I am required to create a seminar on the novel 1984, and compare certain problems that occur in the novel to similar problems that occur today in certain countries. I chose the country of Saudi...

I am required to create a seminar on the novel 1984, and compare certain problems that occur in the novel to similar problems that occur today in certain countries. I chose the country of Saudi Arabia, and I would therefore like to know how a lack of women's rights is evident in the novel 1984 (this is a serious issue in this country, therefore the comparison between the novel and the country would be very evident). Thank you for your time.

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thanatassa | College Teacher | (Level 3) Educator Emeritus

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The issue of women's rights is not as central to Orwell's concept of a dystopian future in 1984 as it is in feminist novels such as Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale; Orwell was more concerned with issues of freedom and social class than gender. In fact, in 1984 the Party attempts to minimize gender and sexuality, something quite different than the Saudi interpretation of Islam, which emphasizes very distinct gender roles.

There are, however, a few areas in which you could argue for parallels between 1984 and contemporary Saudi society. The first is the practice of arranged marriages. In Orwell's novel, relationships based on love are discouraged and considered subversive. In Saudi society, while love is not discouraged, and the ideal of marriage does include love, it is also true that marriages are typically arranged. 

Another area of similarity is that sexual misconduct such as adultery is punishable by death in Saudi Arabia. This, though, is not limited to women, but applied equally to both genders. The other area that is similar is that "thought crimes" in 1984 are considered heinous crimes, and blasphemy in Saudi Arabia is punishable by whipping or death. Again, though, in both the novel and Saudi society, this applies equally to both genders. 

   

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