1984 Text Notes
Genre – dystopian, fiction, futuristic fable, allegory (literary analogy, tries to teach), didactic, physiological
“It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen” (p.3)
The Dangers of Totalitarianism
A political novel with the purpose of warning readers in the West of the dangers of totalitarian government. Totalitarian governments, like in Spain and Russia, went to horrific lengths to maintain and increase their power. Western nations were, at this time, still unsure about how to approach the rise of communism In the American press, the Soviet Union was often portrayed as a great moral experiment. This was before the cold war. Orwell was deeply disturbed by the widespread cruelties and oppressions and was particularly concerned by the role of technology in enabling oppressive governments to monitor and control their citizens. Orwell portrays the perfect totalitarian society, the most extreme realisation imaginable of a modern-day government with absolute power. If totalitarianism was not opposed, the title suggested, some variation of the world described in the novel would eventuate. A state is portrayed in which the government monitors and controls every aspect of human life to the extent that even having a disloyal thought is against the law. “War is peace. Freedom is slavery. Ignorance is strength.” (p.6) “The Ministry of Truth, which concerned itself with news, entertainment, education and the fine arts. The Ministry of Peace, which concerned itself with war. The Ministry of Love, which maintained law and order. And the Ministry of Plenty, which was responsible for economic affairs.” (p.6) “I understand HOW: I do not understand WHY.” (p.83)
“In the end the Party would announce that two and two made five, and you would have to believe it.” (p.83) “the logic of their position demanded it. Not merely the validity of experience, but the very existence of external reality, was tacitly denied by their philosophy.” (p.83) “And what was terrifying was not that they would kill you for thinking otherwise, but that they might be right.” (p.84) “If both the past and the external world exist only in the mind, and if the mind itself is controllable – what then?” (p.84) “The Party told you to reject the evidence of your eyes and ears” (p.84) “freedom is the freedom to say that two plus two make four. If that is granted, all else follows.” (p.84) “The two aims of the Party are to conquer the whole surface of the earth and to extinguish once and for all the possibility of independent thought.” (p.201) “that the conditions of life in all three super states are very much the same” (p.205) “Actually the three philosophies are barely distinguishable at all. Everywhere there is the same pyramidal structure, the same worship of a semi-divine leader, the same economy existing by and for continuous warfare. It follows that the there super states not only cannot conquer one another, but would gain no advantage by doing so.” (p.205) “they prop one another up, like three sheaves of corn” (p.205) “the ruling groups of all three powers are simultaneously aware and unaware of what they are doing” (p.205) “Inefficient nations were always conquered sooner or later, and the struggle for efficiency was inimical to illusions. Moreover, to be efficient it was necessary to be able to learn from the past, which meant having a fairly accurate idea of what happened in the past.” (p.206) “Efficiency, even military efficiency is no longer needed. Nothing is efficient in Oceania except the Thought Police.” (p.206) “Between life and death, and between physical pleasure and physical pain, there is still a distinction, but that is all. Cut off from contact with the outer world, and with the past, the citizen of Oceania is like a man in interstellar space, who has no way of knowing which direction is up and which is down.” (p.207) “once the minimum is achieved, they can twist reality into whatever shape...
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