Big Brother Is Watching You: My Thoughts on ‘1984’

This is a classic example of a book that needs to be read at least twice, nay thrice, for the sheer brilliance of it to fully sink in. To be able to create such a complex future out of words on paper, that was nearly half a century away, was a daunting task for Orwell, given the time he was writing in. And it is a testament to his incredible imagination. After reading ‘Never Let Me Go’, I was aching to get my hands on another novel of a similar genre. However, the feelings that ‘1984’ instilled in me, a complete three sixty degree turn to Ishiguro’s novel, can be summed up in one little word: depression.

Dystopia has never been described so accurately as it has been in ‘1984’. Through his observations of the Second World War and the subsequent totalitarianism established by both socialist and communist regimes, Orwell creates a world that is, quite frankly, terrifying to think about. What makes such a future even more frightening is the fact that it hits close to home, especially in the twenty-first century. After reading this book, I can see quite clearly how easy it is for those who have too much power to manipulate and mould it in shapes that suit their own needs. ‘1984’ creates a world that no one wants to live in, a world dominated by Big Brother, The Thought Police, and the Two Minute Hate. All these elements strip the characters of their ability to think independently, especially when there is little left to distinguish reality from the realms of imagination.

Photo by: Nimra Imran. The title and authors name have been censored by the publishers to create a more significant impact that Orwell wanted his readers to experience.

Orwell forces us to think beyond the bigger picture, the dangers and consequences of handing one individual an endless amount of power and control over the lives of billion. Given the world we live in today, its not surprising to see why this book shakes up the conscience of a reader. In addition to that, ‘1984’ is a book that just keeps on giving, as never have I been more mesmerised by an author’s use of lexis; Orwell is the master of alteration. He employs it an unconventional manner but the effect is astonishing; we can see how even the slightest alteration in language can completely change the thoughts of an individual. His use of adjectives adds to this style of writing, and echoes Orwell’s own statement that ‘simplification of language affects the mind and its ability to think objectively’.

One of the aspects that stand out and make this book utterly terrifying is the measure to which control is exercised. Every aspect of life from eating and drinking to thinking and decision-making can be detected by the State. In fact, even the children are encouraged to report any acts of disobedience; and they are not afraid to betray their own families to the authorities. Orwell explores entirely new aspects of human nature in this novel, for example, the curious relationship between Winston and Julia. Together they make an unstoppable force of nature, one an intellectual weapon and the other a complete ‘rebel’ in the eyes of the State. However, the phrase ‘strength in numbers’ has never made more sense, as we see how upon separation, both characters recede into the shells that house their fragile and beaten souls. Shells that are too impotent to make a stand against the Party.

Additionally, Orwell highlights in ‘1984’ his conceptualisation of human emotions. The evolution of emotion, and how someone can control it in themselves and in others, is displayed through an intricate and astonishing style of prose. Orwell is a master artist, painting his empty canvas with words that show how its possible to eradicate love, plant the seeds of hatred and induce false respect while also instilling control. At this point I could feel the depression and cold realisation creeping up my spine in small shivers. Every single concept of control inducing surveillance described in this book makes sense to me as a reader, because it is a concept that we now see in our world on some level. As haunting as the idea seems, one of the reasons why readers of the twenty-first century can relate to ‘1984’ is due to the fact that every aspect that Orwell talks about is related to our world in one way or another.

Upon the climax of this book, it never ceases to be the case that ‘1984’ is an exemplary piece of dystopian fiction, not matter how depressing. The totalitarian regime showcased in this novel make all the tyrants in our history that look like amateurs. It forces the reader to think about the past and the future in a new light. Control, in the hands of one individual, is a recipe for a world that is a nightmare dressed like a fictional concept that no one stops to comprehend until it is far too late. ‘1984’ scared and depressed me unlike any other piece of fiction I have read, but it has also given me one the most rewarding experiences that literature has to offer. Orwell’s pure literary and creative genius reminds me why we need such element of fiction in our lives. The complexity of the future that he has created leaves me in awe, respect and fear. How does one carry on with the monotony of life after coming down from a high that authors like him have to offer with literary masterpieces such as ‘1984’? I’ll let you know when I find the answer…

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10 Comments Add yours

    1. nimraimran16 says:

      Thank you 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  1. noplaradio says:

    loved what you said about Orwell’s use of language and word choice. one of the most interesting experiences I’ve ever had was trying to get through a French translation of 1984 and fully feeling the effects of the shape of a language on our thought patterns and understandings. Fittingly I don’t really know how to put that in words. anyways, you’ve made me want to go back and re-read it again! it’s been a while…

    Liked by 2 people

    1. nimraimran16 says:

      Thank you so much! I’m glad you enjoyed my review! It’s definitely one of my favourite books, even thought at the beginning I didn’t think I would like it! His use of language was one of the first things that really stood out for me! Please let me know if you have any other book recommendations 🙂

      Like

  2. iamkaja0 says:

    Hi Nimra, really enjoyed this post – mostly for the fact that ‘1984’ is one of my all-time favourite books. It is incredible how many details one picks up on when reading it twice over, and it is indeed the only book I have ever read twice.
    I’m quite glad you picked up on Winston and Julia’s relationship in the way that you did; I was quite disappointed with how it all ended.
    Sadly though, as fantastic an author that Orwell is, I find that disappointing endings are a bit of a recurring theme – ‘Coming Up For Air’ left me feeling a bit disappointed too, so to speak, but in a different way to ‘1984’. This one is so frighteningly relatable, especially in the 21st century, which is why I totally agree with you in that it is super impressive for Orwell to have conjured up this dystopian vision such a long time ago!
    Very enjoyable post, thanks for sharing 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. nimraimran16 says:

      Thank you Kaja! I’m glad I wasn’t the only one disappointed with how some aspects of the novel ended, but even then I wasn’t able to dislike the novel, it left a lasting impression on me.
      I have to say though, I haven’t gotten around to reading any of his other works yet. But after reading 1984 again, I really want to read more of his work, and I think i’ll start with the books you mentioned once I get a chance. But I’m really glad you liked the review and thank you so much for reading. Let me know if there are any other books you’ve read that you can recommend for me 🙂 x

      Like

  3. plantingwildflowers says:

    Sounds like a book worth reading. Definitely adding this to me reading list

    Like

    1. nimraimran16 says:

      It is definitely a book that we should all read at least once! Please let me know your thoughts on it once you get a chance to read it 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. plantingwildflowers says:

        I will!

        Like

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