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Essay/Term paper: 1984: summary

Essay, term paper, research paper:  George Orwell

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1984: Summary

Nineteen eighty four is a tale of future society, a society in which independent
thinking is a crime punishable by death. This is also a society who's leaders
are self serving and don't set their goals for the common good by which all of
the society will benefit. The party doesn't need to justify its selfish ways
because it holds all of the power. The symbol of the party was Big Brother. The
idealism of blind loyalty was embodied in this symbol. It was the centre of
control. The Party has set its agenda of completely controlling every single
human mind by narrowing down the complexity of human thought. They will try
accomplish this through the elimination of speech to a form where humans can no
longer think for themselves. These future citizens would not be able to commit
any crimes against the Party. There is no possible way these humans would even
think "criminal" thoughts to begin with since they had no knowledge of any crime
from personal experience or history.

The main character of this book is Winston Smith. Even though he is portrayed as
a criminal, I believe that he is a victim of a system that is criminal. All
through this book Winston's convictions lead us to believe that he is ethical
and the Party is unjust but it is left up to the readers discretion to decide
whether he is the criminal or just a victim of a totalitarian society. The first
instance of Winstons "criminal" nature was when he bought an illegal journal,
quill and bottle of ink to record his thoughts. Although he had so called
"criminal" thoughts before, the journal seemed to bring out the more daring
ideas in him as to how to get free from the Party's reign. This all indirectly
led to his meeting with a woman called Julia who shared his feelings and was
either very brave or very foolish because she was more open then he about her
feelings. I believe that these and the other actions following his initial
"criminal" offence are justified and that Winston Smith is not a "criminal".

My first set of examples as to the flaws in the Party government are how they
pitted family members against each other, and how the true nature of the family
was destroyed because of this. The controlling intentions of the Party were
reflected in how children were used to spy on their parents. The toys given to
the children such as ear horns were used to listen in on the conversations of
their parents. Through groups and activities that were provided , the children
were actually taught how to spy and were given justification for this act. They
were given the title of "Child Hero" when they denounced their parents and
reported them to the thought police. The children felt it was perfectly
acceptable to inform on their parents to the authorities even though it meant
punishment for their mothers and fathers. When Winston was in jail he met a
colleague named Mr. Parsons who's child turned him in for saying " down with big
brother " in his sleep. Husbands and wives were also affected. They would
report their spouses or children if they said anything improper, did anything
improper, displayed a facial tick or any other abnormalities.

The Party took away the basic pleasures of their people, as another method of
control. One example of this is how the food was intentionally very bland and
tasteless. There is an account in the book where Winston is in a public
cafeteria and longingly remembers a better time and how food was pleasurable
then. Another example od pleasure deprivation is how they brought sex down to a
level where the general public was repulsed by the thought via the anti-sex
league. The public continued having sex as it was the will of the Party that
people must reproduce. The degradation of sex also kept the married and
unmarried alike brimming with energy for hate week, war marches and other
fascist public activities which the people had to attend. A specific example of
the degradation of sex in Winston's life was the account he made in his journal
of his wife's attitude towards sex and how she cringed at his touch. She called
sex "our duty to the Party" or "making a baby". Because of his wife, he became
as repulsed at the idea of sex with her as she was with him. Winston recalls
becoming physically sick at the mention of it. Winston wasn't satisfied with the
status quo regarding sex. It eventually led to their divorce.

It is important to mention that there were two classes of people, Party citizens
and Proles. What rules apply to the Party citizens did not necessarily apply to
the lower class Proles. They government did not care about the Proles who were
not important to them. Although Proles were allowed to drink any alcohol and
gamble, this was not acceptable for Party citizens. This was part of the denial
of pleasure.

In order for the people to believe the Party's perversions of the truth, the
Party had to make their fiction reality. The Party slaughtered people ,burned
books, shredded and altered documents in order to control information. Winston
Smith's job was to alter old government documents, birth certificates and many
other things. Winston was a willing part of this deception until his realization
that what he was doing was immoral. His troubling conscience drove him to record
his feelings in his illegal journal as part of his personal rebellion.

The ultimate deception that the Party perpetrated on the people was the war the
Party staged against it's own citizens using a created villain named
Goldstein.( It's interesting that this Jewish name was given to a villain in
this novel written in 1947 by a Party modelled after Hitler's fascist Germany ).
To keep it's economy going Oceania had to be in a constant state of war thus the
Party's creation of Goldstein. This character broadcasted "criminal" thoughts
for two minutes each day and enraged the citizens to the point that they gladly
went to war. The Partys goal was achieved. This calculated deception lead to
senseless suffering and death of numerous Party citizens and Proles.

At the end of this novel the reader is left with the decision of where the crime
lies. This decision is subjective. Democracy is a model of government which I
have chosen to compare. It is the same style of government which both the author
and myself have experienced and it is the one which serves its people the most
effectively. If you believe in social order at any expense as do fascists, then
you will have to believe Winston Smith is a criminal. If one takes a more humane
approach, you will have to look at the numbers of people that were hurt or
killed by this "Party Government's" actions.

Humans are a social animal and they need interaction and contact with other
humans to thrive. The uncontrollable need to belong to a group sometimes drives
people to compromise themselves. A common example of this is a teenagers choice
of music, clothing etc to belong to the group. A more extreme example are
religious cult members such as David Koresh's Branch Dividians who even
voluntarily excepted the order to kill themselves. People become willing to
accept the unacceptable until there conscience will no longer allow it. This is
what happened to Winston Smith. He was a product of his humanity and it should
not be a crime to be a human.


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