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I agree with the above posts, particularly number 5. The most disturbing aspect of 1984 for me was Winston's job and the entire set-up dedicated to altering the history of Oceania. The novel challenges us to be critical of the information that we receive and to not simply accept it as truth just because it has been reported as truth.
I agree with the others--this novel is still readable and applicable. For my reason, how about something as simple as the representatives of government still trying to make what they say sound like something they meant to say--and maybe even saying something entirely different tomorrow. It's called "spin," and they all do it. This is the modern, realistic version of doublespeak. Spin is only needed when someone calls them on what they've said, of course; ironically, this happens much more frequently in the world of 24/7 media coverage (everybody watching all the time). Don't fall for it--two plus two does NOT equal five!
As other folks have pointed out, the book is still relevant and worth reading for the warnings and problems that Orwell points out.
I would add another reason, a simple one, and that is the fact that the book is still a good story. You get to see the way that someone might respond to living in a situation that feels hopeless despite having all of his "needs" met on the surface. Winston demonstrates the desire for people to have not only freedom but the opportunity to feel useful, to feel good about what we do, etc.
Along with the fact that the book describes very eloquently the habits of governments and powerful people to abuse the poor, I think the book is very much worthy of study and the time it takes to read it.
I think another angle to approach this from is one of the significance of the idea of "Big Brother" watching over all that we do. This, to me, is extremely relevant today. As the electronic era becomes more and more a factor in our everyday lives, Big Brother is everywhere. Banks and government agencies (as well as private individuals) can obtain all sorts of seemingly personal information about us at the touch of a button. What degree we hold, how much money we earn, what kind of house we live in, what car we drive and any number of other details about our lives can be found on line! With the advent of cell phone cameras, citizen journalists are everywhere, watching our every move and ready to place it on You Tube at a moments notice if it seems at all significant. There are eyes on us everywhere. Security cameras watch buildings, intersections, parking lots.
And it is not only the authorities who are interested in our every move! As a society, the trend toward reality television is another form of "Big Brother" (in fact, there was even a show by the same name). We have become a voyeuristic society, and the government has argued that, to keep us safe from terrorism, we need to become even more voyeuristic. The debate over warrentless wiretaps in light of the terrorist attacks of September 11th comes to mind. What is more important - our right to privacy or our national security?
In short, I believe that the novel is MORE relevant today than it was when it was written in part because so much of what Orwell foretold has become a reality. We do not live in a totalitarian regime, but there are aspects of totalitarianism with our system that merit consideration.
Since this is an opinion question, you'll have to decide what you personally think, but here are three reasons why I believe 1984 is still worthy of study.
1. Orwell wrote the novel as a warning against the danger of totalitarian regimes. During his time, he was focused, of course, on nations like the Soviet Union, and even though that nation has since disbanded, totalitarian regimes still exist (North Korea, China, Cuba, etc.). Thus, Orwell's warning is relevant, and his portrayal is eerily accurate.
2. While the United States and Britain are certainly not Oceania, 1984 does cause readers to ponder the implication of sacrificing personal freedom for promised security--a topic that has affected both the U.S. and Britian (and other "free" countries). Consider the Patriot Act in America or increasingly invasive airport screenings all in the name of security.
3. Today's readers should pay close attention to the Party's use of the working class (the Proles) in 1984, because many modern governments also use the working class for their own agendas. If one thinks of the members of labor unions all voting the same or a government's increasing the working class's dependence upon it (so that citizens will feel indebted to and helpless without the government), this is what Orwell warns against in the novel, especially when Winston thinks about how "happy" the Proles are and how they readily accept whatever the Telescreen tells them.
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