Big Brother is Watching
A Review of 1984 by George Orwell
By Julia A. Keirns
What can I possibly say about “1984” that hasn’t already been said? Written in 1949 by George Orwell, this book centers on the all-powerful, all-knowing government controlling who we are, what we do, what we say and even what we think, which in reality, is not so far-fetched.
Right off the bat on page one you begin to wonder when it says, “the clocks were striking thirteen…in preparation for Hate Week.” I underlined tons of stuff in this book as I was reading it. It drew me in and was so intriguing I couldn’t put it down. The government — Ministry of Truth, Ministry of Peace, Ministry of Love and Ministry of Plenty — controlled everything the people did. They were being watched and listened to all the time, even in their homes. Winston begins to question the authority and overreaching powers of the government because “Big Brother is always watching and listening.” They (those in power) were trying to eliminate free thinking and history. They would simply rewrite history to say what they wanted it to say so that it reflected what they wanted the people to know and believe.
Winston gets ahold of a diary and an actual pen and begins to write down his own personal thoughts — which if discovered will get him killed. Throughout the book, he learns and writes in his diary giving us a glimpse into this world. There are three states — Oceania, Eastasia and Eurasia, which have all been in constant conflict with each other since the nuclear war, or have they?
“Reports and records of all kinds, newspapers, books, pamphlets, films, soundtracks, photographs — all had to be rectified at lighting speed…so that no reference to either the war or alliance with Eastasia should remain in existence anywhere (paraphrased).”
He also figures that if he writes an event down, then he will know that it actually happened. Because at some point in the future, that event is bound to disappear and there will be no proof anywhere that it ever happened. If there is no proof in history, then it does not or did not ever exist. He then also begins a forbidden love affair with Julia. Marriages were arranged and true love was forbidden. The book continues and ends with Winston finally being discovered and stifled. Just as others had disappeared, he too would simply disappear and be erased from memory and history. But it is not the end. Others will come after Winston and they too will discover, until eventually the government is the one that is stifled. You have to have hope in the end, that it is not over, and that everyone along the way plays a part in the process, no matter how small the part.
Reading this book made me stop and think about what the government knows and does today that we the people do not know about. I bet it would shock most of us. This is a great dystopia book written with an imagination that is not so far off after all. I recommend you add this book to your list of classics to read before you die and find out for yourself why everyone says it is a great read.