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1984 Novel: Too Close for Comfort

Updated: Jan 31

The following arises from the new Summary and Expansion for George Orwell's timeless masterpiece, 1984.

Written in 1944, the novel entitled 1984 proved to be George Orwell’s most chilling prophecy. Timelier than ever, Orwell’s dystopian vision of a government that will do anything to control the narrative forms the basis of one of the world’s greatest novels.

Winston Smith toes the Party line, rewriting history to satisfy the Ministry of Truth's demands—a job similar to the one Orwell held with the BBC. With each falsehood that he writes and each truth that he buries, Winston grows to hate the Party that seeks power for its own sake and persecutes those who dare to commit thoughtcrimes against it. He starts to think for himself but can’t escape the fact that Big Brother is always watching and listening. Even thinking of writing a personal journal, or falling in love, is punishable by death.

Winston writes a journal and falls in love. Game on.

Winston challenges Big Brother’s Doublethink, which became crafted to brainwash the populous into submission.

WAR IS PEACE

FREEDOM IS SLAVERY

IGNORANCE IS STRENGTH

A stunning and haunting work that blessed us as a unique literary masterpiece, 1984 creates an imaginary world that is both convincing and unforgettable, from beginning to end. There is no denial of the novel’s hold on the imagination of entire generations or the influence of its warnings—a power that seems to gain strength, not lose it, with time.

Orwell’s 1984 rose to the top of best seller lists in late 2020 and 2021 because the world continues to evolve from the one which gave him his experiences and motives during the war towards one which matches his gloomy predictions in a most uncanny fashion.

After Orwell’s original text from the public domain, the second section infuses the reader with insight, encouraging the mastery of the lesson Orwell wanted us all to learn.



INTRODUCTION AND OVERVIEW

The atmosphere of 1984 reflects one of an unpleasant and oppressive dystopia. A world imagined in 1944 by journalist, author, broadcaster, and intellectual, George Orwell, proves to be too close for comfort to much of our world today. Orwell’s 1984 rose to the top of the best seller lists in the winter of 2021 after the Presidential election in the USA. One of the greatest novelists of all time, who preferred to call himself a journalist, informs the reader about one of the most important subjects of all time: the rise of Communism and Fascism to control individual lives.

Orwell envisioned the telescreen, a television-like device that views people secretly as they watch it. Today we have Barack Obama's version of the ubiquitous NSA, which spies on the average Joe without his permission.[1] Orwell also foresaw just three megastates, with similar philosophies and strategies for oppression, and fostering constant war. East-Asia boasts China and its satellite states; the Soviet Union anchors Eurasia; and Oceania contains the United States of America, the UK, and their allies. Are not China, Russia, and the USA at constant war, in one form or another, today?

Orwell's artistic creations for 1984 include "Newspeak," a dialectical and purposed English that the totalitarian government exploits to dissuade freedom of thought and debate. Newspeak seems to be the only language where the number of words decreases each year, reflecting reduced communication. Winston advises a colleague, the revolution will be complete when the language reaches perfection.


Nancy Pelosi and the American Democrats passed a bill in early 2021 eliminating gender-specific words and family words like "father and mother" and "son and daughter" from House discussions and statements—a blatant attack on the family under the guise of catering to LGBTQ issues.[2]

Orwell believed that a complex idea proved to be impossible to muster and store without words. To make hell look a bit rosier, Newspeak eradicated the term "awful," substituting it with the less-harsh term, "ungood." The word, "awful," existed no longer. The government could constrain the populous through language as well as with torture, imprisonment, and "vaporization."

Winston Smith represents the Outer Party. He works at the Records Department at the Ministry of Truth, rewriting and distorting history to suit Big Brother. Winston gains enough courage to start a journal for a psychological rebellion against Big Brother's tyranny -- an act punishable by death. Winston seeks to maintain his humanity in hopelessly inhumane conditions. Large telescreens affix themselves nearly everywhere to spy on him -- at his apartment, in his work cubicle, in the cafeteria, and even in the restroom stalls. His every movement earns scrutiny and recording. Only one spot in his room remains hidden—and that determined where he will write his journal.

One evening, in the compulsory Two Minutes Hate, Winston locks gaze with an interior Party member, O'Brien, whom he believes may be part of the Resistance called the Brotherhood. He also grabs the dark-haired girl's attention from the Fiction Department in the Ministry of Truth, whom he thinks will be his enemy and wants him vaporized. Her name: "Julia." After a few days of eye contact, she palms a note to him that reads, 'I love you."

Secretly and alone in the countryside, they make love and chat. They swear to fight the Party and Big Brother. Winston rents a room for future sex over the store where he bought his blank journal. Winston and Julia fall in love in a matter of months. While they understand their capture and punishment deems itself inevitable, they remain confident that the loyalty and love they feel for one another will neither end nor suffer destruction.

Winston and Julia are hustled by O'Brien, whom they believe to be a member of the underground but will eventually reveal himself as a spy for Big Brother. O'Brien arranges for Winston a copy of "the publication," the guidebook and manifesto purportedly compiled by the underground leader, Emmanuel Goldstein. This previous Big Brother allegedly turned rogue, earning his demonization as the ultimate enemy.

Winston reads the manifesto to Julia, but they hear a noise from behind a painting, where there lurks a telescreen. Thought Police storm their room and arrest them. Julia takes a punch in the solar plexus, the wind knocked out of her, and four men carry her off, upside down, each in charge of an appendage. It turns out that the shopkeeper who sold Winston his journal and rented out the room to him proves to serve also as a spy for Big Brother. Winston and Julia become separated.

Winston finds himself alone, located deep within the Ministry of Love, a type of jail without windows. In solitary confinement, he awaits in preparation for torture. O'Brien monitored Winston for seven years and means to break him into total submission to Big Brother, forcing Winston into giving up his forbidden love for Julia, his journal, and his quest for truth in memory and history.

In the next few months, O'Brien proceeds to torture Winston to modify his thoughts to include "Doublethink," the capacity to concurrently hold two different thoughts in the intellect and simultaneously consider them. Winston believes that your mind has to be free of charge, and also, to stay free of charge, you have to trust in a targeted fact, for example, 2 + 2 = 4. O’Brien desires Winston to insist 2 + 2 = 5. Winston remains stubborn, trying to hold onto to this most basic truth, which represents freedom.

Ultimately, O'Brien condemns Winston to Room 101, the location where offenders meet their worst nightmares. Winston's most poignant fear concerns rats. O'Brien puts a mask built from wire mesh and filled with rats above Winston's head and threatens to drop it onto Winston so the rats can bite his face. Winston yells, "Do it to Julia! Not me!" --relinquishing his final vestige of Humanity to the Party.

Months later, Winston sits permanently "modified" at the Chestnut Tree Café, observing the Telescreens filled with pain depicted on the front lines. Julia enters. She looks altered, appearing thicker, without make-up, of course, and not as attractive. She admits she betrayed him as he betrayed her. Any hint of love between them disappeared.

Winston sits as a broken man in no uncertain terms, forever in love with only Big Brother.




CONTROL OF THE MEDIA: HISTORY


Orwell experienced Franco's Fascist military rebellion. Although initially delighted with the idea of bringing Socialism to Spain, he soon came to realize that the socialist dream of an ideal life had no chance to survive the current political climate. Suffering a shot in the neck by a sniper didn’t help. Franco's dictatorship would lead to concentration camps, forced labor, and brutal forms of capital punishment. Falsely accused of participating in a pro-Fascist organization, an accusation which liberal media outlets readily accepted in Spain and England, Orwell penned the guts of his traumatic experiences and realizations into his novel, 1984. He details a propaganda machine called the Ministry of Truth, which constantly rewrites history to suit its political needs--exactly what Orwell experienced firsthand in Barcelona during World War II. Orwell reported only under severe content restrictions, rendering his work pure fiction and propaganda to please the British government, which greatly upset him. Protagonist Winston Smith becomes Orwell's avatar in 1984, tagged with a job description that includes extracting the truth from history and replacing it with Big Brother's falsehoods. One of Orwell's central themes revolves around the astounding exploitation of the ultimate duplicity of real versus false: called "doublespeak." Orwell argues that words dictate potential thoughts and feelings, and to control the people, a new language invents itself, "Newspeak." Real history itself becomes lost, replaced by a shifting chaos of party propaganda to the point that "2+2=5" when mustached Big Brother, who resembles Stalin in looks and behavior, wants it to be. A historical Lenin serves as the model for Big Brother's fictional arch-enemy, Emmanuel Goldstein, complete with a goatee.




SETTING


The Atlantic Islands, North and South America; Australia, the British Isles; and South Africa make up the gigantic state of Oceania, which forms the setting for 1984. Former England bears the name "Air Strip One." Eurasia shows that it is dominated by China.


The story plays out in London in 1984, a terrifying time and place where the human spirit and freedom have been squashed into near-oblivion. War, or the appearance of war, becomes inevitable, a daily given, forever—because it prevents advancement by the people. Protagonist Winston Smith entered the world before World War II and matured unloved and amidst constant political instability. Most frequently, his stomach gurgled on empty. His mother and sister went missing after he stole his sister's chocolate. The novel reflects Orwell's actual wartime experiences and knowledge regarding Spain, Germany, and the Soviet Union under Franco, Hitler, and Stalin as a most frustrated journalist. Orwell wanted to share the truth but found himself forced to share lies through the news media.


Transnational and heartless government policies of Communist and Fascist regimes during the war bore responsibility for food shortages and repression of the human spirit and freedoms. Stalin sold food to buy arms, letting his people starve. For disobedience or wanton and subjective persecution, imprisonment, torture, and executions were not uncommon. The family unit built on love and devotion became the state's enemy, which sought to replace them with its plan to demand loyalty. "Different people," unaccepting people, and "free thinkers" lived as if a red target adorned their backs.


A London setting invokes real memories of the war, connecting to millions of readers. People live like chickens in makeshift wooden shacks erected in clearings from bombings and struggle to find razor blades or a substantial meal.




POLITICAL STRUCTURE


Oceania's political infrastructure is one of three main divisions: the ruling class or Inner Party, which comprises only 2% of the population but holds nearly all of the wealth, the Outer Party, or trained or educated workers, up to 20% of the people, and the Proletariat or "Proles," the remainder which lives as an uneducated working class.


Orwell felt obligated to emphasize class distinctions' alleged evils and the arising conflicts and struggles as a socialist. In Stalin's Soviet Union and Hitler's Germany, the ruling class enjoyed a much higher standard of living, but in 1984, revolt seems hopelessly impossible. The wealth of a ruling class for a Communist country that claims to promote wealth equality becomes blatantly and morally absurd.




CHARACTERS


WINSTON SMITH


Winston, the novel's protagonist, doesn't care to be stripped of his freedoms. As a writer, he doesn't like history to undergo falsification and evolves into the Party's enemy. He wants to aid a rebellion and defeat the Party. He longs for good old-fashioned sex and love.


JULIA


The Fiction Department's dark-haired girl assumes the role of Winston's partner in crime and lover. Julia is against the Party's policies and laws, but just breaking a few rules satisfies her, like wearing make-up and making love for pleasure. She knows changing society is impossible. She is patterned after Orwell’s second wife.


O'BRIEN


A prominent but mysterious member of the Inner Party, really his enemy, O'Brien pretends to be Winston's ally. O'Brien transforms into the impetus for Winston's eventual indoctrination into the Party. A personification of the Party, O'Brien spouts Party philosophy like an expert.


BIG BROTHER


Big Brother leads the Party like a god. Patterned after Stalin, with the same "rugged handsomeness" and overbearing mustache, Big Brother proves to be everywhere, seems eternal, and wields all power but all in intangible ways. Winston doubts a "real" Big Brother exists, that he plays an iconic image conjured up to control the masses.


EMMANUEL GOLDSTEIN


The same type of origin and purpose could be said for Emmanuel Goldstein, the alleged leader of the Brotherhood. Orwell puts the reader in a state of perpetual ambiguity regarding the real existence of Goldstein. People hate more efficiently if they can associate it with a face with power. Goldstein's face is that face.


MR. CHARRINGTON


Mr. Charrington, the owner of the shop where Winston buys his diary and rents the room upstairs, exists not as a charismatic, older collector as he appears, but a younger and ruthless man in disguise who works for the Thought Police.


TOM PARSONS


Winston's neighbor, Tom Parsons, winds up in the Ministry of Love at the same time as Winston. Like some of the Hitler youth, Parson's children turned their father in for some infractions against the Party. Parson's fate: vaporization.


AMPLEFORTH


A poet-wannabe, Ampleforth works in the Ministry of Truth with Winston. His fate also lies in the dark bowels of the Ministry of Love.


[1] https://thehill.com/policy/national-security/343785-newly-declassified-memos-detail-extent-of-improper-obama-era-nsa [2] https://nypost.com/2021/01/01/house-rules-may-be-stripped-of-all-gender-references/





  • This annotated version ends with comments and analysis for each chapter. Orwell's original, full text comprises the first section.


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SCOTT CAMPBELL: AUTHOR/BLOGGER  REPUBLICAN  TRUMP BOOKS OBAMA BOOKS ANTI-COMMUNISM BOOKS  Los Angeles, CA

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