Nineteen Eighty-Four, a then futuristic novel published in 1949 by English writer George Orwell. The events in novel takes place in 1984, a era in which most of the population is living under fear of constant and prolonged warfare, despotic government and economic chaos. It is a dystopian, political and social science fiction which takes us to the world we only can imagine of.
A story starts with a mystic accent of a ‘PARTY’ which seems to be the only force controlling the affairs in Oceania (the then name of Great Britain superstate). Party is working under the principal guidelines of Ingsoc, which is some kind of totalitarian and authoritarian mindset. Party uses four ministries to rule, namely –
Ministry of Peace (deals with war and peace)
Ministry of Plenty (deals with economic affairs)
Ministry of Love (deals with law and order)
Ministry of Truth (deals with news, entertainment, education and art).
Country is divided in three major classes, namely –
Inner party members
Outer party members
Proles (most exploited class).
World in 1984 had three superstates – Oceania, Eastasia and Eurasia. They were in constant warfare with one another for remaining unconquered part of the world – Tangier, Brazzaville, Darwin, and Hong Kong. None of the three had ambition to conquer other because all knew that it was impossible to conquer other superstate.
Winston Smith (protagonist of novel) is a citizen of Oceanic and works in Ministry of Truth. As time passes, he comes across with heavy-handed policies of Party, such as revising historical records, erasing existence of persons killed by Party and evil practices like ‘vaporizing’. Even thinking wrong about party leader ‘The Big Brother’ was considered as formidable crime. And to avoid such thought crime, ‘Thouth Police’ were appointed under Ministery of Love. Constant surveillance through devices such as Telescreens was also a part of daily life. Live together, love someone, talking secretly, holding meetings were punishable crimes. People captured by thought police were taken to the Ministry of Love and no one heard of them again.
Winston starts feeling wrong about the system of governance and secretly opposes party’s rule. Without committing any crime, he realizes that he is already a ‘thoughtcriminal’ and likely to be caught one day.
Meanwhile he comes in contact with a girl named Julia. She is also an antagonist of party’s dominance but don’t want to do anything about it. He fall in love with her and get involved in sexual relations which are illegal. They starts meeting at a place owned by Mr Charrington in proles area. Winston suspects that his superior, an inner party member O’Brien, is a secret agent of an underground resistance movement known as Brotherhood, a group formed by Big Brother’s rival politician Emmanuel Goldstein. They meet him and agrees to work for Brotherhood.
One day they were reading a book on Brotherhood (given by O’Brien) at their secret place in proles area. Suddenly Thought Police comes and captures them. Turns out that O’Brien and Mr Charrington were officials of thought police. Winston and Julia were separated from each other and taken to the Ministery of Love.
O’Brien, a person with whom Winston shared his thoughts, a person whom he trusted over his life, had betrayed him and was appointed as a party member to torture Winston. Torture in Ministry of Love was a horror. They tied him for days in a cell which had no windows. They made him confess every crime he committed and also those which he didn’t. They took him to room 101, where he was forced to face the worst fear he ever had so that he can betray Julia. They made him love Big Brother forcefully and made him to give up the thoughts of rebellion. Winston knew that one day he will get a bullet in his head, all he wanted was to end the pain as early as possible. But what happened was totally opposite to what he imagined. He was released.
Party made him a member of Inner Party. His mind was tortured such a way that he will never think of rebellion again. Now he is just a emotionless working machine, perfectly as party wanted. They also released Julia. Winston and Julia met sometimes but they had no courage left to speak. A strong oppositions, emotional heart, courage to love, thought of rebellion which Winston once had in possession were long gone. What left was a machine which was following the orders of Party and a person who was forced to love ‘The Big Brother’.
1984 ranks among the most terrifying novels ever written. George Orwell gives us the nightmarish vision of a totalitarian, authoritarian, bureaucratic world and one poor stiff’s attempt to find individuality. I personally liked this book and will give it four stars out of five. Please let me know your opinions on the book. Comment if you want to know more. Thank you.