A Chilling Prophecy of the Future

1984 is a thrilling classic novel by George Orwell that brings readers into a dystopian society where citizens know “Big brother is watching you.” (Orwell 2) The book follows Winston Smith as he secretly denounces the all-powerful government, Big Brother, and decides to live a daring life of scandals and secrets. As expected, Big Brother catches Winston, and tortures him ruthlessly until he is a shell of his former self. Although the storyline itself is exhilarating enough to make readers want to turn the next page, it’s really the larger message that makes this read so worthwhile: extreme political philosophies, like Big Brothers’ totalitarianism, are no good. I will admit at times I felt I didn’t even like Winston, like when he first saw Julia, his lover, and told her “I hated the sight of you…I wanted to rape you and then murder you afterwards.” which shows misogyny in the most unsettling way, and when he kept dismally repeating that “there was no escape” from death because of his love affair (Orwell 120, 152).

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Regardless of whether or not the characters are relatable, the book definitely serves as a cautionary tail to all those who have scanned it pages. This book has many horrifying elements and scenes, such as telescreens, the things constantly watching people even in their own homes. Newspeak, Big Brother’s official language, is also very unsettling, as the government controls what people say and think without them realizing it, because the words to think bad thoughts do not even exist. However, limited language and stalking screens are nothing compared to the awful dehumanization that Big Brother inflicts on those who don’t agree with them. When brought to room 101 in the Ministry of Love (how ironic of a name), Smith was subjected to “the worst thing in the world,” as O’Brien recalled, almost killing Winston using his worst fear (Orwell 283). This turned Winston into what seemed like an animal with rabies, and after this punishment (in which he was spared death because he betrayed his lover Julia) he was never the same.

Perhaps, though, the scariest thing about this novel was that I didn’t find it all that scary. Many things Orwell brilliantly predicted are a reality now, like cameras in the pockets of nearly every person in a developed country that could potentially “see” and “hear” everything. Phones like the iPhone not only have fingerprints (for touch identification) but now are starting to delve into the world of facial recognition, and no one truly knows for sure where this information goes. We see far worse things than Winston saw in the Ministry of Love by simply turning on the news. Nations like North Korea have complete control over their citizens, and the saddest part is, these citizens are too shielded from reality to even know that there is something wrong with the way they are treated. People also have the tendency to blindly trust whatever the media says, which could just be another way us people are manipulated every day. It makes me wonder, is 2+2 really 4… or, because numbers are a concept created by man, could it really equal 5?

Time to buy old US gold coins

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