“War is peace.
Freedom is slavery.
Ignorance is strength.”
Nineteen Eighty-Four follows a man named Winston Smith who works in the Records Department of the Ministry of Truth. Winston’s job is to ensure that whatever party propaganda latest to headline is reflected in every documented piece of news.
The people of Oceana are under the complete control of The Party and Big Brother. Big Brother is always watching. He’s in your work, he’s in your home and, most importantly, he’s in your thoughts.
Any person who is thought to be conspiring against The Party are removed from society. It is presumed they die however, this is only a theory. No-one mentions them again, records indicate they never existed in the first place. Express otherwise and you yourself might become a victim of the Thought Police.
Winston Smith has such thoughts. Thoughts which go against the party line.
The interesting thing I found with this book is that, it wasn’t as though the characters knew they were being manipulated and went along out of fear, they genuinely believed it. It sounds far-fetched, how can anyone – even Big Brother – control another persons thoughts and memories. The scary thing was that each argument you put forward there was a counter argument.
Winston meets a woman named Julia who also has such thoughts. Thoughts that would almost certainly ensure they are erased from society. But after a lifetime of subordination and manipulation, they conspire against them little by little.
To be completely honest I didn’t particularly like the characters portrayal. However, I’ve wondered whether this was intentional. After-all, the Party doesn’t want you to love anything or anyone. Not your parents, not your partners, not your children. Your only loyalty should be for them and them alone. So it makes sense they don’t know how to love, it makes sense that a moment of betrayal is met with a noncommittal shrug of indifference. They are members of the state, so like it or not that’s how they’re wired.
The ending of this book was slightly terrifying but very impressive. It’s one I think I’ll need to read again to fully appreciate but ultimately I’m so glad I finally read this.