A Study of George Orwell’s 1984 by Nandita Sharma
In a world which contradicts its own principles of morality in some form or the other (wars, political bullying, and economic instability) 1984 by George Orwell makes it more relevant than ever. It explores the undeniable power of thought by questioning the extent of suppression one could pose on the conscious.
Orwell, subtly but with much fervor sows the seed of hope in the reader’s mind in a dreadfully powerful narrative. Published in 1949, his dystopian vision of the future is set in London, now a part of the larger territory called Oceania in the year 1984. It is that of a controlled environment where nothing is private and everything is hidden as though it is all a part of larger secret conspiracy. It is a constant battle between the destruction of individualism and the instinct to fight back. It puts to test the will of our protagonist, Winston Smith, who is merely motivated by instinct and against the will of the party, and the Big Brother (the dictating force of Oceania) dares to believe what his senses perceive as reality.
It explores the possibility of alteration of thoughts and eventually, suppression and total submission of them. Once that is achieved, reality in itself is believed to be susceptible to alteration. Once told that red is orange and orange is pink, the basic characteristic that makes up the colour red and orange are changed. That is what The Party tries to and achieves over its citizens.
Winston begins a secret love affair with fellow party worker Julia, but soon discovers that the true price of freedom is betrayal. The concept of Freedom here, of course, is again challenged. It is not so much the freedom of thought but the freedom from the thought process itself that we find our protagonist struggling with. Hoping against hope becomes his biggest folly.
In Orwell’s depressing yet unarguably herculean narrative, he unfailingly pushes the reader to question his intellect and dwell on the possibility of the reach of the extension of thought. It evokes a kind of sad hope that puts to question the fundamental principles of society we as individuals adhere to.
It is unfortunately ironical how the describing characteristics of The Party in the book are a reflection of strikingly similar ideologies held by different groups in different parts of the world spreading not only terror and fear of life and physical loss, but of the belief in humanitarianism in our times. The symbolism that the face of The Big Brother embodies is that of finding comfort in and surrendering to a controlled chaos.
But it is not just the strikingly successful delineation of an ideology but the heart wrenchingly beautiful story that entitles the fate of Winston Smith, his lover Julia and their doomed attempt at freedom that holds the reader together till the very end.
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