1984 by George Orwell, reviewed by Caleb Lawson

From Sparknotes.com

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.

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7 responses

  1. Caleb,

    I really enjoyed reading your review. You captured the theme present in “1984” and had a really solid and interesting introductory paragraph. I really enjoyed the way you introduced this novel with your word choices.

    Some suggestions I have for you to consider in future writings is that when you use quotation marks, the punctuation mark will fall inside the closing quotation mark. For example, “Down with Big Brother”, would actually be “Down with Big Brother,” since all punctuation will fall within the quotation marks.

    In this sentence, “When the government tries to start taking away our rights whose to say this isn’t next” I would suggest using a comma after the word “rights” to help separate your thoughts. You would also want to change the use of “whose” to “who’s” since you mean to say “who is to say this isn’t next.” “Whose” focuses on the possession of who or which. I also noticed that you would want to use a question mark since you want this to be a question instead of a statement. By using all of these suggestions, the sentence would end up looking like this: “When the government tries to start taking away our rights, who’s to say this isn’t next?”

    Overall, I really liked your review. You hit all of the solid points in “1984” and you were enthusiastic about the material you covered. Your introductory and concluding paragraphs were right on point and really drew me in for what you had to say. Great job and I look forward to reading your future works.

    1. Kellie,
      Thank you for your advice regarding my punctuation and my issue with homophones. I am usually very careful with my use of homophones. I don’t know what happened there. Mrs. Baisden has mentioned this on the rubric for the book reviews. Are there any tips you could give me regarding my punctuation? Again, thank you for the great advice.
      -Caleb Lawson

  2. Hi Caleb,

    Congrats on doing so well with this writing! I have actually never read this novel, but i feel as if I have a much better understanding of it after reading your writing. You used some really nice words such as “dystopian,” “protagonist” and “provisional” (just to name a few). Just for some advice, I would make sure that the previous paragraph introduces the idea of the next paragraph which is using transitions. Also, when using a quote, you should try to put at least one sentence in your own words after the quote. for example you say:
    Thoughtcrime was the worst crime that could be committed, thoughtcrime was a death sentence. “Thoughtcrime does not entail death: thoughtcrime IS death”. <– You should include another sentence here so that you don't have a dangling quote. It is kind of like having an unfinished thought.

    Also, I would just reread your writing out loud to yourself and see what you find. Maybe decrease the number of times you use the same word. Overall I am super proud of how well you wrote this. I am excited to see what you will write in the future. Keep up the good work!

    1. Christina,
      I would like to thank you for your wonderful advice. I can honestly say that I have never really noticed my problem with transition until I read your comment. After reading your comment I will try to use smoother transition between paragraph. Mrs. Baisden has mentioned transition on the rubric, but I never really noticed it until now. Is there any ideas that you could give me to help make my transitions between paragraphs smoother? Again, thank you for your advice.
      -Caleb Lawson

      1. Caleb,
        You are very welcome! I would say that try to have the last idea in your paragraph be someone of a preview of what you are going to be talking about next in your next paragraph. It does not have to be three or four sentences, but just some way to tie them together. Usually I just write my paper and go back and fix my transitions! Food for thought!

        Christina !

  3. Caleb,

    I really enjoyed your review! Your introduction paragraph really caught my attention and made me want to know more about the book! I would like to know more about why you like these aspects of the novel – not just what they are. I would also consider a little more depth with the setting and the characters paragraph. In setting, maybe add some visual details about Oceania. In characters, I would maybe talk about Julia as well (you mentioned her in the introduction, but never again throughout the review. Watch your transitions, look into finding an aspect of the novel that you could link throughout; that would make transitions smoother. I really liked that you tied the novel to what is happening with the government today in the conclusion! Overall, very good work.

    Keep it up,
    Jessica Kuhn

    1. Jessica,
      Thank you for commenting on another one of my posts. I believe you mentioned something similar in your last comment so now I know that this is a recurring problem. After having made two reviews with the same mistake I will try to pay more attention in my next post. As I said in my previous reply, Mrs. Baisden has mentioned this on the rubric. Again, thanks for the helpful advice and I hope to hear more from you again.
      -Caleb Lawson

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