A Provocative Read
Nineteen Eighty-Four, by George Orwell, is a novel set in a Dystopian World War II era. In this imagination of a future from someone in the Ninteen forties, Oceania, where the novel takes place, is under a totalitarianistic rule. Big Brother, the dictator, is seldom, if never seen, and there exists three classes below him - the Inner Party (high ranking officials), Outer Party (Middle Class), and the Proles (proletarians, bottom class). Winston Smith, the protagonist, is a cynical historical record forger for the government. He despises his job, Big Brother, and also the totalitarian regime. One day, he happens to meet Julia, a revolutionary like him, and forming a forbidden (by the government) relationship, they rebel the government by night while working by day, maintaining their double life. I thought the book was very eruditely written, a masterpiece of George Orwell. Orwell's style conveys as much as there is needed to know, enough to grasp a solid, tangible picture of the scene going on, and then some in more opulent situations. He even manages to word feelings that humans have a hard time describing, using the momentum of the scene to convey these feelings, a remarkable feat. During the "Two Minute Hate", one of the events in Nineteen Eighty-Four, as a reader I could see the rancorous, primal, enmity that was going on in the scene. Orwell even manages to imbue what seems like his own political opinions and conclusions in the guise of a book written by Emmanuel Goldstein, one of the unseen characters of whom was ousted by the Inner Party and drenched in rancid propaganda who is rumored to be alive and operating a revolutionary group. Additionally, Orwell sets up situations so well, it's almost as if the reader can picture the grime on the walls of Winston's apartment, or the omniscient glare of the telescreens (one channel televisions that have camera and microphones to observe citizens). Another one of Orwell's strengths in writing is his ability to set in themes that run throughout the entire story. Themes of oppression, repression, lack of freedom, and also the manipulation of truth and power are evident throughout the entire story. Everywhere, from the Proles to the Inner Party, readers can see that their freedoms are limited - though the characters may choose what to do, they are severely limited in what they're allowed to think - any thought against the government is known as "Thought Crime", and according to Winston Smith, "Thought Crime doesn't entail death. Though Crime is death". Another major point of Orwell's tale is how the characters are set up. Winston Smith seems at first a bit contrived as one of the "only people sentient in the flock of people", yet still displays his own signs of originality such as his cynicality and original thoughts. I felt that Winston's actions are pretty justifiable, more than for the reason of the author demonstrating governmental brutality. Winston secretly despises the party, and therefore has his own thoughts, feelings, convictions. Having the tenacity to rebel against the government as openly and as dangerously as possible without getting himself killed takes a lot of guts. Moreover, he accepts the fact that he's already dead from the day he committed thoughtcrime, so he adopts a "all out" mentality. Julia's actions, however, aren't as independent as Winston's, or at least, as readers, we do not see how much more her personal life is besides her relationship with Winston. Though I would say her actions and mentality in rebelling with Winston are justifiable, readers do not really get to see her own independent thought or actions like they do Winston's. Overall, the things that I liked most about the book is the pacing and 'feel' of the book. There's a certain way the syntax moves so that as a reader, I can see the colorful language, and yet have no need to stop and think about any potential ambiguity. The reading of the book slides easily and smoothly, and the range of emotions felt is flawless and very real. When Winston felt enmity towards Big Brother, I felt like throwing a book or something at Big Brother. When Winston felt apprehensive, or nervous, I could understand the furtiveness he was feeling as he wrote his diary, also an action banned by the government. The book, overall, was a delightful, harrowing read that will thrill and challenge the minds of any sci-fi or retro enthusiast, or even mild horror enthusiasts.