The Quintessential Negative Utopia in George Orwell's 1984

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The Quintessential Negative Utopia in George Orwell's 1984

1984 is George Orwell's arguably his most famous novel, and it remains one of the most powerful warnings ever made against the dangers of a totalitarian society. George Orwell was primarily a political novelist as a result of his life experiences. In Spain, Germany, and Russia, Orwell had seen for himself the peril of absolute political authority in an age of advanced technology; he illustrated that peril harshly in 1984.

Orwell's book could be considered the most acknowledged in the genre of the negative utopian novel. The mood of the novel aims to portray a pessimistic future. This prospect is to show the worst human society imaginable and to convince readers to avoid any path that might lead toward societal degradation. Orwell's world of post-atomic dictatorship, in which every individual is ceaselessly monitored through the telescreen seemed just possible enough to terrify. When Orwell postulated such a society it was only 35 years into the future that made the horror depicted by the novel seem more relevant and real.

While the year 1984 has long since come and gone it is more than obvious that the world Orwell describes has not materialized. But the message of 1984 remains relevant enough to frighten, and accurate enough to feel possible. War is used as a device for political manipulation on television--a concept presented strikingly in the recent film Wag the Dog. The governmental forces have historical records rewritten to match the political ideology of the ruling Party. This is a technique has been used by the Soviet Union and is still all too common in some parts of the world. The warning remains significant: the world has not completely escaped from the dangers Orwell describes.

The novel is based on the experiences of Winston Smith, an insignificant member of the ruling Party in London, in the nation of Oceania. Everywhere Winston goes, even his own home, he is watched through telescreens, and everywhere he looks he sees the face of the Party's omniscient leader, a figure known only as Big Brother. The Party controls everything from history to language. The Party is currently forcing the implementation of an invented language called Newspeak, which attempts to prevent political rebellion by eliminating all words related to it. Even thinking rebellious thoughts is illegal. Thoughtcri...

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...r reading this novel. Big Brother is the figurehead of a government that has total control. The Big Brother regime uses propaganda and puts fear in its citizens to keep the general population in line. “Big Brother is watching you”(5) is just one example of many party slogans that puts fear in its citizens. Big Brother uses various ways to catch people guilty of bad thoughts And the term Big Brother is used though out other literature as well as other forms of media and communication.

Lesson Ideas

1. The entire class would have to comply with the societal rules that Winston has to. By either having the class have a discussion on how to make everyone completely equal. If one person has glasses they all would have glasses. Etc.

2. Write a paper in Newspeak, or have a class conversation in Newspeak.

3. How would they feel if their entire life was predestined? What if the only was to survive was to conform.

4. What is freedom? What is this type of society born from? If a class of seniors is they involved with government or do they allow it to happen?

5. Might teach Civil disobedience along with this. At least a supplemental reading for a one-day discussion.
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