George Orwell, author of 1984, describes a world where anonymity is dead. He goes on to tell the reader that this idea of a world could possibly exist in the real world. This idea haunts readers throughout Orwell's novel. Orwell hopes that readers will leave 1984 believing the possibility of this world is real; enough to question government and tread cautiously into the future. Orwell intends to portray Oceania realistically enough to convince contemporary readers that such a society has, in fact, existed and could exist again if people forget the lessons taught by history, or fail to guard against tyrannical, totalitarian governments. These two themes: totalitarianism and history, tie together the plot and messages in 1984. Orwell sets his story in war-torn London. Thirty to forty bombs rain down on the city per week and everywhere Winston turns, reminders of the war, such as the Two Minutes Hate and billboards plastered with Party slogans, color his existence. Deprivation, another bi-product of war, hangs in the air as heavily as the horrible grime and stench created by the city's overcrowded tenements. Upon opening 1984, Orwell's first readers, English people during the late 1940s, would have immediately recognized themselves. Having just emerged from WWII, Londoners would have intimately related to the deprivation and destruction portrayed in 1984. However, while Winston placed full blame for his situation on the shoulders of Big Brother, Londoners would not have identified the cause of their misery as the British government. More likely, the British would have blamed Nazi Germany for starting the war and causing such chaos and devastation. Winston's rebellion against Big Brother would have resonated with contemporary audiences because they too had recently struggled to defeat the totalitarian regimes of Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy. While it is difficult to pinpoint the specific sparks that set off WWII, the people fighting in the Allied armies must...
Cited: Orwell, George. 1984. Ed. Erich Fromm. New York: Harcourt, 1949.
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