I have just finished the first book on my list and I gotta say…it was a definitely a brain stretcher.
Nineteen Eight-Four was written by George Orwell. He is also know for his famous allegorical novel Animal Farm. Nineteen Eight-Four was published in June 1949. It has had a huge impact on our culture and society, with several of the themes and words used now a part of everyday life. The term “Big Brother’ is now synonymous with the government and its monitoring of its citizens. I knew a bit about the novel before I read it but I cannot deny that the story, as well as the ending did come as a surprise to me. I will say as always that this does contain spoilers so please give the book a read if you don’t want any part ruined.
Nineteen Eighty-Four centres around Winston Smith, a Party member who works in the Ministry of Truth doctoring newspapers to reflect the history that the Party wishes the world to know. Winston lives in Oceana, one of three main countries that the world is separated into. He is constantly watched and must conform to every aspect of what the Party determines to be correct behaviour. Citizens are monitored through tele-screens and are routinely vaporised if there is even a hint of irregularity, often referred to as “Thought Crime”. Winston becomes involved in a forbidden love affair with a young women named Julia, with whom he shares his doubt in the Party and its mysterious overlord “Big Brother” Eventually Winston and Julia are discovered and Winston is tortured and brainwashed into understanding that there is no fighting Big Brother. The novel ends with Winston accepting Big Brother and confessing that he loves him, proving that all free thought has been stamped out of him.
The thing that really struck me most in this novel was how blasé the characters in the book seemed to be about the terrible things going on around them. Winston would think about people who had only just moments before been blown up by a rocket bomb with indifference. This made me think about how our own society turns a blind eye to some of the terrible things going on in the world. Often people just block out what happens to people because “ well what can I do?” this is becoming a dangerous practice for many people and lead to self centred individuals who care nothing for the suffering of others.
One aspect which really shocked me was that while I was reading was that I was building up Winston as a hero and was waiting for the moment when he would start to over throw the Party and maybe take down Big Brother, but that moment never came. The ending was bleak and depressing, hammering in the idea that it’s too hard for one person to fight against the government, and that in the end you can trust no one but yourself. Winston is left as a shell of the person he once was, and the reader is left with the harrowing knowledge that no rebellion was coming for the people of this world and that within a few generations the people would be nothing more than drones that kept the world moving, and that at some point history would stand still, as there would be no new developments, no new ideas or thoughts.
I definitely recommend this book, though maybe not one if you need to be cheered up. I recommend following this book with a good hard think about the world around you. You never know, may find that you want read a newspaper to catch up on current events, or find out more about your privacy and freedom of speech rights. What ever you do, don’t forget to keep your eyes and ears open for any sign that this book could become a tome of prophecy rather than a work of fiction, because once something grows too big, nothing can stop it.
Thanks for reading guys,