What influenced George Orwell to write the novel 1984?

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pnhancock eNotes educator| Certified Educator

George Orwell's 1984 was written in the mid-to-late-1940s, coinciding with the beginning of the Cold War. Orwell, a lifelong socialist, aided the Catalan anarcho-syndicalists in the Spanish Civil War and witnessed the brutal violence directed by USSR-backed communist forces against the anti-Stalin Spanish communists. He returned from this experience with a strong opposition to Stalin and all authoritarian communists. There are several parallels in the book between the history of the Party and the history of the USSR, especially under Stalin's rule.

Like Stalin, Big Brother leads a totalitarian, oppressive regime that regularly brutalizes those who subvert it. Political prisoners were put in the gulags (forced prison camps) in the USSR, much like rebels against 1984's Party were tortured and brainwashed in the Ministry of Love. Another parallel between the USSR and 1984's government is the similarity between Emmanuel Goldstein and Leon Trostky. Both were proponents of socialism who disagreed with the totalitarian methods of socialist leaders—Big Brother and Stalin, respectively—and were exiled for their views. The principles of Goldstein's book seem to share some similarities with Trotskyist socialism, especially their warning against the authoritarian political trends of the time. Overall, 1984 reflects Orwell's fear of socialism becoming a repressive, authoritarian system after watching the USSR turn into a tyrannical state under Stalin.