1984 Proves Relevant Years After Publication

by Fiona Higgins – Staff Reporter

In light of the recent political election, many people on both sides have accused the candidates of being Orwellian. What does that mean? Look no further than 1984, a novel written by George Orwell.
This book is required reading for AP Language students, but unlike many books similar to 1984 that students have to read in school, this one sticks out by how disturbing some of the subject matter can be. A dystopian book written in 1949, the actual story takes place in 1984 like the title implies. Orwell describes a world in which three governments have taken over the entire world and are all subjecting their citizens to similarly totalitarian styles of control. The main character, Winston, lives in Oceania, which encompasses both Americas, the British Isles, Australia and southern Africa. This government encourages people to live by the idea of Doublethink, which in turn allows the government to alter any information they want and the citizens will automatically believe it.
Coming from a post World War II Britain, some of the fears of government takeovers seems warranted, but the controlling policies of The Party, the new government, represent the worst of what could’ve been after the second World War.
More than being a slightly disconcerting required reading novel, though, Orwell’s ideas have given way to new terms that have worked their way into our vocabulary. Phrases like “Big Brother is watching” is a reference to this book, in that “Big Brother” is the supposed leader of The Party. Terms like “Thought Police” and “newspeak” originated from 1984 as well, talking about how The Party uses various manipulating methods to control the population with fear and lack of information.
Like many of the books read in English class, many judged it to be dull before even opening the cover. After all, we have grown up in a time where dystopian novels are starting to become extremely commonplace. However, this one is so twisted that you can’t help but pay attention to it. This is one of the oldest dystopian novels most of us have ever seen.
Whether you have already read it from the first semester of junior or sophomore year, or you have still yet to pick it up, the ideas presented in this book are certainly worth considering, even if the governments suggested are unlikely to happen. It certainly has produced many interesting discussions in class, and most of us will not be likely to forget it quickly.

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