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Arbeit: GEORGE ORWELL: 1984 - NINETEEN EIGHTY-FOUR
"1984" was written by George Orwell and was published in the year 1948, just 3 years after the Second World War had ended.
1984 is a dark vision of the future in which the author describes how the power of a state could come to dominate people's life.
The story starts in the year 1984, and it takes place in England which is part of the country of Oceania, that consists of North America, South Africa and Australia. Oceania is one of the three totalitarian superpowers that rule the entire world.
The country is ruled by a government that calls itself 'The Party', and whose highest leader is a figure called 'Big Brother'. The administration is distributed among four Ministries:
Ministry of Truth - deals with news, entertainment, education and fine arts
Ministry of Love - maintains law and order
Ministry of Peace - wages war
Ministry of Plenty - handles economic affairs
The population of Oceania is separated into three parts:
1. The Inner Party (app. 2 % of the population)
2. The Outer Party (app. 18 % of the population)
3. The Proles (less educated people)
LIST OF CHARACTERS:
Winston Smith (Protagonist)
39 years old, ordinary member of the Outer Party, works in the Records Department of the Ministry of Truth.
He was born before World War II and so before the revolution which followed afterwards and which brought the rising of the party.
He is not particularly intelligent, but he has an inner courage, which gives him strength to rebel against the system and the Party of Oceania. He is also a sort of hero, because from the beginning he is aware of the danger and the fate that awaits him, if he continues with his actions against the Party (e.g. he starts as an act of revolution a love affair with an Outer Party member, which is strictly forbidden, and although he knows that this affair would be uncovered one day).
But he is also a bit naive.
Woman of 26, attractive, also member of the Outer Party, works in the Fiction Department of the Ministry of Truth, which produces cheap literature for the Proles, engages in a sexual relationship with Winston, had already a couple of love affairs.
Julia is a simple woman, who uses sex for fun as for rebellion. She loves Winston and like him, she hates the Party and she tries to break the rules where she can. But on the other side, she is perfectly willing to accept everything that the Party says and doesn't care much about it. If the Party says that black is white, fine. She only questions the teachings of the Party when they touch upon her own life. She is not interested in the Party's actions in general and she also doesn't thing of what will be in the future. She only wants to live as good as possible now.
High ranking Inner Party member, only member of the Party who Winston trusts, learns that Winston has rebellious tendencies and tells him that he is a member of a secret organisation called 'The Brotherhood', that is supposed to overthrow Big Brother, but which is in the end only a trap.
He has a great influence on Winston, who sees in him a friend, a teacher and also a father figure.
The most interesting fact about O'Brien is that the reader doesn't precisely know, if he is a friend or an enemy of Winston. Even Winston himself doesn't know that.. Before Winston's capture, O'Brien "helps" Winston to make contact with the Brotherhood. And after Winston's capture he gives him the feeling that he is somehow protecting him, but on the other side he is the one that tortures Winston in order to make him confess. He haunts Winston in his dreams and when he is awake and knows every movement and every thought of Winston. And he is the one who ultimately destroys him.
...is the mysterious all-seeing and all-knowing leader of the totalitarian society Winston lives in. He is like a god for the citizens of Oceania. However, he is never seen in person, he just appears on posters and on telescreens with the caption beneath that says: "BIG BROTHER IS WATCHING YOU".
He demands that the people obey him and devote all their life to him. They should love him even more than their families. But at the same time he spreads out fear and paranoia. His loyal followers are ready to betray anyone who seems to be against him.
Big Brother is not a real person. He just represents all the ideals of the Party. Orwell had several things in mind when he created him. For example, he could stand for the Russian leader Joseph Stalin or for the Nazi leader Adolf Hitler. So Big Brother stands for dictators everywhere.
To the Inner Party members he is not only a leader, but also a nightmare figure they can use to scare the people, and he also gives them the authority to do whatever they want. If anybody asks, they can say that they are under orders from Big Brother.
The plot has three main movements, corresponding to the division of the book in three parts.
The first part deals with the world of 1984, in which the totalitarian Party tries to control everything, even thought and emotion. All citizens are observed by telescreens which are placed in people's homes, in the streets and at their work, so that nothing remains undetected or private.
In this part the protagonist Winston Smith, who is upset about his current life, develops his first thoughts of rebellion.
The second part describes his meeting with Julia and the development of his love to her. Both achieve to establish a small and secret world of their own, where they can be themselves and forget their usual life for a while. In this part Winston also manages to come into contact with O'Brien, who seems to be a fellow rebel and member of the Brotherhood. He even helps the couple to join this organisation and to teach them its principles.
However, someday Julia and Winston are betrayed and both are separately imprisoned in the Ministry of Love, which is a rehabilitation center that uses torture and brainwashing to change people's minds until they correspond to the beliefs of the Party.
The third part of the novel deals with Winston's punishment and the brainwashing that is done to him to break his personality in order to destroy any revolutionary thought in him and make him believe everything that the Party says. Here he also finds out that O'Brien is not a member of the Brotherhood, but the chief inquisitor and Winston's main punisher.
Through the physical and psychological torture Winston slowly gives up everything he believed in, even his love to Julia.
Being no danger anymore, he is released back into the society and lives from now on a lonely and meaningless life as a puppet of the Party.
The main statement of the book is that we should defend our freedom! It warns people of handing over too much power to the government, by giving up some of their freedom and privacy in order to secure protection and safety in their country.
Freedom is one of the most important human rights and no authority or government should ever have the possibility to restrict it. Therefore we should also be aware that no political or religious propaganda gets over us.
As Benjamin Franklin said in 1759: "They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety." (like in this case the citizens in the book...)
Besides, in 1984's society you never think for yourself, you are constantly being told what to do and how to live your life. Nowadays, the media also tells us how to live and how to spend our money. So, we should be careful and watch out to keep our own mind and not let ourselves be manipulated by the media or by anyone else.