The Power of Big Brother
The sinister, mustachioed face symbolizing the Party's power is completely inescapable in George Orwell's parable of the future. When Winston Smith comes home to Victory Mansions, he feels the eyes of Big Brother on him thanks to posters on every landing in the stairwell. It is the same when he looks at a coin or cigarette packet. Each day, at the end of the Two Minutes Hate session directed at Emmanuel Goldstein, the Enemy of the People, all Party workers return to a state of calm when Big Brother appears on the giant telescreen, illustrating the near-hypnotic hold he exercises over the masses. It is just as Winston reads in Goldstein's The Theory of Oligarchic Collectivism: "[Big Brother's]function is to act as a focusing point for love, fear and reverence, emotions which are more easily felt toward an individual than towards an organization."
When Winston is arrested and separated from the corrupting influence of Julia, O'Brien strives to make the rebellious civil servant an empty vessel that will once again surrender to Big Brother's all-consuming love. And in the end, Winston gives in: "He loved Big Brother." Orwell uses this figurehead for tyranny to powerfully illustrate the effect totalitarian government can have on the human spirit.
Freedom and Enslavement/Free Will
Orwell’s 1984 is set in Oceania, a totalitarian state ruled by a god-like leader...
(The entire section is 2121 words.)
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As his final and perhaps most significant literary work, Nineteen Eighty-Four is often perceived as the inevitable culmination of Orwell's development as a writer and undoubtedly formulated as a creative entity over much of the last decade of his life. Consequently, the tone and thematic content of the novel suggest that Orwell was greatly influenced by the social and political events of the period. Stemming from his experience in Spain in 1936, Orwell witnessed a highly volatile world situation become increasingly more threatening to the existence of peace, liberty, and social order. Against the backdrop of the Moscow "purge" trials, the horror of world war, the subsequent division of Europe into Eastern and Western blocs, and the formidable reality of atomic warfare, Orwell created his nightmarish version of the mythical future.
The setting of Nineteen Eighty-Four is London, capital of what is now known as "Airstrip One," located in "Oceania." Analogous to the Cold War consciousness permeating modern society, Oceania is one of three countries comprising the world of the novel. Invariably at war with one another, each country is controlled by an oligarchy which has systematically and brutally eliminated the primary characteristics of democratic civilization. In this capacity, Orwell is clearly demonstrating his unmistakable repudiation of the totalitarian state. As the novel unfolds, the very essence of the human spirit is virtually...
(The entire section is 379 words.)