How does 1984 represent power?What danger does George Orwell' s novel 1984 warn us against?

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timbrady eNotes educator| Certified Educator

There are almost too many things to mention.  There are two that present the most immediate concern to me.  The first revolves around their "Who contols the present controls the past; who controls the past controls the future."  Since most of us are unable to study the past in great details, we rely on others to tell us about it.  Since we often use the past to justify/explain our actions in the present, it's clear that if someone can "change" the past (Winston's job), then they can control the future.  In our present world, we're told what Bush did, what Clinton did, we're told that some condition or other is the worst ever and told that we need "change" --- but do we ever really examine these statements? Jefferson was clear that you could not have a democracy without an educated public; not a public with degrees, but a truly educated populace.

The other thing I know Orwell was warning us about is the corruption of language.  In "1984" they have invented Newspeak, a language that takes away many of the words that differentiate some feelings;  they create new words that have new meanings, such as "ownlife."  Then they make ownlife a negative, something you are not supposed to have.  Since we can only think in words, taking away/controlling our language makes it impossible for us to do some kinds of thinking.  It's a type of politically correct language --- and there are signs of it in today's world too ...

ms-mcgregor eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Power is represented by the totalitarian rule of Big Brother. He tries to control every action and thought of the people of Oceania. People's movements are watched through telescreens and even their facial expressions are judged. If they show the wrong expression,they are guilty of a "face crime." The goal of the Party in charge of the government is to eliminate any kind of free will. People who violate even the smallest regulation are subject to severe punishment. There is only one place to escape this kind of control and that is in the "proletarian ghetto", where "crime and hunger are commonplace. The party refuses to allow any type of thinking that is contrary to theirs. Winston Smith, the protagonist of the novel, captures this concept when he writes, “Freedom is the freedom tosay that two plus two make four. If that is granted, all else follows.”