“But it was all right, everything was all right, the struggle was finished,” reads the last page of George Orwell’s 1984. “He had won the victory over himself. He loved Big Brother.”
Orwell’s novel depicts the grotesque and seemingly myopic society that had accumulated in Britain circa “1984,” or what the audience is led to believe is 1984 as the protagonist of the novel actually considers this date to be potentially incorrect. Orwell depicts a nation overrun by a totalitarian regime which constantly tells its people that “Big Brother” (the personification of the states ideals) was watching.
“After World War II, generally speaking, people feared communism. With such an epidemic it seemed inevitable that the topic would be up for discussion,” junior Kevin Huynh said. “1984 is really a piece of the time.”
Orwell’s brilliance comes from the fact that the novel was the first of its kind at the time of its release, gradually gaining acclaim as each copy sold. However, the novel is a product of its time; that is to say, the Red Scare (a fear revolving around the spread of communist ideals within a Republic or Democratic State which reached its peak in the late ‘40s and ‘50s) greatly influenced Orwell, who so vividly describes a dystopian Britain that has fallen victim to the plague of such political turmoil and extremism.
Orwell conjures images of a land in which the phrase “each man is born with the right to life, liberty and happiness” cannot even be directly translated into the language of the time without being distorted by an implied political meaning which belonged to the words utilized. He creates a world in which no man is capable of escaping the government’s gaze even within the confines of his own living room. This is the world of the slave and the poet who has been deprived of his right to breathe life on the page.
As a result of Orwell’s influence, many major political party members have begun to utilize the phrase “Big Brother is watching” in order to discuss the government watching its citizens. The phrase itself has nearly become commonplace amongst the major political parties of the USA who have come to associate it with the government surveilling the populus with various devices (i.e. surveillance cameras, phone tapping, etc.). It doesn’t help that there have been cases such as Edward Snowden’s in which such accusations were confirmed.
In this regard, it would seem Orwell’s novel has come to be a sort of cautionary tale. The one issue that can be found with it is that it presents the extreme and those who use it as a political statement fail to recognize that the USA poses a very unique political climate which would not allow for communism in its present state. The nation’s people are too opinionated.
“It’s really interesting how Orwell used his novel as a scare tactic to promote anti-communist sentiments,” junior Julia Oldershaw said.
Its author also fails to recognize the fact that communism is only fostered in circumstances where the people of a nation have fallen beyond its lowest low (i.e. North Korea ). It’s also worth noting that Orwell’s novel was written in the ‘40s when the people of the world were falling victim to the Red Scare, which insinuated that communism would take over, granted the people never acted to fight against and more communist states arose (the Domino Effect).
“The government often infringes on the rights of its people, therefore, any and all discussion associated with the matter should be had,” junior Amanda Mulvaney said. “However, this does not validate the usage of using such an extreme plotline to our current situation.”
In extremes, great juxtaposition can be found, but the reality is that an accurate depiction of what is in store for the American people may be more readily found in a history book. Looking toward fiction is never the solution to any given political and or simply a real world problem.
Once again, it still stands that Orwell’s novel helps to stimulate the mindset that we should be granted the right to individuality in the sense that it speaks against the abuse of personal liberties, even those as simple as keeping a journal. However, it still stands that posing extreme political commentary may result in instilling fear rather than succeeding in conveying the idea that the government should not have the ability to be so present in our lives.
The issue of the government encroaching upon the people’s privacy should be open for discussion in any community or forum. The people would benefit more from learning their history and looking for parallels between the present and the past in order to fully grasp this particular epidemic. This would allow more people to become aware of such a topic.
In short, “1984” actually provides great platform for political discussion, yet it seems to lean more toward the discussion of extremism which only plays into irrational fear. A masterwork, perhaps, but most certainly not the greatest means of discussing such a prevalent issue.
Photo by Casey Chapter