Monday, April 6, 2009

Falling Apart

"All three men sprang to their feet to join in the struggle round the lifts, and the remaining tobacco fell out of Winston's cigarette." (pg. 63)


"It had been on the tip of his tongue to say "Except the proles" but he checked himself . . . "The proles are not people..." (pg. 53)

The proletariat is defined as the lowest social class, especially a class of works who sell their labor. In 1984, the Proles make up a huge percentage of the population (75%) and are generally left alone by the Party and the other Party members. Winston knows that the only way that the Party would ever be overthrown would be if the Proles rose up and took over. Orwell's characterization of the Prole reflects the idea if the people of the world remain content while politicians take over, the only way to reverse it is to rise up again. Orwell's serves as a warning against the government gaining too much power and the role of the Proles is to warn the world against being apathetic to the government gaining too much power.



"...[H]e would exist just as authentically, and upon the same evidence, as Charlemagne..." (pg. 48)

Charlemagne was a masterful ruled of Europe in and 700's and 800's. He unified much of the Roman Empire to include France, Switzerland, Belgium, the Netherlands, parts of Germany, Italy Spain and Austria. Again, Orwell's reference to this leader is kept in the historical records to show him in a positive light and compare him to Big Brother.


Julius Caesar

"...[H]e would exist just as authentically, and upon the same evidence as . . . Julius Caesar." (pg. 48)

Julius Caesar was a famous Roman leader who brought the Roman Empire to one of its greatest times of affluence and expansion. He had a romantic relationship with Cleopatra, the infamous Egyptian queen and last of the Ptolemy line to rule in Egypt. Caesar was killed in the Senate by two of his cloest associates, Brutus and Cassius, along with sixty conspirators. Orwell's reference to Caesar shows that while much of history has been rewritten, there are some things that remain intact. The Party most likely uses older historical references as a warning or a higher stander to hold things too. Much like Big Brother is perceived to have done, Caesar took control of his land and lead them to greater "prosperity."


The Times

"Winston dialed "back numbers" on the telescreen and called for the appropriate issues of the Times..." (pg. 38)

The Times referenced here refers to the UK Times newspaper. Orwell's inclusion of this piece of pop culture points directly to the fact that even as times change, there are something, very few things mind you, that never change. In a world that is almost unrecognizable to the modern eye, Orwell reminds us that there are things that never change, which may or may not be a good thing. While the Times is still the British (or Airstrip One) newspaper, it is no longer a real newspaper, only a tool of the Party now.


Ministry Names

"... [T]he ministry of Truth, which concerned itself with news . . . The Ministry of Peace, which concerned itself with the war . . . The Ministry of Love, which concerned itself with law and order; and the Ministry of Plenty, which was responsible for economic affairs." (pg. 4)

In the 1984 universe, the Ministries that govern Oceania have names that are the opposite of what they are-- the Ministry of Love is the harshest ministry and deals with torture and punishment, nothing like love; the Ministry of Truth constantly rewrites the real truth and lies continuously about what's going on the in the real world. Orwell's naming the ministries after the opposite of what they stand for makes a statement about the world he has created. There is no real truth in Oceania because nothing is what it seems or is supposed to be.


"...[A]lternately covering and uncovering the single word INGSOC." (pg. 2)

Ingsoc is the Party's word to represent English Socialism, the doctrine that the Party professes to practice. As part of their control of Oceania, the Party has implemented the use of their new language, Newspeak. Like they do with technology, the Party also uses language as a control of the people. They take words that mean one thing and turn them into completely different things and even eliminate words all together. Orwell's idea that by controlling language, you can control thought is very important to 1984. If the Party can rewrite language and completely get rid of any word that expresses an idea of rebellion or a controversial thought, they can get rid of the actual idea or controversial thought all together.


"The instrument (the telescreen, it was called) could be dimmed, but there was no way of shutting it off completely." (pg. 2)

In 1984, the theme of technology as a means for evil is a prevalent theme. The telescreens are a big part of the technology by which the government controls the citizens of Oceania. Orwell wrote his novel in a time before computers, but his complicated mechanisms in the 1984 universe are way ahead of their time. They allow constant moderation of the citizens and keep them all in fear. Orwell turns technology into a tool of fear to warn the reader that anything, even something positive like innovation technology, can be used as a weapon if put into the wrong hands.

Big Brother

"... [T]he face of a man of about forty-five, with a heavy black mustache and ruggedly handsome features. Winston made for the stairs." (pg. 1)

One of the most important characters in 1984 but who never appears, Big Brother has the most important effect on Winston-- he represents the Party and everything that Winston wishes to rebel against. Big Brother is never physically seen by any of the characters in 1984, but he is seen in the posters and during the television programs put on by the program. Orwell's decision to never have Big Brother be actually seen by any of the characters adds to the mystery and fear that should be associated with Big Brother. No one really knows the truth about Big Brother, only the Party lies about him. Orwell's "Wizard of Oz"-kind of characterization of Big Brother even keeps the reader in the dark about him, making sure that the reader responds to him the same way a citizen of Oceania would.