1984 is about totalitarianism.
A totalitarian government is to want to try to
control every aspect of life.
How people spend every minute of their time even in private,
who they can associate with,
what they are allowed to say.
A totalitarian government even tries to control what people think
and what they believe.
George Orwell wrote 1984
in the late 1940s.
What he knew about totalitarianism was
based on the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany.
Those governments had come into being not that long before
and they weren’t very well understood yet.
What Orwell was trying to do with 1984,
was to give the readers a clear picture
of what life would be like
if a free country like England,
were under totalitarian rule.
1984 takes place in London.
The London in the book is a depressing place.
There’s never enough to eat,
the food is digusting,
the running out of clothes or shoes
or anything to go around
and the city is pretty dilapidated.
Except for these giant pyramid shape government buildings
that rise about the landscape.
The some sort of war going on
who no one really understands what it’s about.
Rockets frequently exploded in the streets and blew people to death.
The worst part is that the government is always
watching everything people do.
There is a poster of Big Brother.
who supposedly the leader of government.
That say:” Big Brother is watching You.”
There are thought police who have hidden
cameras and microphones literally everywhere.
The government can watch you in your home through your TV screen.
And you’re not allowed to
turn your TV off ever.
There are a lot of things you’re not allowed
to do in the society.
If you do them, the police may take you away
and throw you into a force labor camp.
You’re not allowed to have close friends.
You’re not allowed to be in love.
You can’t eat or have sex with someone you like.
You’re basically supposed to say
of all your emotional energy for the party,
the party being the government.
Then there are things you have to do.
You have to watch the government programming on TV.
most of its news, some of exercises.
You have to attend pep rallies including
this one called the two minutes hate.
So it’s hard to even have time to
to think your own thoughts
because they constantly fill in your head with propaganda.
The main character of 1984
is Winston Smith.
He has a job in the government.
And he lives this horrible jury existence
without any friends or anyone in his life
At the beginning of the book, he starts writing a diary
to talk about how much he hates life in society.
Even though writing a diary is one of those things
should be killed for doing if you were caught.
The diary is his place for thinking about his society.
It’s a place where he tries to imagine
if life could possibly be different from the way it is.
There’s no way for you to know
if things were ever different before.
Because the government has changed all the records
of the past and rewritten all the history books.
At the beginning of the novel,
there are two other people who matter to Winston.
And he doesn’t even know either of them.
One of them is Julia.
Julia is this attractive young woman
who works in the same building as him.
She’s some kind of mechanic.
Winston basically hates her.
He hates her because she is pretty
and he can’t have her.
But he also thinks she is the sort of person
who will turn them into the thought police.
So he is afraid of her
but also so fascinated.
The other person he is interested in
is this portly guy named O’Brien
who’s the member of the Inner Party.
That means he is a boss
much higher up than Winston.
Winston should be afraid of this guy,
but he gets the sense that O’Brien is intelligent.
So he has this yearning to be friends with him.
He thinks O’Brien would understand how he feels about life.
The book takes a turn one day
when Julia slips Winston a note.
That says:”I love you.”
This note completely rocks Winston’s world.
Of course he is interested.
He can’t wait to get in touch with her.
But it’s very hard for them to say two words
each other in private without these spies and cameras everywhere.
Finally, they do manage to get out to the country
and they start this mad love affair.
The love affair makes both them very happy.
It’s dangerous because they could be killed
or sent to labor camps if they get caught.
But that makes more exciting.
At last Winston has someone who understands him
and who hates the party as much as he does.
But Winston needs to go that extra step.
He is rebelling against the party privately by having this secret affair.
Now he wants to go to the next level and
be an active rebel against the government.
He gets his chance one day
when O’Brien invites him to his apartment to
look at something work related.
Winston takes a leap of faith
and guesses that O’Brien must be part of the rebellion.
Because no one invites people over to their home.
It just isn’t done.
So he and Julia go to O’Brien’s house and
confess they want to be rebels.
而奥布莱恩说 “是的 我也是反抗者”
And O’Brien says:”yes, I am a rebel too
and we all read this book that explains
why things are the way they are.”
Winston reads the book and he is blown away by it.
Unfortunately, right after he reads it,
the thought police burst in and arrest him and Julia
and carry them off to the Ministry of Love to torture them.
So we learned that O’Brien wasn’t a rebel after all.
He just wants to catch Winston.
In the Ministry of Love,
they torture Winston in all sorts of horrible ways.
They break his bones and his teeth.
They use electrical shock.
They starve him and on and on.
He tells them everything he knows.
He confesses to everything they ask him.
He tells them everything he knows about Julia.
After torturing him over and over,
O’Brien finally tells Winston what it is that the government really wants.
What they want is to have total power
over the minds of people like Winston.
They want people like Winston to say:”
2 plus 2 equals 5 ,” and really believe it
not just say it to avoid beating.
For the government, it’s purely an exercise and power.
They’re not trying to control his mind for some other purposes.
They just want to exercise total power over people’s minds.
They finally do break Winston completely.
In this place called room 101
where they do whatever it is your most afraid of.
They lock his face into a cage
and threaten to let these rats eat away through his face.
He has a phobia of rats.
So he loses and says:”
do it to Julia not me.”
which is a complete betrayal of what’s most important to him.
The government has taken his last thread of integrity.
After he does that,
they let him and Julia go.
The thought police don’t care about them anymore.
The two of them meet on the outside,
but they can’t love each other any more.
Winston and Julia are basically broken people
after they get out.
Winston has changed the point
that he doesn’t even want to think about anything that might be rebellious.
他就只会坐在小餐馆 听新闻 微笑
He just sits in the cafe, listening to the news and smiling.
The last words of the novel all:”
He loved Big Brother.”
So one of the points the book makes is
that human being can be broken down completely
until he will believe whatever you tell him,
even if it is 2 plus 2 equals 5.
At the same time, the book has a positive message
which is that it’s really hard to get inside
someone’s head to that extent.
The government has to go do incredible links to brainwash Winston successfully.
For more information about 1984
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