Perhaps the most legendary dystopian novel of the previous century, 1984 is a masterful attempt to enlighten the readers about the dangers any totalitarian ideology hides within itself. George Orwell wrote his literary masterpiece after one of the most devastating massacres in history – World War II. He personally witnessed all the atrocities committed by the Nazis being the military correspondent for BBC in the fascist Spain. This book was finished in 1949, four years after the war finally ended while his memories were still fresh. It’s a mirror that reflects the frightening consequences governmental abuse of power as well as nuclear advancements may have. Most of the notorious ideas presented in 1984 aren’t fictitious. In fact, Orwell didn’t have to exploit his imagination to elaborate the philosophy of Oceania, a totalitarian country where main events take place. This is a combination of two most terrifying political regimes in the 20th century – Soviet Union with its communism and Nazi Germany.
They are both characterized by the usage of fear and mass executions as a principal tool of control. The Inner Party, which is a direct allusion to the Communist Party in the USSR, reigns in Oceania enjoying a political hegemony. By means of manipulation, media propaganda, changing the past, and permanent mass surveillance, the whole population of the country is dominated by the authority. These methods bear a striking resemblance to the means applied by Nazis and Soviets to their own people.
Ironically, their main political establishments are the Ministries of Truth, Love, Plenty, and Peace. Everything the writer witnessed at war – propaganda, elimination of personal freedom, starvation, exhausting labor, and executions – is what these bureaus are actually in charge of despite their names. The Inner Party alters the past as they please which gives them the possibility to determine the future. Yet, the most frightening thing about this futuristic world is an absolute domination of the government over behavior and thoughts of every single person.
Newspeak is another way to control the way society thinks. This is a new artificial language with specially created words eliminate any possibility of disobedience. In this novel, person’s every move is monitored by special devices called telescreens. They carefully inspect if there aren’t any signs of disagreement or betrayal of the principal governmental philosophy – “War is Peace, Freedom is Slavery, Ignorance is Strength”. And people are constantly reminded about perpetual surveillance by numerous depictions of their half-mythical leader, the infamous Big Brother. This is a symbolic figure that unites traits of two dictators, Stalin and Hitler, to show that in their core all tyrants have the same aim – to dominate. And the main motto of the whole Party, “Big Brother is watching you”, has already become a synonym for those who abuse their political power and violate human rights.