you made was overheard, and, except in darkness, every movement scrutinized.”
(Orwell, Book 1, Chapter 1, 9)
Nineteen Eighty-Four is a dystopian novel by a notorious British writer George Orwell. Written in 1948, the novel describes a strictly totalitarian society that exists in a fictional state of Oceania. Although Orwell himself believed the novel to be fictional, satirical and exaggerating things, it is hard to deny that the world and society described in 1984 has a lot in common with real historical events. More than that, the novel undoubtedly reflects, criticizes and comments on the current state of affairs not only in existing totalitarian countries but also partly on the situation in democratic countries of Europe and America. Therefore the novel is given much prominence by scholars and literary critics. The issue is burning and it was found important to comment on the problem.
Nineteen Eighty-Four is a novel depicting a totalitarian state and totalitarian politics. It is the world where three powers (Oceania, Eurasia, and Eastasia) adopted totalitarian socialist ideology and fight with each other in order to keep the Party’s privilege on power and ordinary people unawares of real state of events. Orwell described the society where life of every individual, and especially lives of Party members are strictly controlled by Big Brother, a nominal leader of Oceania. Every house is equipped with so-called telescreens which are both television and cameras with the help of which state can simultaneously conduct surveillance and impose propaganda, “keeping the population passive and the leadership firmly in control” (Kirn, “Little Brother is Watching”). The society is divided into three main parts: the Inner Party, the Outer Party, and the Proles. The last two groups make up for 98% of population and constantly suffer from hunger, numerous diseases, filth, lack on everything including food, clothes and even shoes. The ruined cities, scarce of consumer goods and horrible living conditions are viewed by the Party as the consequences of the Revolution and War but in reality have the goal of controlling people through fear and misery. More than that, in 1984 Orwell describes the society where even people’s sexuality is under control of the state. It is evident that even the most horrible totalitarian regimes of Joseph Stalin (He is considered to be a prototype for Big Brother), Mao Zedong, and Adolf Hitler did not have such strict control over their population – the traits of totalitarian regimes were sarcastically exaggerated by Orwell. The author, however, did not write about the triumph of socialism and totalitarianism somewhere in Russia or China, he described the conversion of democratic societies as if he had had a plan to show that even democratic countries could be seized with totalitarian madness. When one tries to analyze modern democracy, he/she cannot help mentioning that some totalitarian traces exist in our everyday life.
The main trait of the 1984’s totalitarian regime is its full control over all sides of citizens’ life meaning that, in common sense, people are deprived of freedom. Let’s drop modern totalitarian states that exist, for example, in North Korea, and view the situation in free democratic countries. Are people really free living in modern democracy? There is a lot of evidence that in reality we have a little bit more freedom than citizens of Oceania. It has been mentioned that telescreens were the main instruments to control people by imposing what the Party wants. Do not we have these telescreens in our life? Of course, we have. Television and internet have made our life, in fact, public. All data about a person, all his/her bank accounts, phone calls, e-mails and so on and so forth can be obtained through computer. Street cameras do not stop working. It seems logical that governments have control over this information and can easily get rid of the person just deleting all his/her personal information without which you virtually cease to exist. Simply stated, every citizen, at least theoretically, can be monitored by state and it is no longer a fantasy of writer’s mind. The invasion into person’s private life has never been as easy as it is now. For example, “in New York in 2004 there were some 10,000 cameras” by which streets are constantly watched for the sake of the public (Keenan, “Birth of Big Brother”). The problem is nobody knows what these cameras can be used for and what they really look for.
Keenan, T. Birth of Big Brother. The CBC Digital Archives Website. 14 January, 2011. Web. 13 Jan 2012. Available at:
Kirn, W. Little Brother is Watching. The New York Times Magazine. 15 October, 2010. Web. 13 Jan 2012. Available at:
Orwell, G. Nineteen Eighty Four. Fairfield, IA: 1st World Library – Literary Society, 2004. Print.