Nineteen Eighty Four, is a dismal and brutal dystopian novel about a future in which protagonist Winston Smith attempts to remain human.
‘If you want an image of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face forever’.
Winston, lives in a world without personal freedom but in an act of personal rebellion he begins to write a diary. ‘Thoughtcrime’ in Oceania society is one that is punishable by death.
‘Thoughtcrime does not entail death: thoughtcrime is death.”
Orwell created his novel as a warning to society about the dangers of totalitarianism:
‘What I have most wanted to do throughout the past ten years is to make political writing into an art. My starting point is always a feeling of partisanship, a sense of injustice. When I sit down to write a book, I do not say to myself, ” I am going to produce a work of art.” I write it because there is some lie that I want to expose, some fact to which I want to draw attention, and my initial concern is to get a hearing. But I could not do the work of writing a book, or even a long magazine article, if it were not also an aesthetic experience.
Why I Write’ 1944 article
Some of the themes of the novel that we have looked at are:
- the destruction of history
- the attack on sex
- the appreciation of the past
- the importance of memory.
- the attack on privacy
- the fallibility of the human mind
- individuality/freedom of thought and speech
- governmental control
- appearance vs. reality
Symbols discussed include:
- scarlet sash
- Room 101
- chess pieces
- art work
- nursery rhymes
More on Themes, Motifs and Symbols here.