Nineteen Eighty-Four: A Grim Prediction of the Future

Nineteen Eighty-Four was written between the years of 1945 and 1948. Orwell got the title from switching the last two numbers of the publication date. In Orwell's criticism of a perfect society, his book became known as one of the greatest anti-utopian novels of all time. The book's message is so powerful that some say it went so far as to prevent the sinister future from realizing itself.
Althought the book starts out as the story of a neurotic, paranoid man, it quickly turns into a protest against a quasi-utopian society and a totalitarian government. The book appears to be a satire at the start, similar to books such as "Gulliver's Travels", or Huxley's "Brave New World", but all too quickly the reader will "discover, quite unpleasantly, that it is not a satire at all." Nineteen Eighty-four is not simply a criticism of what Orwell saw happening in his national government with the coming of English Socialism, but a warning of the consequences of contemporary governmental practices, and what they where threatening to bring about.
Perhaps the book seems so bleak because the events in the book are a somewhat logical projection from current conditions and historical environment that Orwell observed in 1948. Perhaps people would be more comftorble with the book if they could rule out in their minds the possibility of the profecy becoming a reality.
In a critique of his own work, Orwell called Nineteen Eighty-Four "A work of a future terrible [sic] because it rests on a fiction and can not be substantiated by reality or truth. " But perhaps this future is realizing itself more than Orwell thought it would. Orwell, more than likely, would have made note of, but wouldn't be astonished by, the fact that in 1983 the average American household spent over 7 hours in front of the television every night. The number is even greater for those households which currently subscribe to a cable service. Those families watch television for more that 58 hours a week. That is more that 2 days straight without sleeping, eating, or going to the bathroom.
He also wouldn't have passed by this magazine advertisement that could be seen in 1984: Is Big Brother watching? If you are tired of Government, tired of big business, tired of everyone telling you who you are and what you should be, then now is the time to speak out. Display your disgust and exhibit your independence, Wear a "Big Brother Is Watching" tee-shirt. $10, Canadians remit us dollars. Big Brother is Watching LTD. Neenah, WI. This advertisement makes one wonder if there is really a group dedicated to the rise to power of someone called "Big Brother".
No true reader could ever pass off Winstons experience with indifference. You have to have some kind of sympathy for a man, even if fictional, who can not remember his childhood, or for that matter, even his mother. That is certain to strike a nerve with almost anyone.
In addition to this constant pain of loss, the reader will also have to vicariously live through lengthy episodes of of other psychological pains, and physical pain. The reader will also be forced to endure the pains of society as "The Party" turns children against parents, friends against friends, and although ther reader will discover the beauty of a love between a man and a woman, "The Party" will eventually destroy that too.
While "The Party" is an important theme, two other themes are far more important. The first is the distruction of language. By eliminating more and more words from people's vocabularies, "The Party" eliminates the ability of people to unite or conspire against the government. However, they are also eliminating the possibility of conceiving original thought, which has catastrophic effects. The ultimate goal of "The Party" is to reduce the language to only one word thereby eliminating any thought at all. The second important theme is the elimination of the past. This is the main character, Winston's, job in the ministry of truth, to make sure that "The Party" always looks right about every decision it has made in the past.
This quest for total power by "The Party" is an excellent dramatization of Lord Acton's famous apothegm, "power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts