Winston Smith is a low-ranking member of the ruling Party in London, in the nation of Oceania. Everywhere Winston goes, even his own home, the Party watches him through telescreens: everywhere he looks he sees the face of the Party’s seemingly omniscient leader, a figure known only as Big Brother. The Party controls everything in Oceania, even the people’s history and language. Currently, the Party is forcing the implementation of an invented language called Ingsoc, which attempts to prevent political rebellion by eliminating all words related to it. Even thinking rebellious thoughts is illegal. Such thought crime is, in fact, the worst of all crimes.
Imagine a world where everything, even your thoughts, is controlled by a corrupt government known only as “The Party.” In George Orwell’s classic novel, 1984, this is the state of the world. This novel tells the story of Winston Smith, Julia, and their forbidden love. In 1984, everything the society thinks, does, and says is filtered by The Party. While this novel was probably one of my favorite novels I’ve ever read, my three favorite aspects of it was the setting, the characters, and the vocabulary.
The setting of the novel is a dystopian society in the year 1984. Though the year 1984 is long gone, this book was written in 1949, making this book set in the future. Though it was set in the future, society has made little or no progress. The world consists of three nations: Eurasia, Eastasia, and Oceania. Winston, the protagonist, lives in the nation of Oceania with a leader known as “Big Brother.” Big Brother controls the entire society. Oceania is in an ongoing war with one of the other nations. Who they are at war with is constantly changing, despite what Big Brother says. In Oceania, the society has to believe whatever they are told. If The Party told you “Two plus two equals five, you would have to believe it.”
The second aspect of the book that I would like to talk about is the characters. The protagonist was Winston Smith. Winston hated The Party, Big Brother, and anything related to them. “Down with Big Brother,” he would say. However, even the thinking of anything “unorthodox” was a crime, a “thoughtcrime.” Thoughtcrime was the worst crime that could be committed, thoughtcrime was a death sentence. “Thoughtcrime does not entail death: thoughtcrime IS death”.
My favorite aspect of the book was the vocabulary. The vocabulary was based on a form of speaking known as “New Speak.” New Speak had been invented to “meet the ideological needs of Ingsoc, or English Socialism. New Speak was created to make the act of crimethought virtually impossible. Once New Speak was fully adopted and Old Speak forgotten it would have been impossible to think anything unorthodox. The version in use in the year 1984 and the Tenth Edition of the New Speak Dictionary was merely a provisional one.
Overall, I really enjoyed the book and may have found a new favorite novel. I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys dystopian novels or political satire. This book is something that should be kept in mind, especially with the state the government is in now. When the government tries to start taking away our rights, who’s to say this isn’t next. George Orwell’s nightmarish vision of the world we are becoming is timelier than ever. With the use of an interesting setting, relatable characters, and unique vocabulary, this book has definitely become a timeless classic.