When it comes to symbolism, 1984 is treasurer full of symbols, allusions, and hints. But what is symbolism in the first place? This is a literary device which is used to hide a meaningful abstract idea behind an object, person, or a place. Implicit or explicit, symbols convey additional messages of the writer and should be paid attention to. Especially, if we are talking about such an iconic literary work as 1984 by George Orwell. The book which has become a symbol itself can boast a great number of symbols which deal with the real social, behavioral, and economic problems of the 20th century. Vivid symbolism allows the writer to enhance the topics illustrated in the novel and highlight their significance.
The story is set in a mighty totalitarian country of the future where everything and everyone is controlled by the government on behalf of the Big Brother. He is a symbol and personification of the entire Inner Party and their unlimited strength. But, in fact, true leaders remain in shade and no one knows who rules the country. The principal character, Winston Smith, has found records where it’s shown that the posters with the Big Brother first appeared in 1930 before Winston was even born. This is a tip that this is an abstract image of the whole totalitarian ideology – deceitful, frightening, and ruthless. And the slogan BIG BROTHER IS WATCHING YOU indicates the amount of control it has over the people.
In the novel, this control is fulfilled through the usage of telescreens, special peepholes that allow the government to monitor activities of its people without fail. This symbolizes how advanced technology can be used to deprive people of their inner and outer freedom as well as individuality. The Party abuses technologies to reach their dark objectives – sounds familiar, doesn’t it? Exploitation of technological advancements by the state is the message which Orwell included into his every work trying to alert the society this hazard. There is no room for the freedom of expression or choice the socialistic society. And if a person tries to hide something, the Party views this as a treason which deserved a supreme penalty.
Deliberate weakening of people’s memories thought propaganda prevents most of the inhabitants from attempts to reveal what really happened in the past. But this doesn’t work with Winston. Despite working in the Ministry of Truth, or it’s better to say the Ministry of Lie and Propaganda, he aims at finding more about the lost order and the world he vaguely remembers. The glass paperweight is a symbol of an unaltered past and Winston’s intentions to understand what the life was like back then. But he soon finds out that it’s impossible as the history has been rewritten so many times that the truth is lost for good. When the Thought Police arrest Winston in his “secret” shelter, the glass paperweight shatters symbolizing the end of his hopes.