Nineteen Eighty-Four

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Nineteen Eighty-Four is a novel written by George Orwell in 1948. The main character is Winston Smith, who lives in Oceania, under the rule of The Party and Big Brother. He becomes friends with the character O'Brien. He also falls in love with Julia, who hates Big Brother and The Party.

Winston's job is to change or rectify printed news stories and articles. No one in Oceania can look at the old changes. They are not allowed to even think about them again, or else they will be in big trouble. This is called thoughtcrime. Thoughtcrime and Facecrime are punished by death. Another thing they are trying to do is cut all the hard words out of the English language. They are changing it to make it more simple so that people will not be too clever or think too much. They are not allowed to have families. Other people who live on the outside of the system have more freedoms. They are called proles. There is an endless war going on with another nation, Eurasia. In other parts of the world, large wars are being fought to keep the people busy. The sides in the wars sometimes change. When this happens, they pretend there was no change and that the sides were always the same. This means that all the articles will have to be changed by people like Winston who are not supposed to think about what they are doing. When news is rectified, the old copies are destroyed.

Political satire[change | edit source]

Orwell got the idea for the book when he saw in the newspapers of London that they listed how much the country's supplies increased (more supplies) during World War II when they were actually very low on supplies and were getting smaller. With his knowledge of communism after living in the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics for five years, he started writing a political satire of the possible condition of Britain in 50 years. He wrote the book over several years, finishing, mostly in Jura, Scotland. At last he sent the manuscript to his publishers in December 1948.[1][2]

The book was not an attack on socialism, which Orwell supported, but on communism. He once wrote

"Every line of serious work that I have written since 1936 has been written, directly or indirectly, against totalitarianism and for democratic socialism, as I understand it".[3]

Later he repeated that idea, writing about 1984

as a show-up of the perversions . . . which have already been partly realized in Communism and Fascism [4]

Ending[change | edit source]

At the end of Nineteen-Eighty Four, Winston is taken to the "Ministry of Love". This is the prison of Oceania. While he is there, he is tortured and constantly watched by four telescreens, which he can not escape from. The only place he is safe is in his own mind. Soon he loses control over it as well. At the start he thought that O'Brien was an ally (friend) against the Party. This is not true because O'Brien is his questioner. He thinks O'Brien betrayed him. So that he is not executed, Winston must answer many questions. He also worried about the bond (agreement) of love he made with Julia. He is not sure if she betrayed him or not. In the end, Winston is faced with his worst fear: a cage filled with rats, which can eat his face. He then breaks down (stops fighting). He dies as only another member of the Party.

Details[change | edit source]

Details of the Endless War:

  • Date: early 1970s–present
  • Location: North Africa
  • Fighters: Oceania, Eurasia, and Eastasia.

Newspeak[change | edit source]

Newspeak is a fictional (not real) language that appears in the book Nineteen Eighty-Four. It is the official language of Oceania. At the end of his book, George Orwell described Newspeak. It started out as the English language, but the number of words gets smaller each year. The Party are trying to stop people from rebelling, so it destroys words like "freedom" and "love", saying that people can not think of it if there is no word for it. In the society, this is supposed to prevent thoughtcrime, which is thinking against the Party, or thinking about the past. For example, a person could not say "I want to be free", because there was no word for "free" any more, so the person could not describe what he or she was feeling. At the time, it was supposed to make fun of politically correct[source?] speech, and "thoughtcrime" made fun of censorship. "Newspeak" is also used for military reasons, such as Oceania's Ministry of Peace (in Newspeak: "Minipax"), really the war department. Words like "Peace", "Truth", "Love", and "Plenty" were used in Newspeak a lot to mean their exact opposites. Another "Newspeak" word, joycamp, means "forced labor camp". Other "Newspeak" words were used for political reasons. Words like "crimethink" were defined by the "Party", and became laws of the land.

Reception[change | edit source]

Book magazine ranked the character of Big Brother as #59 on its "100 Best Characters in Fiction Since 1900" list[5].

Related pages[change | edit source]

References[change | edit source]

  1. Bowker, p. 383, 399.
  2. Charles' George Orwell Links
  3. "Why I Write" (1946) in The Collected Essays, Journalism and Letters of George Orwell Volume 1 - An Age Like This 1920–1940 p.23 (Penguin)
  4. The Collected Essays, Journalism and Letters of George Orwell Volume 4 - In Front of Your Nose 1945–1950 p.546 (Penguin)
  5. "NPR: 100 Best Characters in Fiction Since 1900". NPR.org. http://www.npr.org/programs/totn/features/2002/mar/020319.characters.html. Retrieved 2008-11-02.
  • Aubrey, Crispin & Chilton, Paul (Eds). (1983). Nineteen Eighty-Four in 1984: Autonomy, Control & Communication. London: Comedia. ISBN 0-906890-42-X.
  • Hillegas, Mark R. (1967). The Future As Nightmare: H.G. Wells and the Anti-Utopians. Southern Illinois University Press. ISBN 0-8093-0676-X
  • Howe, Irving (Ed.). (1983). 1984 Revisited: Totalitarianism In Our Century. New York: Harper Row. ISBN 0-06-080660-5.
  • Orwell, George (1949). Nineteen Eighty-Four. A novel. London: Secker & Warburg.[1]
  • Orwell, George (1949). Nineteen Eighty-Four. A novel. New York: Harcourt, Brace & Co.[2]
  • Orwell, George (1977 (reissue)). 1984. Erich Fromm (Foreword). Signet Classics. ISBN 0451524934.
  • Orwell, George (2003 (Centennial edition)). Nineteen Eighty-Four. Thomas Pynchon (Foreword); Erich Fromm (Afterword). Plume. ISBN 0452284236.
Afterword by Erich Fromm (1961)., pp. 324–337.
Orwell's text has a "Selected Bibliography", pp. 338–9; the foreword and the afterword each contain further references.
The Plume edition is an authorized reprint of a hardcover edition published by Harcourt, Inc.
The Plume edition is also published in a Signet edition. The copyright page says this, but the Signet ed. does not have the Pynchon forward.
Copyright is explicitly extended to digital and any other means.
  • Orwell, George. 1984 (Vietnamese edition), translation by Đặng Phương-Nghi, French preface by Bertrand Latour ISBN 0-9774224-5-3.
  • Shelden, Michael. (1991). Orwell — The Authorised Biography. London: Heinemann. ISBN 0-434-69517-3
  • Smith, David & Mosher, Michael. (1984). Orwell for Beginners. London: Writers and Readers Publishing Cooperative. ISBN 0-86316-066-2
  • Steinhoff, William R. (1975). George Orwell and the Origins of 1984. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press. ISBN 0472874004.(bibrec)
  • Tuccille, Jerome. (1975). Who's Afraid of 1984? The case for optimism in looking ahead to the 1980s. New York: Arlington House. ISBN 0-87000-308-9.
  • West, W. J. The Larger Evils – Nineteen Eighty-Four, the truth behind the satire. Edinburgh: Canongate Press. 1992. ISBN 0-86241-382-6

Other websites[change | edit source]