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The current events on the global political arena induce one to think about the history in the middle of the 20th century with its totalitarianism and cult of personality. The control over all spheres of life, propaganda of fictional benefits, and allegiance to the idea and a leader became the main features of societies in Germany, Italy, Russia, and some other countries. Communities presented by their leaders as the patterns of happy life with equal possibilities, in fact, became the coexistence of individuals with the lost identity and the imposed ideas. In such context, the work of George Orwell Nineteen Eighty-Four (1949)is a type of warning for future generations to avoid totalitarianism in any type of its manifestation. The novel was written after the World War II and reflected not only the writer's prediction of further events in politics and social life. Based on the negative experience of Hitler's fascism and totalitarian regimes in Germany and Russia, the novel presented the fears of millions intellectuals worldwide. The writer was neither a prophet, nor did he pretend to be one. However, his work became the prophecy of further political and social changes supported by the lack of dignity and respect to humankind. Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four is the writer's foresight of the power of totalitarianism in providing the limitations of thoughts and actions through absolute control and ideological propaganda.
Historical Context of the Book
The novel by George Orwell Nineteen Eighty-Four was completed just several years after the World War II. In his work, Orwell does not directly touch the war or its consequences. However, he links the descriptions of destructions, poverty, total uncertainty, and fear to the Revolution in the history of Oceania (in fact, Russian revolution) and the war with two other states. The review of the history of Oceania before Revolution presents capitalism as the total evil with "dark, dirty, miserable" cities, few rich men with their chief the King, and "hundreds and thousands of poor people" roofless and bootless working hard for cruel masters for "stake breadcrusts and water" (Orwell, 1949, p.93). The conversation between the capitalist and an ordinary person is the description of real-life situations in Europe and Russia before revolution (Orwell, 1949, p.93).
The further division of the society into the members of the Party and the "proles" reflected the ideas of socialism in the Soviet Union. Orwell's proles were not exactly the working class of the Soviet Union, but reflected the status of those people who did not belong to the Communist Party, those who did not share the communistic ideas about the necessity of oppression and terror of minorities for the benefits of community. In contrast, the proles in Nineteen Eighty-Four are "not human beings", but "natural inferiors, who must be kept in subjection, like animals" working for the benefits of Party members (Orwell, 1949, p.91). They were not important for the Party and community. Their tasks were to "work and breed, their other activities were without importance" (Orwell, 1949, p.91). The writer makes an accent on the exaltation of the Party members similar to the exaltation of Hitler's Nazis and communists in Russia. Working for BBC, Orwell could evaluate the tendencies in these two communities (Rossi & Rodden, 2016). He had access to more information than any ordinary person. Orwell did not make a prediction, but analyzed the situation in the Germany and Russia before, during, and after wartime.
The after-war period became the time when the leaders of "great" states had a significant political and economical impact on the global arena. Uncertainty and new understanding of safety became the major public affairs of the time. Postwar depression created the psychological tension among the citizens and resulted in the permanent feeling of fear (Rajathurai, 2017). "A sense of complete helplessness has descended" Orwell's characters (Orwell, 1949, p.10). Lost in time and limited in space, they did not know the date and even year as well as experienced only "locked loneliness in which one had to live" (Orwell, 1949, p.23). On the other hand, victory gin available for every party member, victory cigarettes as benefits for good citizens, victory reports on telescreens made the illusion of some social benefits. Moreover, the allusion to the victory in the World War created conditions favorable for establishment of charismatic leaders who made the attempts to implement strong central power. Later, such governments presented by the oppressive single party controlled and directed all aspects of the citizens life through coercion and repressions ("Totalitarianism," 2009).
The book's three super powers, Oceania, Eastasia, and Eurasia, stand for the three super states, which ruled the world after the war - Russia, Great Britain, and the USA ("1984," 2013). The background war of Oceania with other states in writer's view is the Cold War between the governments of Marshal Stalin, the US President Roosevelt, and British Prime Minister Churchill. The superpowers are always at war safely kept on the periphery of the blocs. The ruling elite of each country uses the perpetual war system to affect the totalitarian collectivism among the citizens (Rothbard, 2013). They are not the followers of great idea, but the bureaucrats and managers who seek for personal benefits.
Totalitarianism and the Cult of Personality
The introduction of the Party leader in Oceania as Big Brother is the link to cult of personality in prewar Germany. Besides, Orwell saw the birth of such cult in prewar Russia that developed even more greatly after the wartime. Orwell's fictional society was eerily reminiscent of Hitler's fascism and Russian Stalinism. Regimes, which theoretically permitted individual freedom, in fact, sought to subordinate all aspects of an individuals life to the authority of the government with charismatic leader. Orwell's Big Brother had characteristics similar to the physical attributes of both leaders. Moreover, he tells about the pictures of the leader everywhere in the streets, on the walls of buildings, and on banners similar to the propaganda of Stalinism. "Big Brother is watching you," wrote Orwell in his novel, describing a real situation in Russia under Stalin's leadership. He presents the leader of the state and the overlords of the future not democrats or demagogues, but bureaucrats and managers. Totalitarian hierarchy of managers governs Orwell's Oceania. In his novel, totalitarianism is not a theoretical threat based on the common idea, but the thought-out means to control the masses for the sake of authorities.
The writer introduces the details of totalitarianism such as the telescreens, which monitored every person in every moment of his/her life, rationing, limitations regarding language and relationships. In fictional Oceania, the Thought Police monitors the party members with the help of microphones in the trees and walls, spies in the streets, and denunciations. Children of Oceania became the members of the Spies organization. "Ungovernable little savages with no tendency to rebel the discipline of the Party," they yell slogans, worship Big Brother and denounce their parents to Thought Police for various thoughtcrimes (similar to Pioneer Movement in Russia) (Orwell, 1949, p.31). The development of communism in Russia also included the work of spies, agents, and administrations. Vaporization of people became a usual event for London citizens as well as the terror of the Great Purge in the 1930s in Russia ("Totalitarianism," 2009). Killings and repressions resulted in deaths of millions Russian citizens. Orwell describes night arrests of people of Oceania who "simply disappear during the night time,... from the registers, records," from life (Orwell, 1949, p.24). The repetition of slogans and pseudo benefits, limited information, rewritten history, and "Two Minutes Hate" are very similar to the methods applied by communists in Russia. Goldstein's book is very similar to the Marxist Theory, and it also proclaims the future for "proles". However, all the ideology is following the rules and patterns with "orthodoxy" obedience. Totalitarianism denies any freedoms as Orwell claims throughout his novel.
The Limitations of Humanism and Freedoms
Orwell exaggerates some aspects of the totalitarian regime. He presents the Party's consideration of "proles" as creatures equal to animals (Orwell, 1949, p.92). Besides, even the Party members are only the subjects of the regimes impact. Though the Party's influence on the thoughts of its members is overestimated by the writer, Orwell shows the desire of the Party leaders to have an impact not only on the actions of its members, but also their language, emotions, and thoughts. The Newspeak language created by the government is the means to limit the expression of thoughts and emotions. The Newspeak was "destroying the words," which could not serve the goals of the Party (Orwell, 1949, p. 65). The real task of such destruction was to exclude the language patterns different from those expressed by the Party leaders in relation to the Party's ideology, work, and daily routine. Syme, a specialist in Newspeak, tells that the vocabulary gets smaller every year and "the whole aim of Newspeak is to narrow the range of thought" and make thoughtcrime impossible (Orwell, 1949, p.67). He sees only the final goal of his work and does not mind the impact of the language destruction on the thinking abilities and skills. Orwell's satirical "Minitrue," "Miniluv", "plusgood", and "duckspeak" emphasize the writer's critique of such interruption. The protagonist Winston also "has no real appreciation of Newspeak" and keeps thinking in traditional language "with all its vagueness and its useless shades of meaning" (Orwell, 1949, p.66).
Doublethink is another invention of the Big Brother related to language. "Doublethink means the power of holding two contradictory beliefs in one's mind simultaneously and accepting both of them," says Orwell's character (Orwell, 1949, p.270). In fact, it is the opportunity to explain the same word or phrase with different meanings and one more way to reduce the number of words in language. Besides, it is the manipulation of the language and a means to interpret the information in suitable way for the Party and its leaders (Lutz, 1989). "War is piece. Freedom is slavery. Ignorance is strength" became the major slogans of the Party expressed in doublethink way (Orwell, 1949 p.6). Doublethinking is the only right way of thinking for a Party member.
The understanding of freedom is one of the major writer's messages to the readers. According to Orwell, "freedom is the freedom to say that two plus two make four" (Orwell, 1949 p.103). Writer's personal experience showed the power of true information and the importance of possibilities of free expressions (Rossi & Rodden, 2016). The characters of Nineteen Eighty-Four were limited in such opportunities. The Party infringed their freedoms in acting, speaking, making a choice, and feeling. Strict rules and schedules, language changes, and total monitoring denied any type of liberty. Orthodoxy as one of the major concepts "means no thinking, not needing to think," jut following the orders of Big Brother (Orwell, 1949, p.68). The limitations touch every aspect of life including interpersonal relationships. The Party considered marriage as the agreement between two people with the organized purpose "to beget children for the service of party" (Orwell, 1949, p.84). Sex is the means of procreation, the duty to the Party with the lack of pleasure and desire (Orwell 1949, p.85). The sexual act successfully performed was a rebellion, the desire - a thoughtcrime, and eroticism was the enemy (Orwell, 1949, pp.83, 86). Orwell's thoughtcrimes are, in fact, the individual's attempts to dare free thinking and feeling. A free love of the protagonist to Julia resulted in the tragic event and the total loss of his identity. The Party stopped Winston's attempt to live but not exist and made him a little part of "something huge and terrible - a steel machine" (Orwell, 1949, p.94).
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We provide direct communication between you and the assigned writer, which is highly encouraged
The only thing that is left for you to do is click the “Download a File” button so that you can finally get your hands on your final paper.
Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell is a warning message that teaches to avoid being held in the paws of anti-democratic leaders. The writer shows political manipulations and intervention into the life of people for the establishment of absolute power. He pays a great attention to the means used to ensure the control such as technologies, rationing, history, language adaptation, and fear. The leaders of totalitarian systems are not the democrats, but overlords seeking for personal benefits. Totalitarianism is a total fear, total limitations, and total control. Totalitarian freedom is slavery. In the context of current events, Nineteen Eighty-Four is a message to the current generation to avoid unthinking.
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