Boekverslag: Nineteen Eighty-Four
In the story, the world in the year 1984 is divided into three new large countries, Oceania, Eurasia and Eastasia.
Winston Smith works for the Ministry of Truth. His job is to change history in order to make it fit into the ruling political ideas. He is very good at this. There is just one problem: he himself forgot how it used to be in earlier years. He gets a strong homesickness to the past. The rulers of Oceania where Winston works for have a thought-police and they monitor every thought so they?re sure that everybody agrees with the Party. Winston doesn?t really agree with the Party?s ideas, so he writes everything down in his diary. Having your own personal diary is also a crime, because you are not supposed to be a individual. One day Winston goes to the Two-Minute hate. Every Party member has to be present at the Two Minutes Hate. After the Two Minutes Hate Big Brother comes on the telescreen with the three mottoes of the Party: War is peace, Freedom is Slavery and Ignorance is strength.
At the Two Minutes Hate, on which they can let out all the hatred against the soul-enemy of the Party?s leader, he sees a girl and a man, from whom he thinks the belong to the resistance. He thinks that the girl is actually from the thought-police. Later on when Winston goes downtown to the proles-area. The proles have no civil rights and are left alone by the thought-police. He walks through the proles area and he sees a small shop. He goes in and this man shows him a room which makes Winston think about how things used to be.
The girl he saw at the Two Minutes Hate follows him and he still thinks she?s with the thought-police. Then she trips and puts a note in his hand. It reads: ?I love you?.
Winston gets a book from O?Brien, the man he met at the Two Minutes Hate, it is a book from the resistance. One day Winston and the girl are in the room above the antique shop in the proles area, and they are reading this book. At that very moment the thought police comes in and arrests them. O?Brien was with the thought police and he wrote the resistance book himself. Winston and the girl are taken to the Ministry of Love. There they are tortured. In the end they send Winston to room 101, where he must face his biggest fear. He breaks and confesses, he betrays his girlfriend. When he is released, he knows that he really the Party.
Who is the narrator of the story?
The novel 1984 is narrated in the third person, through a point-of-view character, Winston Smith. This means that Winston functions as the camera recording all the events. We see, hear and learn only what Winston can see, hear and learn, as it happens. We can see into Winston's thoughts and share his dreams and memories, but we see the other characters only as Winston sees them. We can't know anything Winston doesn't know, but since we are outside Winston's story, we can look at it and see danger when he doesn't
"The paperweight was the room he was in, and the coral was Julia's life and his own, fixed in a sort of eternity at the heart of the crystal."
When and where?
The story is taking place in the year 1984 , in what we call London. But in 1984 it is called ?Airstrip one?. He lives in a country called ?Oceania?. But the year isn?t exactly 1984, it could have been any year in the future, because, it is science fiction. It is hard to say what year or what setting the story actually is in.
The story is told in a continuos chronological way, apart from some example which refer to the past. In the first few chapters, foreshadowing is employed when Winston sees O'Brien. From a simple glance from O'Brien, Winston interprets that he has seen him commit thought crimes through the telescreen, and that he seeks contact with him. From a different kind of glance from Julia he believes she works for The Thought Police. He was wrong in both cases.
Structure of the story
The book can simply divided into three parts and a appendix. In part one everything is told from a third-person view. Which is very practical, because you can learn about all the special things in the story, like the telescreen for instance. In this part it is particularly shown that Winston is beginning to have some negative feelings about Big Brother?s vision , but is still under heavy influence of the party?s ideas.
"Winston had disliked her from the very first moment of seeing her. He knew the reason. It was because of the atmosphere of hockey-fields and cold baths and community hikes and general clean-mindedness which she managed to carry about her. He disliked nearly all woman, and especially the young and pretty ones, who were the most bigoted adherents of the party, the swallowers of slogans, the amateur spies and nosers-out of unorthodoxy"
The second part describes Winston as he meets Julia and he gains hope for a better future. He also makes contact with people he thinks are connected to the brotherhood. This part is actually to politically motivated.
"I'm going to get hold of a real woman's frock from somewhere and wear it instead of these bloody trousers. I'll wear silk stockings and high-heeled shoes! In this room I'm going to be a woman, not a Party comrade."
And : "Until they become conscious they will never rebel, and until after they have rebelled they cannot become conscious."
And the third part describes the torture Winston and Julia must undergo when apprehended by O?Brien. It describes the brainwashing and the collapsing of Winston, as his betrayal of Julia.
"You have whimpered for mercy, you have betrayed everybody and everything. Can you think of a
single degradation that has not happened to you"
"Winston had stopped weeping, though tears were still oozing out of his eyes. He looked up at O'Brien
'I have not betrayed Julia,' he said."
And also :
"Do it to Julia! Do it to Julia! Not me! Julia! I don?t care what you do to her. Tear her face off, strip
her to the bones. Not me! Julia! Not me!"
Furthermore it describes when Winston and Julia meet again and they have acknowledge that they betrayed each other. The have been beaten by the system and the rebellion has been exorcised.
"?I betrayed you' she said badly
'I betrayed you' he said' "
At the end there is the appendix, which is a vocabulary of Newspeak, which is the language spoken by the governmental officials.
Explanation of the title
The story has been written in 1948 and Orwell simply turned around the last two numbers in order to get a time that is fat away, but not far enough so that nobody has to worry about it.
In a summary book I found a very suitable quote for the reason he has chosen that title and that year.
?He who controls the past conquers the future and he who conquers the future beats the past.? So I think it might not be a warning for the people of his time but even more for the people of our time. It means that we?ve to be very careful with the things said and done in the past and use this knowledge wisely, so that we can make a good future for coming generations.
"Just for a moment, what almost frightening power had sounded in that cry from only a few hundred throats! Why was it that they could never shout like that about anything that mattered??
It isn?t really a passage, more just one sentence. I think this sentence really sums this whole book up. The story is already very politically motivated and this sentence just underlines that. Orwell looks at politics in his time and he knew that in the fantasy year he created it would be just the same as in real life 1984. There is a lot of shouting going on, just so people can show how patriotic they are, meanwhile one third of the world?s population is dying of starvation. Orwell sees al this and tells his story, somewhat humorously, what makes it even more frightening. You could say that Orwell wrote a partially autobiographical book in a age of time when it was more difficult to criticise the people who ruled your country.
Could there be a deeper meaning to this story, well gosh I don?t know. The whole book is filled with symbolic and hidden messages. For instance the prophetic dreams Winston has about meeting Julia and meeting O?Brien.
But of course the true deeper meaning of the book is the criticism Orwell has on the society he lives in. And it is a warning for future generations. He is somewhat like a prophet of doom and hellfire. There once was a wise man who said that a good prophet of doom is the one that turns out to be wrong, because he lives longer. In that way Orwell was a very good prophet. Nevertheless none of his other predictions came true. We still are not living in a dictatorial Oceania , but then again Europe isn?t really one. Nor have there been telescreens invented or can we say that our computers and televisions have a striking resemblance? Neither let we have our minds controlled, or can man safely say that commercials have no effect on us?
I can?t answer these questions for the simple reason that it is just what you read in it. I read in it that we must be very careful not to get narrow-minded and that we must always have a open mind for thoughts and lifestyles that are very different from that of our own, so that we always keep in balance. And we?ll be spared of dictatorship, which only feeds with our indifference.
"Until they become conscious they will never rebel, and until after they have rebelled they cannot become conscious."
Can I compare myself with one of the characters?
No I cannot. The characters are not round enough so you can compare yourself with one of them. Orwell?s purpose was to give life to the story and not specifically to the characters. They?re all kind of flat.
It is very hard to imagine what I would have done in that situation, because it is such a absurd story.
What struck me the most
Was why Orwell choose for a future where the only purpose of sex was to breed and not for fun. It has no real meaning to it. Is it because of the typical English antipathy of anything that has to do with sex? Or does he mean something by it? Maybe he is just showing a way of life-control. Or is it a warning for us not to have to many children, for the earth could get overcrowded. It is remarkably enough Orwell who uses this typical English value in his book, while on the other hand he isn?t really fond of typical English values, as he has shown in his political criticism.
"He hated her because she was young and pretty and sexless, because he wanted to go to bed with her
and would never do so, because round her sweet supple waist, which seemed to ask you. to encircle it
with your arm, there was only the odious scarlet sash, aggressive symbol of chastity."
Am I satisfied with the end?
Actually I am. Because if it would have ended like it always ends in American movies. Where the hero always prevails and will always have the girl. The main character actually loses everything because of the girl and because of the system. It is good that it ends like that, because otherwise it takes the warning away for future generations. Who also read this book and will also think about it. And like many things in science fiction, sometimes they become real, because future inventors or politician or whomever will read it and will be inspired by it. As it is with this book, people will read it and will understand that it clearly is not the way to go. So you have less change it actually happens.
How do I value this book?
As a very inspiring book. No wonder that a lot of people have read this book before me. It is just a very exiting and readable book. Orwell can give you a feeling that you?re actually in the book, standing next to Winston. Sometimes you just want to slap him and warn him for the obvious. Not many writers can do that, I admire that in a writer. Furthermore I think some passages are just pure poetry "If I could save Julia by doubling my own pain, would I do it? Yes, I would". I like reading heroic things like that, but it also the surprise that he fails is a pleasant one.
Hij was een Brits schrijver, journalist en criticus. Hij is een van de meest bewonderde Engelstalige auteurs van de 20e eeuw. Het bekendst zijn de twee werken die hij schreef tegen het einde van zijn leven: Animal Farm en 1984. Het zijn scherpe aanklachten tegen stalinisme en totalitarisme.
- Nineteen Eighty-Four
- Eric Arthur Blair
- Meer boeken van:George Orwell