George Orwell’s 1984 Word Count: 2,500 (10 pages) I. Introduction George Orwell’s fascinating novel 1984 deals with a wide range of issues that are ultimately ones to which everyone can relate who has been involved in politics: the criticism of totalitarian ideals; the deliberate distortion of history; the psychological and physical control of a nation’s citizens; the ideas of “Big Brother,” the “Thought Police,” and INGSOC; and the nature of the main characters and their overall contribution to the novel…
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People are not allowed to speak freely—in the press or otherwise—because they are afraid of retribution. This is in direct contrast to the United States, where freedom of speech is built into the First Amendment of the Constitution, the founding document upon which U.S. ideals are based. Totalitarian governments don’t want people to think, live, or do anything without the government’s approval. For example, Communist China only allows one child per family. So, even the means of reproduction is controlled in that country, simply because it gives the government power over even peoples’ private sex lives. Not only this, but the government can claim that it is instituting such a law to have one child per family due to “the ecology” or some other such reason. This is not the true reason why leaders do not want the Chinese people empowered by having many children. China thinks that by controlling the fact that even these poor citizens of their own country cannot have intimate relations without worrying that the government might execute their child—puts them in a state of continual fear. This persistent fear that people would wake up to also include the fear that someone is watching them all the time who may have a higher place in the government than is originally known. That happens a lot in 1984. People are not whom they seem, and there are several shifting sands in this book, leading one to believe that one cannot always blindly accept the simple platitudes of what appears to be reality. Not only this, but Orwell warned against the dangers of giving leaders totalitarian power. One of the ways that this was achieved was that the so-called ‘winners’ in history would completely and most convincingly erase history. They would do this by incinerating any documents that would show proof of any kind of wrongdoing by the government. Thus, the government’s actions could only be analyzed through the narrow view it had of itself—which was that it was basically a perfect entity, at least, according to its own records. This is the position in which poor Winston Smith finds himself. He works for the Ministry of Truth (Minitrue), and finds himself having the task of ‘revising’ history. What is interesting is that Winston starts realizing, as an Outer Party flunky, that the Inner Party is using him as a tool to help manipulate information control so that the top 2% can remain at the top. This reflects something similar which is going on at the Occupy Wall Street protests all over the globe and in riots in the UK, Africa, and the Middle East—people are realizing that their power comes from taking back their history, and seeing history as it really is and was as opposed to how it might be or should have been. This leads us to our next topic, which has to do with historical revisionism and its evils. III. The Deliberate Distortion of History The deliberate distortion of history is what Winston was in charge of doing. The novel 1984 depicts how detrimental history can be when it is written through the lens of the people who were on the winning side of
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