Imagine a society where the thoughts, emotions, and actions of every human are supervised by the government, and there is absolutely no freedom. This is a common theme for a dystopian society, as represented in the famous George Orwell novel, 1984. The “Party” had the power to control all humanity inside of Oceania. Winston Smith and his beloved coworker, Julia, are against them in light of the fact that they feel discontent about the oppression and inflexible control of the Party. In the novel, they work together in an attempt to overthrow the Party, until they unfortunately realize it may be best to embrace the Party’s doctrine once they come upon O’Brien, a powerful member of the Brotherhood.
Winston, along with all of the other residents of Oceania, are constantly watched by “Big Brother”, the government. “The constant watch is kept on him by a telescreen, which is always monitoring not only his every action and word, but his facial expressions as well. The slightest notion through appearance or gesture against the Party, who support Big Brother, could automatically mean death, or maybe a much worse torture. He must appear to be a member of the Party in every aspect, and the Thought Police are always there to enforce that loyalty.” (LSCHS) This allows us to imagine the cruel, totalitarian society Winston lives in, and just how selfish and power-hungry the government is. It is evident that anybody living under these circumstances would rather be elsewhere.
“If there is hope, it lies in the proles.” (Orwell 89) This quote means that Winston believed that if they could all come together, they would be strong enough to destroy the Party since the proles make up eighty-five percent of the population of Oceania. “If they chose they could blow the Party to pieces tomorrow morning.” (Orwell 89) He does not think the Party can be overthrown from within. In addition, the proles are given freedom and have no connection with the Party because they are seen as the lower social class, meaning they are not important enough to pay much attention to. However, this concept becomes less significant later in the novel once Winston and Julia meet O’Brien.
O’Brien wants to make Winston perfect in the Party’s image to “save” him, by bringing torture unto him. If Winston could perhaps become rehabilitated, it was believed that he would be “clean” from preexisting thoughtcrime. Different torturous techniques he suffered were threats, degradation, starvation, and many others. However, this was not for Winston’s sake, but for the Party’s to prevent it from becoming corrupt. In addition, it would turn out that Winston was being watched for many years by O’Brien and there was his chance to catch him, and to brain wash him into thinking what the Party wants him to think.
The author uses this power struggle to enhance the meaning of the story. 1984, which was written in 1949, was intended to warn its readers in Western nations of the dangers of totalitarian government, or communism. This was important at the time due to the fact that the Cold War was at the verge of escalating. However, communism would begin to spread more rapidly later on. “The pre-war international system had collapsed, causing the USA to face an enormously strengthened Communist USSR across large stretches of Europe and even vaster stretches of the non-European world, whose political future seemed uncertain – except that in this explosive and unstable world anything that happened was more likely than not to weaken both capitalism and the USA, and to strengthen the power which came into existence by and for revolution.” (Hobsbawm 231)
In conclusion, George Orwell’s 1984 is about the dystopian, totalitarian society in Oceania. A totalitarian government us defined as “a government that has almost complete control over the lives of its citizens and does not allow freedom to oppose them”. (Cambridge English Dictionary) It describes Winston and the other citizens’ struggle trying to cope with living in such a society, trying to avoid getting caught and executed, and trying to escape it’s rule. It was written to inform readers about what might happen in the event that communism spreads across the world during the Cold War. Winston never actually became free from the Party, instead he was only deceived into changing his opinion on the Party, and when that didn’t work, he had many more unfortunate things in store for him.