for their own good. O’Brien punishes him and explains, “The Party seeks power entirely for its own sake.” (p. 275) Whereas even the totalitarian regimes had a dream of some paradise, the Party just wants pure power. The members of the Party are parts of that eternal power and so make themselves immortal. Win- ston argues that the power of the Party will always be limited by the laws of nature. O’Brien explains that the Party defines the laws of nature: “What are the stars? They are bits of fire a few kilometres away. We could reach them if we wanted to. Or we could blot them out. [. . . ] We often find it convenient to assume that the earth goes round the sun and that the stars are millions upon millions of kilometres away. But what of it?” (p. 278) He describes the society of the future without any love between people except the love of Big Brother. “If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face—for ever.” (p. 280) Winston can’t agree: “It’s impossible to found a civilisation on fear and hatred and cruelty. It would commit suicide.” (p. 281) He believes in humanity, in the “spirit of Man” (p. 282). O’Brien tells him that, if he is a man, he is last one. Winston has to watch himself in the mirror and he is frightened by his “bowed, grey-coloured, skeleton-like” (p. 284) appearance. However, O’Brien agrees to Winston’s statement that they have degradated him in any possible way, but that he has not yet betrayed Julia.

During the next days Winston grows fatter again. He accepts what O’Brien taught him. He writes down: “FREEDOM IS SLAVERY — TWO AND TWO MAKE FIVE — GOD IS POWER” (p. 290). But he still has not worked out using crimestop. He dreams of Julia and cries for her. He still thinks that he is free when he dies hating the Party. So he is taken to the mysterious Room 101, about which he had heard many people talk. In Room 101 every victim is has to face with the worst thing in his life. O’Brien has brought a cage with rats and explains to Winston how they will spring into his face when he opens its door. In a horror, Winston cries, “Do it to Julia! Not me!” (p. 300) Now he has even betrayed his love.

After his re-integration Winston is sitting in the Chestnut Tree Café every day, the place where all former enemies of the Party spend the rest of their life. He meets Julia again, but they do not feel attracted to each other any more. Winston has been turned into a goodthinker: “He had won the victory over himself. He loved Big Brother.” (p. 311)

5 My Opinion

I was shocked by the novel, but I enjoyed reading it after all. I was somehow amused by the ironic descriptions of the first part on how careful you must be when you are living in a totalitarian state. I found the second part of the book was a charming love story. But I was most interested in, even impressed by the ideology of the Party which is explained in Goldstein’s book and in the third part of the novel. I recommend reading the book so that there won’t be such a society in future.

6 Comparison to other systems

I think that Orwell created a very realistic model of society. It can be compared to many other organisations and social systems—to totalitarian states as well as to other utopias.

6.1 Communism/Socialism

The Ingsoc Party is a pseudo-socialist party. So where the parties ruling the Soviet Union and the GDR. In contrast to the Party in “Nineteen Eighty-Four” they had a good aim, the classless society. This society should be eternal, too. According to Marx, communism is the last stage of human societies. The cruel dictatorship of the proletariat should only be temporary. Stalin, leader of the Party in the Soviet Union, might have inspired Orwell when creating the character of Big Brother. He wiped out many former members of the party, even friends like Trotsky, to achieve his own aims.

Especially the society of the GDR, which was created after the publication of “Nineteen Eighty-Four”, had parallels to Orwell’s society. The Berlin wall isolated the people from western countries. Many people were constantly observed. There was not a lot of plenty, and the economy was controlled by the state.

One should notice that the SED, like the Ingsoc Party, also claimed to have created great parts of the world in a symbolic way. The “Song of the Party” starts with the lines, “Sie [the party] hat uns alles gegeben, Sonne und Wind, und sie geizte nie.” For several reasons, the publication of “Nineteen Eighty-Four” was forbidden in the GDR.

6.2 The Third Reich

The Third Reich may directly have inspired Orwell. O’Brien tells of it as a good example of a totalitarian state. There was Hitler, the God-like “Führer”. The Nazis had more evil aims than the communists—to make the victory af the aryan race possible, the Jews had to be extinguished. The aryan race should rule the world for a long time; so the empire was called “Tausendjähriges Reich”.

People were partly observed, and enemies of the party were deported and even gasified. The state controlled the media—with the “Volksempfänger”, a cheap radio for the masses, there was an instrument like the telescreen, except that it could not observe you.

6.3 The Church

The Church did not establish a political system, but it can be compared to the Party as well. O’Brien takes the Church as an example of a non-hereditary organization which could survive for thousands of years through its idea.

In the middle ages, the Church had an education monopoly like the Party. The Church de- stroyed much of the knowledge of antique cultures, for example of the Romans and the Greek, until the renaissance. Even some time later, some laws of nature were still denied. The equiv- alent to thoughtcrime was heresy and the sin in general. Even today you can commit a sin by having bad thoughts. In the middle ages, heretics were tortured and then killed by the inquisi- tion.

6.4 Brave New World

Writing “Nineteen Eighty-Four”, George Orwell might have been inspired by the novel “Brave New World” by Aldous Huxley, which was published in 1932 and describes another utopian society.

The command “thou art” of the Party would suit the society in the new world even better. In the new world, there is no need to enforce an unequal society, since different types of men can easily be created by biotechnology. The children are taught in sleep what they need to know and how they must behave in society. Not by redefining the past, but by ‘conditioning’ children, the government creates truths: “Sixty-two thousand four hundred repetitions make one truth.”

Own thoughts and an ‘ownlife’, as it is called in “Nineteen Eighty-Four”, are not allowed. The people are instructed to take a tranquilizing drug called ‘soma’ whenever they feel like escaping from the rules of society.

The society in “Brave New World” is the result of many wars, too. The world is ruled by ten ‘World Controllers’, which are especially proud of the stability of society. “There was a choice between World Control and destruction”, they say, and they chose control and stability.

In the new world, the past is not actually destroyed, but it is considered unimportant, and old books are prohibited. As Henry Ford said, whom they respect as their god: “History is bunk.” Except for biotechnology, there is no progress. “Every change is a menace to stability. [. . . ] Even science must sometimes be treated as a possible enemy.”

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Orwell, George - 1984 - Book Report
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  • guest on 5/2/2002

    na endlich!.

    endlich ist hier mal ein richtig gutes referat. versteh nich, warum die andren so gut bewertet sind, wo die weder interpretationen, noch tiefgründige vergleiche und ananlysen, noch ein gutes englisch haben. is wirklich gut!

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