Describe the oppressive and depressing setting of 1984.

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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The bleakness of the setting only helps to confirm what Orwell sees regarding political institutions in the future.  Oceania is in a constant state of war with the other superpowers.  Such a perpetual state prevents any real sense of questioning on the part of the people and consolidates the central authority of the government over them.  It is for this reason that so much of the book is set in an atmosphere of gloom and depression.  The constant state of war that is engineered by the government and endured with forced celebration by the people makes life in Oceania depressing.  Winston, himself, experiences this in a hollowed out and dingy part of town that he calls his home. In general, life during war is bleak.  It is for precisely this reason that the setting is so bleak because few, if any, will question the state of affairs during war.  It is in the best interests of Big Brother and the party to submerge its citizens int war and all aspects of it.  In this, their lives will be lived in muted and silent depression, preventing any chance of rebellion.

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