How does the poem "It is Dangerous to Read Newspapers" relate to the themes in 1984?
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Atwood's poems and Orwell's themes connect to one another because both works speak to the perpetual condition of war that strengthens those in the position of power. The government of Big Brother in Oceania and the world about which Atwood writes her poem are settings in which the condition of war benefits those who are in power. In Orwell's work, war is the way in which Big Brother is able to control the thinking of Oceanic citizens. Citizens of Oceania are perpetually subjected to war, and in doing so, there is a strengthening of the government for blanket patriotism and blind loyalty become the results of a constant war- like state. In Atwood's poem, the speaker is unable to escape the conditions of war that surround them. "The hasty pits," the "detonated red bombs," and "the jungles are flaming" are all conditions in which the speaker sees war as a permanent part of their being. From childhood to adolescence to adulthood, the speaker cannot escape the condition of war.
The actions of the individual seem to diminish in the condition of war that surrounds them and envelops them. Winston is shown to be powerless to stop the machinery of government, and thus stop the propensity for war. The speaker in Atwood's poem is also revealed to be in the same predicament. Each keystroke that the speaker wishes to invoke to speak of "peaceful trees," the result is a reality of war in which "another village explodes." This becomes the thematic backdrop for both works, one in which war benefits those in the position of power while becoming a perpetual reality for the individual trapped within it.
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