What makes a classic

Finished 1984!

And I think it’s simple to see what the story is about, showing that every good story does not have to have some hidden meaning, that it can be obvious and still have an impact.

1984 is primarily about politics. Actually, strike that. George Orwell is mainly about politics. 1984 explores the idea, consequences, and necessary criteria to enforce a totalitarian government. You know this because:

  1. The main character you identify with questions the government: why it exists, how it exists, why everyone plays along like ignorant sheep.
  2. Orwell spends time writing a book in a book – book inception! – about the history of their politics and why a totalitarian government is inevitable and preferred.
  3. The secondary character who forces the main character to conform, thereby explains and reiterates the ideas of what’s necessary of the people in order to fit into society.

Even though I do not enjoy learning about politics, never quite understanding why it exists, I still enjoyed this read. I have to admit, it did get slow within the portion of the book, mainly because it almost started to read like a textbook with the book inception. But this was still an interesting book, and I think it would be great if teachers pulled this into history classes during their discussion of politics.

My favorite part  – besides the creation of Newspeak – was the reversal, or hidden nature, of all the buildings, concealed behind the creation of doublethink, where you know something to exist as a fact one way but its contradiction is also true through belief.

The Ministry of Peace concerns itself with war, the Ministry of Truth with lies, the Ministry of Love with torture, and the Ministry of Plenty with starvation. These contradictions are not accidental, nor do they result from ordinary hypocrisy: they are deliberate exercises in doublethink. (Orwell 222)

This whole society only exists because of ignorance, deliberate and forced ignorance. While society moves forward, history creates itself, but in order for Big Brother to always be right, history must be changed to reflect Big Brother’s perfection. This means that while the citizens experience the history, they must deliberately put it out of their minds and accept this new truth. Citizens are not allowed to live unless they do this.

It’s the job of the thought police to monitor all the citizens and keep them in line, making sure they always participate in this skill of doublethink. I think this is what bothered me about the book. For most of the time, I was lead to believe there are thought police, and the character was constantly under the fear of do they or don’t they exist? I think at some point, me and the character were convinced they don’t and then BOOM! He gets kidnapped, and we find out they do exist. But, it’s never explained how they exist. I don’t know if it’s because I’m scientific or what not, but it really bothers me not knowing how. Are they psychic? Is this some technology?

I don’t know, maybe I’ll never know.

TLDR: I think this book is a good example of how to incorporate theme and analysis, through the use of your character’s own examination of the thing in question, while also using them as a tool or victim within the theme as well.

Orwell, George. Nineteen Eighty-Four. Centennial ed. New York, NY: Penguin Group, 2003. Print.


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