What are some similarities between Oceana (1984) and America now?

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Susan Hurn eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Oceana is far different from America today, thankfully, but some disturbing similarities can be found. The citizens of Oceana live under constant government surveillance; their every move is electronically monitored. Today, Americans live with daily electronic surveillance, although it is not all instituted by the government. We are observed and video taped in many locations: hotel elevators and corridors, ATM machines, bank lobbies, convenience stores, gas stations, casinos, and all high-security locations. We are not watched for political reasons, but we are watched. Many of our phone calls are routinely recorded; usually we are told they are being recorded, but they are recorded and stored in data banks. Recently, Americans have learned that their phone calls and emails have been retrieved and recorded by the government without court-issued warrants. This warrantless wiretapping by the government, regardless of its rationale, has been viewed by many as being reminiscent of "Big Brother."

The corruption of language in the novel (Newspeak) bears some similarity to the ways language is used today, to obscure or influence, rather than to communicate clearly. In 1946, Orwell wrote an essay about the corruption of language as it has developed. He found many similarities between the corruption of the English language and Newspeak.

timbrady eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The greatest similarity I see is the control of information.  Although some may wish to discuss this, I believe that in our last election the media presented only one side of the picture, the traditional liberal side, and not many people seemed to mind. Since Obama's election, he has gotten softball after softball.  Our present stimulus package hasn't gotten any real evaluation in the media, and, more importantly, wasn't even available to us before the vote took place

This is, in part, because there is now so much information available to us that it's almost impossible to verify it.  I heard an interesting example this morning.  In a poll about the 3 greatest presidents in our history, Lincoln, Kennedy and Regan were selected.  What happened to the old trio of Washington, Lincoln and Roosevelt?  Washington was clearly our most important president, yet he was not even listed in this poll.  Of course, this was just a poll, but you have to wonder what information people had to make them select Kenney, who doesn't have a great record of achievement) over Washington and Roosevelt.

It was probably easy to contol information in Oceania; there weren't that many sources that had to be "corrected."  Today's there's so much we still don't know what is "true."

I think we're a lot closer than we know.

connornewton | Student

There are many similarities between the world in1984 and ours today. For example, the Thought Police can be related to our regular police. I feel that the Thought Police have taken their unofficial laws and rules to a severe extreme and impressed the people so bad under them that they are forced to live in fear. Now-a-days, people actually live in fear when a cop is around. I don't think I've ever seen someone not say, "Look! It's a cop! Watch out!", or something to that effect in which they are afraid to act as if they would without the cop's presence. Therefore, both the citizens in our world and 1984's are forced to feel fearful and guilty when a face of authority is around, but obviously with the Thought Police it was a bit more stressful and strict. As stated in an earlier blog, I've also noticed that there is a large symbolic meaning to how "Big Brother" can invade the people's privacy in the novel, and how our government today can very well invade ours too. President Bush's passing of the Patriot Act enabled the random government officials to snoop around with our phone lines, therefore violating our freedom of speech in a sense. And, once again, in challenging our rights, we are forced to live under a stronger sense of fear. I feel that Orwell is really trying to say that our government and nation is and can become a dystopia, if we allow it to. The people need to take a stand and fight for their rights. If everyone remains silent, then no changes will take place. Speaking out is truly the key to getting what you want, and it will keep us from forming a dystopian lifestyle.