Nineteen Eighty-Four Book Review by Austin Rothe
Nineteen Eighty-four tells a tale of a time when the government is in complete control of reality. They accomplish this with a variety of technologies and mind control techniques. The figurehead of the single Party is Big Brother, and everyone loves Big Brother, everyone except the protagonist, Winston Smith, who silently rebels against the authority. The government monitors everybody’s actions, through the use of “telescreens”, and the infamous Thought Police vaporize anyone who thinks outside of the Party’s ideology. Big Brother is Watching You; this is the haunting reality of the citizens of Oceania, in the year 1984.
The Party controls the people through three ministries, the “Ministry of Truth”, which deals with lies and propaganda, the “Ministry of Love”, which deals with torture, and the “Ministry of Plenty”, dealing with scarcities. Whatever the Party declares, is the absolute truth, and if you don’t believe it, the Thought Police will find you, and turn you into an “unperson”, erasing all memories of you, and making it so you never existed. The Party’s three main slogans, used to brainwash the people, are “War is Peace”, “Ignorance is Strength”, and “Freedom is Slavery”. The Party creates a new language “Newspeak”, eventually to replace English, in which the number of words is severely decreased, and novel totalitarian concepts such as “doublethink” are introduced. Doublethink means to hold two contradictory beliefs at once, and accepting both of them.
The story portrays Winston; he knows that 2+2=4, even if Big Brother says it’s 5. The rest of the people know that 2+2=5, they are human drones; “goodthinkful” is the word for them, meaning their thoughts are the thoughts of the Party. The Party has constructed its own version of the past, and no one can remember a time when conditions were better. Winston’s first act of rebellion is buying a diary, and writing his true thoughts in it. After he does this, he understands he is of the dead, it’s only time before the Thought Police get him, and they always come in the night.
The mortal enemy of Big Brother is Goldstein, a preacher of democracy. Every day there is a 2 minute hate ceremony, dedicated to blaspheming him. The rumor is that Goldstein has a loosely commanded team of like thinkers, called the Brotherhood, dedicated to bringing down Big Brother.
Nineteen Eighty-four shows the tyranny of absolute power. The Party’s philosophy is clear, reality exists only in the minds of the people, and if the minds are controlled, reality is controlled. “He who controls the present, controls the past. He who controls the past, controls the future.”