1984 by George Orwell

19841984 by George Orwell
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

1984 Review

I don’t think many would like what I’m about to write but I have my own opinions and beliefs in human nature.

“Anything could be true.”

Yet another book where I felt completely conflicted with (i.e. with mixed emotions).

1984 is a story set in a dystopian or negative utopian world where society is divided into three: the Inner Party (High), the Outer Party (Mid), and the Proles (Low). This society has the most non-humane rules — rules that don’t allow individuality, desire, love, justice, and any emotion other than fear, rage, triumph, and self-abasement. Any thought that’s enough as a contrary would be considered as thoughtcrime, and party members who posses that thought would be taken away by the Thought Police. However, our main protagonist, Winston Smith, struggles in containing his emotions, hence continues the fall of humanity and the non-existence of objective reality and truth.

According to Erich Fromm, “Geogre Owell’s 1984 is the expression of a mood, and it is a warning (280).” He points out that the purpose of the novel is to warn us that the destruction of humanity is possible with the means and techniques we have today. It is for readers to reflect upon the question “can human nature be changed in such a way that man will forget his longing for freedom, for dignity, for integrity, for love—that is to say, can man forget that he is human?” He also compares 1984 to other negative utopian novels such as Zamyatin’s We and Huxley’s Brave New World, saying that they, too, have that essential question. And while I agree that 1984 produces a terrifying warning (which keeps me from completely disliking the book), I was, unfortunately, not convinced.

Despite of 1984’s many praises and growing popularity, me not being convinced has 2 reasons: (1) the flow of the story and (2) Orwell’s concept of dehumanization. First of all, I found 1984 really monotonous. The book is divided into three sections: the first, an introduction to Winston’s life; the next, a series of events of a love affair; and the last, the curing. And honestly I couldn’t bear myself finishing them if it wasn’t for the upcoming movie Equals. The flow was easily predictable given a rebellious character and a love affair—it was easy to know where everything was going, like I had it all mapped out. I can’t really argue since depriving society of their emotion is essentially the mood, but that’s exactly it: control of individual thought and memory. And while sections 1 & 2 were boring, section 3 was utterly contemptuous—I couldn’t agree more.

If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on human face—forever.

The espionage, the betrayals, the arrests, the tortures, the executions, the disappearances will never cease. It is a world of terror as much as a world of triumph. The more the Party if powerful, the less it will be tolerant; the weaker the opposition, the tighter the despotism.

You see, I don’t really have problems with dystopian worlds, but this one was utterly unrealistic and even idiotic. Maybe it’s just me, but I don’t really find his method of dehumanization convincing. On the contrary, Huxley’s Brave New World, which I liked by the way, depicts destruction of humanity through genetic engineering, brainwashing, and recreational sex and drugs, which I found erudite and interesting. It also depicts a society where all members are happy consumers, thus producing sustainability. With that, I appreciated the idea that emotion plays a big role in sustaining society, especially happiness, but 1984 is the complete opposite. It engages its society’s members into living with loyalty, terror, and power, and as much as I want to have an open mind, I just find this concept deniable because the human body and mind are intricately complex—we are made of hormones, neurons, reactors, and such that we can’t just be controlled and accessed. Although I consider 1984’s torture and brainwashing effective (for the time-being), I still don’t consider it long-lasting. And that’s just about my problem: I don’t find Orwell’s world convincing.

The fact that I disliked Orwell’s world so much it makes me agree that indeed 1984 is haunting and disturbing, yet I don’t consider a bit of it. Not at all. It’s a smart book alright, but it needs a little more creativity. Again, humans aren’t that simple.


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