How Does Orwell Criticise Totalitarianism?

Topics: Nineteen Eighty-Four, Totalitarianism, George Orwell Pages: 5 (1467 words) Published: April 10, 2013
1) How far and in what ways are totalitarianism and human societies criticised by Orwell, and is this meant as a warning for the population in the post-war period?

2) Orwell criticises totalitarianism in his novel by creating in it a society that cumulates all the disadvantages from different regimes throughout history. Therefore, this author manages to denigrate human societies in general as well as the government of totalitarian regimes through the way his main character, Winston Smith, feels about the Party. He also manages to give us an overview of the human societies throughout history and their structure, without omitting to implicitly criticise them. Why does Orwell write this novel, full of under-statements and direct references to the world of today and throughout history, if not to warn the population of the extents of communism?

3) Three documents focused on to develop and illustrate the main theme are: -An extract from Orwell’s 1984 chapter 9,
–An extract of Chapter 1 from 1984
–An essay written in class with the theme of: ‘ How far and in what ways does Orwell appear to criticize humanity and totalitarianism?’

-Firstly, we will take a look at the ninth chapter of Orwell’s award-winning novel 1984. This chapter is in fact a book within a book. Its title is ‘The Theory and Practice of Oligarchic Collectivism’. In this chapter, Orwell looks at, amongst other themes, society, how it functions and how it is structured. He treats this theme by explaining aspects of the fictional world of 1984, but he does not stop there. It is made explicit that, by criticizing and explaining the world he creates in his novel, Orwell makes references to the real world both of today and throughout history. A point made in this chapter is that democratic societies, who affirm they are based on equality and respect of human rights, are no better than dictatorships, because either way there are too many aspects of them which remain unequal. One of these aspects is that “since the end of the Neolithic Age, there have been three kinds of people in the world, the High, the Middle and the Low.”

The way Orwell sees it, “the essential structure of society has never altered” meaning human societies have not made progress in the way the population is split up, or rather it had not remained the way it should have done; as it was before Neolithic age, where there were not three kinds of people but one.

This is a perfect example of implicit criticism of human societies throughout history by the author of 1984. It is not said outright that human societies are all unfair, but it is implied. A very wide overview is given of human societies and their disadvantages, but there is no insight in this passage of how these different societies have an impact on the individuals living under their rules.

Now it is understood how Orwell implicitly criticises human societies in general, it is important to acknowledge the way this author also explicitly criticises totalitarianism in his novel. -As said previously, 1984’s protagonist Winston Smith plays an important role in depicting the conditions in which an ordinary Party member has to live in.

Orwell criticises the ‘perfect’ totalitarian society through Winston’s eyes. The Party, a government that holds all the powers and the reins to a country named Oceania, is in fact a portrayal of a state that could eventually be created if people in Europe do not fight against totalitarianism/communism.

Since the only knowledge the population has involving totalitarianism is based on what the Soviet Union regime and Nazi Germany have done, Orwell is willing to show people what England would be like under totalitarian rule. (= World in which individuals are controlled so strictly that every aspect of their life is monitored (telescreens, thought police, anti sex league…) to the extent that even having a disloyal thought is against the law.)

Winston has to live in...
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