George Orwell's Success or Failure in Depicting the Horror of Totalitarianism in 1984 Term Paper

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GEORGE ORWELL'S CRUSADE AGAINST TOTALITARIANISM

George Orwell was a crusader when it came to totalitarianism. The one power he knew he had against the system was his writing skills. And he put that to extremely productive and effective use when he wrote seriously one novel after another against totalitarianism and its negative implications. In his essay, "Literature and Totalitarianism," he explained why he hated the system: "Totalitarianism has abolished freedom of thought to an extent unheard of in any previous age. And it is important to realize that its control of thought is not only negative, but also positive. It not only forbids you to express -- even to think -- certain thoughts, but it dictates what you shall think, it creates an ideology for you, it tries to govern your emotional life as well as setting up a code of conduct." (Literature and Totalitarianism, 1941)

Orwell argued that Totalitarianism was abhorred because it took away an individual's right to think and decide for himself. under this system not only that man wasn't allowed to think, he was also forced to think only in the manner that Totalitarian government needed. The finest example of his work on Totalitarianism was the novel "1984." And a close study of the novel will explain how Orwell targeted Totalitarianism and how effective he had been in his crusade.Get full Download Microsoft Word File access
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Term Paper on George Orwell's Success or Failure in Depicting the Horror of Totalitarianism in 1984 Assignment

Written in 1949, the story is set in, as the name suggests, 1984. The story takes place in Airstrip One which is a mainland of a huge country known as Oceania. This country has a leader called Big Brother. The book talks about a character known as Winston Smith who works at the Records Department in the Ministry of Truth. His job is to alter and rewrite historical records and news articles. Once the altered versions of the records are produced, the original are destroyed forever. Possessing a diary was a serious crime punishable by death, but Winston had bought a book to keep it as a diary. The story describes the use of telescreens to promote propaganda and propagation of political agendas. The telescreen also had a built-in microphone and camera so that the government could spy on people. George Orwell relates in the book that the ruling party known as "The Party" would alter historical records to suit their means and describes an incident where the Big Brother had given a speech promising no reduction in chocolate rations. However later on there was a reduction and thus Winston had to rewrite the historical records and the article where reference was made to the speech by the Big Brother. The story mentions of a book known as "The Book" with chapters that are also the main slogans of the party. These chapters are known to be "War is Peace," "Ignorance is Strength" and "Freedom is Slavery." The central ideas in the book are that War causes a decrease in the living standards of the people and thus the control over them would increase. Human equality does not exist in this book and people are still divided into the lower, middle and upper classes. Wealth is concentrated and regulated within the elites and others are simply getting poorer. The people have lost the ability to think and thus they are given the freedom of thought. Members of the party are not allowed to think other than what they are supposed to think. They are put under a mental training program in the concept of doublethink.

Doublethink is a very interesting concept presented in the book. Doublethink brainwashes the people and makes them believe that the party and Big Brother are the only people who know the difference between right and wrong and are able to distinguish between them. Every other institution does not know the difference is what Doublethink is all about in the book. People are made to accept and believe contradictions through a devious plan. Even if a person recognizes a contradiction, he is made to believe that he is recalling a false or fabricated fact and thus there exists no contradiction. This way the people are controlled and their thoughts are controlled. George Orwell has written a remarkable book which talks about the future yet has concepts from the past. "George Orwell's 1984, a novel written to dramatize the symbolic power of modern ideology," talks of a totalitarian future where the thoughts and ideas of the people are controlled and history is forged according to what suits the rulers best (George Lenczowski, p.22). This was actually practiced in the past by the Nazi and the main opposition towards the totalitarian country, Emmanuel Goldstein, as seen by the name seems to be a Jew. George Orwell talks about how the totalitarians talk and portray themselves to be the only people who know what is right and what is not and thus introduce themselves as being perfect in all aspects. Their main idea is to control the people and make them believe that their system is perfect and whatever the government does is correct because they know the best.

Today the United States follows not the totalitarian system of ruling but follows a somewhat similar system which the common man knows as capitalism. To reflect on George Orwell's 1984 is about reconsidering and questioning "ourselves, our society, our world; our past, our present and -- above all -- our future" (John David Frodsham, p.139). When we consider the book by George Orwell and compare it with our society today, many similar things are observed and this makes us question whether the future would culminate to be exactly like the society which George Orwell has described in 1984 where sexual activities would also become solely for the purpose of reproduction and not for pleasure. Many critics do claim that when Orwell wrote the book, although the year mentioned was 1984, he was hinting and directing to a period beyond the year 2000. "A careful review of the literary evidence reveals that he was aiming at the period immediately following the year 2000 but wanted to memorialize the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Fabian Society" (David Goodman, p.22). Today with the capitalist theory money circulates among the elite of society and while the rich are getting richer each day, the poor are getting poorer. The gap between the rich and the poor keeps on increasing with time instead of decreasing like many capitalists would like to claim. "A preliminary survey by the Republican-led federal bureau reported earlier this month that some 1.4 million more Americans fell into poverty last year" (Jackson Thoreau). This when compared to the situation in George Orwell's book 1984, one can observe a clear similarity. He has described the same conditions and thus his totalitarian system is quite similar to the capitalist theory which the United States is following thus the chances increase the nation is going towards a dystopian nightmare rather than a bright future.

In 1984 there is a mention of telescreen used to propagate propaganda and other political agendas. It talks of a program referred to as "Two Minutes Hate" which everyone is supposed to watch. It campaigns against the enemies of Big Brother and Oceania and works to brainwash the people into condemning the person that the government is condemning. "A hideous ecstasy of fear and vindictiveness, a desire to kill, to torture, to smash faces in with a sledge hammer, seemed to flow through the whole group of people like an electric current, turning one even against one's will into a grimacing, screaming lunatic." (William Norman Grigg, p.33). Media today is also used in that manner at times and can really brainwash the people. After September 11, the media spoke of Muslims attacking the United States and the effect was so great on the people that many reacted violently towards all Muslims thinking that each one of them is a terrorist. George Orwell, although began to write the book in 1948, spoke of a time beyond 2000 and many of the things which he described in his book are actually happening today in our society and culture. Media has often been used as a tool for propagating some of the hidden agendas of the government and at times used for propaganda. If things remain to proceed the way they are then maybe one day we will end up living in a situation exactly the way George Orwell has portrayed in his remarkable piece of literature, 1984. After September 11 the administration was under heavy debate regarding the surveillance of the people. Had this been approved, the situation would have resembled that of the built-in camera in the telescreens. Maybe in the future something like this is allowed, then man will loose all privacy and will be under watch twenty four hours a day. When Mr. Hatch, a senator, was asked about "John Poindexter's massive computerized Total Information Awareness Program at the Defense Department which can track the personal records of every American," he stated that at… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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