Tag Archives: George Orwell

Nineteen Eighty-Four (1984)

nineteen-eighty-four-1984-2

Story in short:

The story of Nineteen Eighty-Four is set up in Oceania and unfolds around the life of its protagonist Winston. He is a part of the dystopian society where no such thing as free-will exist and every action of every person part of the state has to be in accordance with the will of the government. The society is fragmented into three parts. The inner party is the one who works for the government whose sole aim is to work for the achievement of the purpose of the government. The proles are the lower class who constitute a large portion of the population and are not cared for by the government. The third being the inner party which supposedly works secretly and is rebellious.

Winston is working for the government where his task is to examine the articles and news carefully and change them suitably in the favor of the government so as to record them in history.  Everything that is against the government is stashed away as it never existed. People who betray the government in one way or the other are ostracized as if they never existed – the termed unperson is used for this. The people are under the constant observation of the telescreen and they have been just reduced to a condition where they can not do or think logically. For them, whatever the party does is supreme.

Orwell has described the dystopian society and the life of people in the first hundred pages. Since it is written in the third person without much conversation taking place between people, it is excruciating to go through it. Most of the times we are just reading Winston’s monolog without anything interesting event taking place to take forth the story.

The story takes a turn when Winston meets Julia who works in another department in Winton’s office. There begins their clandestine affair which paces up the story a little bit. Julia seems to be an intelligible woman and they both get with each other very well. The one thread that sews them together is their mutual hatred for the party. In times where even thinking against the party is a thoughtcrime, love blossoms in their hatred.

The love-affair was going very smooth until one day when Winston meets an Inner Party member O’Brian. O’Brian promises to induct Winston into the inner party league so that they can work secretly to overthrow the government. This, however, turns out to be a farce and Winston along with Julia is captured by the thought police soon after. The rest of the story is just about Winston and Julia are separated, about how they are tortured till the extent they forget their own existence. Where they meet in the end or not? Whether the rebellion against the government was successful or not? You will have to pick the book to find out the answer to these questions.

The Good:

George Orwell has successfully depicted how a dystopian future would resemble like. How would life be when all your rights are taken away from you? How would you act and react if the language is reduced to a few words where you can not even express yourself? The times when each and every action of yours is under constant surveillance and even thinking against the government is a crime. It is when all the past has been re-written and you remember nothing about it.

Could Have Been Better:

The novel is too descriptive with more conversation happening in the mind of the character and very less with the outside world. We may consider this to be the disadvantage of living in a dystopian era. Still, I would have preferred a bit less of description or perhaps the perspective of few more characters could have been involved in the story telling. The story does become interesting as and when new characters are introduced in the book but it becomes repetitive when they take forward the story for a long a time.

The book requires a lot of patience to be finished but if you have it, there are a number of remarkable quotes and descriptions that will surely amaze you.

Rating – 3/5

Perhaps one did not want to be love so much as to be understood.

“She was very young, he thought, she still expected something from life, she did not understand that to push an inconvenient person over a cliff solves nothing.”

Animal Farm

Animal Farm

The world as we all see is just a distorted image reflected through the mirage of our perception. So the quest to view the events occurring around you through another perspective is what makes one read more and more. In my attempt to read musings of George Orwell, I zeroed upon Animal Farm. It was not someone’s suggestion but merely the less number of pages that prompted my to pick it up. The expectations, thus, were not much. However, as I progressed through the book, the story got hold of my attention. The beauty of this book is that though it is said to be a political satire it never picks up any actual political figures to convey its message. Even if you are narrating it to a five-year-old kid, it would still be as gripping as it is to a political science student.

The book begins when the animals in the Manor Farm are grappling with the negligence of their owner and the talks of rebellion are circulating among the animals. After days of deliberate effort by the dedicated animals, the rebellion does take place and Mr. Jones Manor is thrown away from the farm. The animals, as they wished,  thus become the sole owner of the farm.  Like any nation that gets freedom after grappling with the dominant opposing forces, the animals, too start to set up some rules (constitution in our language) which each of them would abide by. The rules that let them govern without any malice and any inequality towards each other.  They call it the 7 principals of animalism- which makes sure their rights are well taken care of.

It has been rightly said, power corrupts. As the time progresses, animals also change their way of living. The pigs who are the intelligent creatures take charge of the governing of the Animal Farm and slowly start engaging into malpractices.  Just the way each regime changes its colors once they come to power. The leaders who once fought for oppression start oppressing once in the regime. Amidst all this, the heroes have turned villains through propaganda. Napoleon, the pig, who fought bravely when Mr. Manor made a failed attempt recapture the farm is treated as a traitor. Little does people realize that the minute behavioral change taking place each day sums up to a drastic change in attitude in the long term. Animals forget the principals of animalism and the laws are tweaked to suit the pigs in power.  Slowly, chaos takes over the farm but no one has the courage to raise a voice against the rulers because by now they have been habituated to live under fear and tyranny. The story of the animal farm by the end comes back to square one.

George Orwell has wonderfully carved out each character of the novel and they reflect the different types of people existing in the society – from the ones who doesn’t bother about political change to the ones who believe their work is supreme no matter what, from the ones who feels something wrong in happening in society but never raise a voice to the one who starts to gel with the people in power. At many instances, you would simply be dazzled by the wonderful character and story build up by the author. The book though written in 1945, holds relevant in today’s time. You can relate each and every scenario described in the book with the contemporary politics and the political parties and it would hold true.

If you are interested in politics of the nation, are curious to know how narratives are built by political parties, how smallest of the decision matters in the long term then I would highly recommend this book to you.

There are a number of thought provoking as well as amusing quotes throughout the book, however the following indeed makes you think twice about the meaning it conveys.

“Several of them would have protested if they could have found the right arguments.”

Rating – 5/5