Literary criticism allows the reader to a culture’s views in both the past and the present. From understanding these views one can deduce significant themes and be able to relate them to contemporary ones. This is exemplified in the novel Nineteen Eighty-Four, written by George Orwell in 1949, which depicts the protagonist rebelling against a totalitarian society, in which the leaders abuse their power and the technology to control their population in the way they think, act and say. Orwell uses techniques such as the tone towards the leaders, the characterisation of O’Brien and the plot to the contextual views towards the themes of the novel.
In the novel, the government had total control over the people in the way that they thought, acted and spoke. The leaders abused their power and they created ways to control their beliefs and values. They did this through laws and the technology was ill-treated through the telescreens, which constantly sent propaganda and monitoring the people. Even the invention of a new language, Newspeak, was made to manipulate people perception on issues. "Don't you see that the whole aim of Newspeak is to narrow the range of thought?… Has it ever occurred to you, Winston, that by the year 2050, at the very latest, not a single human being will be alive who could understand such a conversation as we are having now?”’ (Orwell 1949 pg. 55) Newspeak is the main way in which the Party, the group in power, plan to manipulate the people in the future, by making them unable to talk about something that has been removed from their vocabulary, as it is no longer a word. This would make the people “accept longer working hours or shorter rations” (Orwell 1949) because they are unable to question their leaders. Orwell criticises how the leaders abuse their power, and was in displaying the ultimatum on leaders abusing their power in the novel. During the time that the novel was written Adolf Hitler and Joseph Stalin had abused their power to receive control over their people similar to how the leaders do in the novel, as leaders are doing now. Adolf Hitler mistreated his power to commit genocide against the Jewish race due to a personal grudge that he had with them. Joseph Stalin eliminated all of his enemies and people that questioned him through his power over the military. Not only that, he erased them from history by removing them from images and textbooks as if they no longer existed. This is shown through the book through the invention of Newspeak. Much the same with the world power, the United States of America in the present day are abusing their power, except to a lesser extent. The Americans have a law, the Patriot Act, which allows them to hold in prison suspected criminals under suspicion of terrorist activities or a threat to the United States. In fact, they can hold someone forever without legit able evidence. There are similar counter-terrorism laws around the world. The Australian government found that out that a doctor, named Mohamed Haneef, communicated with a known terrorist and he was imprisoned for suspected terrorism. The government refused to release what was being said in the messages, until the court ordered them to. It was revealed that the suspect and the terrorist were cousins and had been exchanging messages that were family related issues and simple greetings, such as “Happy Birthday.” The United States has not yet abolished the law, despite constant criticism by the media and other countries. Consequently, one can be said that the modern day view and the past view since the text was written has not changed. People would agree that the government should not have the power to do so, as it is a breach of their rights and freedom. Therefore, it can be put forward that the theme of government’s power over the people should never reach the point of total control on what their beliefs and attitudes towards issues has not changed, but governments are still abusing...
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