Soulless Humanity in George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four (1984)

Soulless Humanity in George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four (1984)

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Soulless Humanity in 1984

 

The year 1984 has since passed but George Orwell's prophetic vision of the future could still happen.  1984  portrays a society that has lost all trace of individuality, love, and critical thought.  George Orwell's "Negative Utopia" depicts the despair of the future of humans and also serves as a warning about fascism.


    Orwell's sets the mood of the book as one of hopelessness for the future of humans.  He contrasts this mood with a popular philosophy: belief in the progress of humanity and the ability of people to institute peace and justice in the world.  These contrasting views set up the premise for the life of Winston Smith, who is one man caught in a society devoted to conformity.  Orwell's warning to this is that if people cannot change the way things are going, our society will lose their human qualities.  They will become soulless machines and not have a clue as to their new world they created.  This is the world in which Winston Smith is caught in.  He is different from the others and in a civilization which does not approve of individuality, Winston is targeted by the government from the beginning.  Being different in this populace only means rebellion and that exactly is what Winston sets out to do.  Winston believes that although he must conform on the outside, that no one can take his individual thought away.  Winston's individuality is the only hope for human nature for he questions the most basic principles of the regime, a thoughcrime.  One doctrine Winston questions is the concept of freedom-

 
"How could you have a slogan like 'freedom is slavery' when the concept of freedom has been abolished?"

 
Winston goes on to say there will be an end to thought.  "Orthodoxy means not thinking..."  "Orthodoxy is unconscienceness."


    The belief that humanity is progressing while they are really losing their individuality is actually halting human progress.  Every aspect of life is changing for the worse while people believe humans are advancing.  One example is Newspeak.  As Syme put it, "You don't grasp the beauty of the destruction of words."  The destruction of words is seen as progress while in actuality, it is another step in destroying individuals and creating a hopeless future.  Once this happens, Orwell warns, all hope is lost.


    Currently, Winston lives in a world filled with the ravishes of war.

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  A philosophy of the West is that humanity has the ability to create peace and justice.  The war greatly contributes to the hopelessness of the future and humanity.In Winston's world, this is all impossible for the ability to create has all been eradicated.  The world will forever be at war because on one will be able to intelligent to stop it.  It is as if machines run the world.  And the machines are unable to stop if its creators have lost all sense of peace and justice.

    The Big Brother regime in Orwell's novel serves as a warning about fascism which could ruin humanity's progress. World War I had supposedly been fought for peace and democracy.  But the war changed a tradition of hope in Europe to one of despair.  The hope for individual and social perfectibility which had been around in the Enlightenment and the nineteenth century was destroyed after the First World War.  The moral decay was only beginning according to Orwell.  At the time 1984  was first published, World War II had only been over for four years.  Dictators like Hitler and Stalin had ruined people's hope for reform.  Technology, for the first time in history, now had the potential of annihilating civilization.  Hitler had used fear and technology to increase his power and control the people.  Big Brother did the exact same thing.  The regime used technology to control the people.  Big Brother had telescreeens, spies, the Thought Police to control the people.  The populace, being so oppressed by this power, were unable to do anything else but obey.  Soon they lost their individuality and became mindless automations.  Like the repressive governments of Germany and Russia, anyone who rebelled or spoke out against them were "disciplined."  In Winston's world, people were never seen again.  Once enemies were "vaporized" all traces of their existence were eliminated.  And the people, being machines, automatically forgot the enemy and went on in life as if the person had never existed.  Technology had destroyed all critical thought.  Orwell wanted to warn the world about fascism in hope of preserving humanity and its progress.

    In a world where ideals like,

WAR IS PEACE

FREEDOM IS SLAVERY

IGNORANCE IS STRENGTH

humanity cannot exist without turning into something else.  In 1984, humanity turned into soulless machines devoid of thought.  For the few like Winston who did not conform, individual thought was all they had to cling on to.  Orwell's atmosphere of hopelessness clashed with faith in human progress.  Orwell's one wish was to warn the world of the danger that fascism can bring upon humanity.
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