All entries for Monday 04 October 2004
October 04, 2004
Nineteen eighty-four transcends literature. It is a book on political economy, metaphysics, human instinct, love, the lust for power, the meaning of life and complete totalitarianism. Ultimately, nineteen eighty-four is so beautifully constructed that it leaves the reader simultaneously appreciative with love of basic human emotion, the joy de vivre, and gripped with fear that in Orwell’s society there is no emotion. Only fear.
Protagonist Winston Smith’s fight for love with Julia, always juxtaposed against the fear and surveillance of the system encapsulated in the use of a paperweight as Winston’s metaphor for his life, elicits sympathy from the reader, who also wishes his yearning to make 2+2 equal 4, by joining the insurgent ‘Brotherhood’ succeeds. Is there a supernatural force of luck enabling the couple to escape the omniscient eyes of Big Brother’s telescreens? Does love conquer all? Will human nature inevitably rise up against oppression? Orwell pains to contrast the pure, instinctive joy of love and sex between the central characters against the cheerful indoctrination of the Outer Party and the rest of the proles – the mass of working-class uneducated humanity who Smith eventually pins his hopes upon. As the novel becomes more blackly satirical, the writer implies more and more questions. What’s the point of this system when even the inner party receive modest material gains? Will Smith’s uncanny connection with inner party member O’Brien lead to a successful revolt?
In the end, however, Orwell crushes all the inferred hope with the clinical omnipotence of the system. The insurgency is a trap set by Big Brother, O’Brien is a member of the Thought Police, Winston and Julia are arrested and the former is sent to Room 101 where his most unendurable fear forces him to abandon his love for Julia and kill all emotion in him, leaving his soul an empty casket to be filled in the propaganda of Big Brother and then vaporised and erased from the records. The system is based on a lust for power. War is used to exhaust material goods and keep the working-class subservient. Two plus does not equal five but equals whatever information the party gives. There is no freedom in death.
Orwell has created the ultimate oxymoron, the perfect dystopia.