Possible spoilers ahead.
In an attempt to distance myself from the monotone of everyday life, I have been burying myself in books. I want nothing else but to escape into another world where other rules apply. But, most importantly of all, I do not want a sentimental coming-of-age book.
Although Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell fit the criteria mentioned above, it might not have been the best choice. I’ve heard a lot about this book, and it’s no wonder that it is a part of the curriculum in many countries. Some of the students in the English class at my high school saw the movie, but I didn’t, since I took that class in middle school (and it wasn’t part of the curriculum then). I really wish I was exposed to this book earlier, because it blew my mind.
What I found most fascinating about this dystopian world in this fiction was the concept of doublethink. It is a word native to the fictional language called Newspeak, the only language in existence that shrinks as it evolves, which I will come back to. Doublethink is the denial of an objective reality. It means that history can be altered. Since Big Brother is infallible, it is in control of the past, present and future. Nothing existed before the Party.
History has been rewritten innumerable times, to the point where the main character doesn’t even know the exact date and year. This means that history has stopped, because “nothing exists except an endless present in which the Party is always right”. This thought was uncanny. We take it for granted that the past cannot be changed, because yesterday is history, but what if this is no longer true?
This means that our memories aren’t real, or that they can become untrue. Luckily, we, as individuals, would always know whether the truth has been falsified or not, I thought. But, alas, about halfway through the book, this blissful idea was crushed, because crimestop will prohibit you from thinking any “dangerous thoughts”. It is imprinted in you as part of the discipline taught by the Party where you will stop the moment before you think anything that can be interpreted as against the Party. Almost like an instinct. It is described, quite cleverly, as “protective stupidity”. The people become mindless sheep.
However, if you choose to disregard the Party’s philosophy, the Thought Police will know, and you’ll suffer the same fate as the main character. The fact that the fictional language Newspeak becomes smaller and smaller can represent the direction the human mind is heading. Each dictionary edition contains fewer and fewer words – fewer and fewer thoughts. This reflects the idea that the ruling of the Party will be most successful when the people is simply incapable of understanding it. There will be no independent interpretation.
The author uses the analogy of a corn passing undigested through a bird to describe this. The people will swallow anything imposed on them by the Party, and it won’t harm them, because it won’t leave any trace behind.
The book makes a strong political statement, as it was published shortly after WWII, and it is still relevant to this day. I’m probably not adding anything new to the mountain of essays about Nineteen Eighty-Four‘s political aspects, so I would just like to say that the possibility of the Thought Police, as it is described in the book, becoming a reality is absolutely frightening.
Nineteen Eighty-Four is insane. I stopped several times to bookmark certain pages, because there were so many paragraphs and phrases that left me speechless. The ending will send a chill crawling down your spine. Read it and become enlightened. It’ll leave you hiding under your blanket.