How "1984" Relates to 20th Century European History Essay

How "1984" Relates to 20th Century European History Essay

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The book 1984 describes a future society in which Winston Smith lives as a member of the Outer Party, the organization which rules the state of Oceania, where Winston lives. The year 1984 is an arbitrary year, since Winston cannot be sure of the past or present, due to the fact that the Party and Big Brother are in the continuous process of manufacturing history, much like revisionists, in order to control the minds and the memories of the citizens of Oceania. Orwell describes the citizens in Oceania as "cut off from contact with the outer world, and with the past, the citizen of Oceania is like a man in interstellar space, who has no way of knowing which direction is up and which is down" (164). Winston eventually falls in love with a fellow Party member, Julia, which is implicitly forbidden by the Party, and connects with a member of the Inner Party, O'Brien, who Winston believes is a member of a society resisting the Party, called the Brotherhood. The book describes the relationships between the three, and also describes the society in which they live and how it came into being. Winston rebels against a world in which there are no connections, no individuality, only uniformity and conformity. He wonders how and why the modern society should be the way it is, and seeks "the original motive, the never-questioned instinct that first led to the seizure of power and brought doublethink, the Thought Police, continuous warfare, and all the other necessary paraphernalia into existence" (179). O'Brien reveals that the Party did not seek power because human beings could not govern themselves, as Winston thinks, but for the sake of power itself, which he describes as not the means but the end. This is comparable to the reasons the...

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...two contradictory beliefs in one's mind simultaneously, and accepting both of them" (176). In modern day, the term "civilian casualties" being reworded as "collateral damage" is an example of the manipulation of language. In 1984, the Party also seeks to eradicate the family; one way is to turn children against their parents. Parsons, another coworker of Smith's is ultimately betrayed in this manner, believing that he did something wrong, after he hears that his children have reported him to the Party as plotting against Big Brother. The world of 1984 is a world of public hangings, and of people being desensitized to violence, another result of continuous war between the three superstates. In the end, Smith betrays Julia and becomes a member of the Party again, but before he is converted, he states a belief that "if there is hope, it lies in the proles" (60).

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