An Orwellian Paradox

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“Until they become conscious they will never rebel, and until after they have rebelled they cannot become conscious.”(Orwell, 1984, 1.7.4) An Orwellian paradox, this statement describes the despair in hope for societal change. It expresses how an oppressed nation could never rise against their tormentor until they become enlightened that they have been oppressed, yet enlightenment cannot be obtained without breaking free of their oppression. This concept, described in the 1949 novel Nineteen Eighty-Four, encapsulates the outlook of its protagonist Winston Smith on his society’s inability to change under a totalitarian government which controls every facet of its subject’s lives. The man behind this mind-opening novel is satirical novelist George Orwell. Orwell was an English novelist marked for his writings on social justice awareness, oppositional criticisms on totalitarianism/authoritarianism, and commitment to democratic socialism. Born Eric Arthur Blair in Motihari, Bihar, British India on June 25, 1903, Orwell is best known for the dystopian novel Nineteen Eighty-Four and the allegorical novella Animal Farm. A man of unwavering convictions and powerful views on social justice, Orwell addressed many of the major political movements of his time to include fascism and communism. Born to Richard Walmesley Blair, a British civil servant, and Ida Mabel Blair, George had two siblings, his older sister Marjorie, and younger sister Avril. At one year of age in 1904, he settled in Henley-on-Thames in Oxfordshire, England with his mother and older sister, prior moving to Shiplake before World War I. However, his relationship with his father was almost nonexistent. His father Richard Blair remained in India after his wife and kids moved ... ... middle of paper ... ... laid to rest at Sutton Courtenay, Oxfordshire, England. His legacy will forever serve as a reminder of the political injustice done, when governments are allowed to reign unchecked by its people. His works influenced such authors and free-thinkers as William Golding, author of the noble prize winning novel Lord of the Flies, and Christopher Hitchens, an award winning British author and journalist, best known for his strong socialist political views and devotion to atheistic enlightenment. George Orwell’s gift to humanity is a powerful role model for social justice against tyrannical and imperialistic governments. With obvious abuse of power in the US government today, it is apparent that we have forgotten the fundamental lessons taught by Orwell. If we as a society do not become conscious of our domestic tyranny, we can never rebel and demand a better system.

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