How Can 1984 Be Read and Interpreted Differently by Two Different Readers?

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How can a text be read and interpreted differently by two different readers? 1984 by George Orwell (1949) is a political novel written with the purpose of warning readers of the dangers of totalitarian government. The book can be read and interpreted very differently by two different readers, especially when they were born in a different time. In this essay the viewpoint of two Western readers, one from 1950 and the other from 2012 will be compared to look at the possible difference they could experience in interpreting the story.

First of all, the fear of being watched and controlled is more recognizable for a reader in 1950. During World War II, the media was controlled by the Nazi’s. Radio’s for example, only transmitted positive news for Germany. In order to ensure nobody secretly listened to something else, houses were checked regularly. That was not only to see if people listened to an illegal radio-channel but also to see if they were hiding Jews. When they were founded guilty, they were send to a concentration camp immediately. In the book this is compared with Thought Crime and the Ministry of Love. P 21: theyll shoot me in the back of the neck i dont care down with big brother they always should you in the back of the neck i dont care down with big brother This is a quote from Winstons’ diary. Even writing something in his own private diary, in his own house is a crime since he didn’t obey Big Brother, the Party’s leader. The fact that he scribbled it down so quickly and full of mistakes shows the fear being caught and watched.

Second of all, the concern of totalitarian governments was more relevant immediately after World War II. The reader in 1950 could easily recognize the similarities between the totalitarian government of Hitler and the totalitarian government described in 1984. Before World War II Germany was in an economic downturn. Hitler was a magnificent speaker who offered a reason for this occurring; he blamed the Jews. No one...
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