1984 by George Orwell
Orwell’s harrowing classic novel based on political totalitarian rule follows the life of Winston Smith, a citizen in Oceania who inwardly wishes to rebel against his Party’s controlled dystopian society and its strive for power.
“Power is in tearing human minds to pieces and putting them together again in new shapes of your own choosing”
Winston is forced to live in a somewhat manufactured and manipulated society, where books are written by machines, past records of events are altered, and no independent thinking is allowed, dubbed as ‘thoughtcrime’. All citizens are expected to speak and act in accordance with the Party’s ruling ideologies and authority.
The Party control people by instilling fear, through the constant surveillance of its citizens by the personification of itself as ‘Big Brother’. Telescreens are installed in every room, Thought Police roam the streets, and children are trained as spies in order to detect the slightest signs of rebellion.
Rebels against the Party then eventually end up in Room 101, a torture chamber where they are subjected to their own worst fears in order to break down their resistance.
This chamber is located within the Ministry of Love, with the Ministry of Peace concerning itself with war, the Ministry of Plenty with rations, and the Ministry of Truth with propaganda. These are deliberately named and associated with ‘doublethink’, a part of the language of newspeak invented by the Party where two mutually contradictory beliefs are seen as correct, a method used by the Party to brainwash its citizens. It also uses the following three slogans which are mentioned several times throughout the novel:
War is peace
Ignorance is strength
Freedom is slavery
Without this review turning into an essay, I will let you know my general thoughts about the writing itself, which at times really did feel like reading one! Large sections of the novel were extracts from ‘The Book’, which in my opinion could have been shortened to simplify the point, yet Orwell’s political style of writing meant each slogan made by The Party could be understood in detail, and the readers own thoughts towards them formed in order to relate to Winston’s reasons for rebellion.
I also found it quite frightening how a Party is able to control its citizens, making them conform to an ideology which is greater than themselves and not allowing them to express themselves in any way, they are all mere cogs in a machine which is solely concerned with gaining more power.
Overall, an interesting and scary read which is bound to make you question things!
My Goodreads rating: 3/5*