1984, by George Orwell, is a novel based on the life of Winston Smith. It tells the story of how
Winston goes about his life in a totalitarian community and is severely punished for defying the laws and government. The movie Equilibrium narrates the struggle that John Preston faces when he falls in love with Mary O’Brein and becomes involved with the resistance movement, when he himself is an officer dedicated to stopping such movements.The novel and motion picture can be related to the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution’s Bill of Rights because of its central theme, to warn people of the negative affects of human nature. Its other themesthe dangers of totalitarianism, the pursuit of happiness, control of mind and media/ propaganda, and the structure of society assist in the relationship and comparison of the documents to the movie and novel.
The dangers of totalitarianism is a theme that links the movie and documents to the novel. A symbol of this in the book is Big Brother, the representation of the government, and Father, in the movie, which is also a representation of the government. A proof of the symbolic meaning that the figure has to the Party is shown in the quote, “...Big Brother is the embodiment of the party.” (p. 259). Further evidence is given in the quote, “Big Brother is the guise in which the Party chooses to exhibit itself to the world.” (p.208). In the movie it is stated, “Father is law, Preston”. The first amendment of the constitution states, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances,” this is clearly not a liberty given to the population in both the book and movie.The Declaration of Independence declared in the preamble that, “[people] are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty...” which, again, is a liberty that is negated to the people in the book and movie.
In the movie, people are not allowed to feel and in the novel there is no religion and people are not allowed to criticize the government. This directly contradicts what is stated in the constitution and declaration because the people have no freedom of speech and religion and freedom in general. The theme, the dangers of totalitarianism, ties into the first amendment and preamble because they were made for the purpose of preventing a totalitarian community from forming. These documents gave people the right to a liberty that included the right criticize the government, worship freely, and the right to do what one wishes, while still accepting the consequences of ones actions, which strictly contradicts with the laws and “liberties” given to the population of both the book and movie.
The pursuit of happiness is also a theme that ties the book to the Declaration of Independence,
Bill of Rights, and Equilibrium. Winston’s happiness is symbolized by the paperweight he buys at the antique store. This shown in the quote, “The paperweight was the room he was in, and the coral was
Julia’s life and his own, fixed in a sort of eternity at the heart of the crystal,” (p.147). Winston is pursuing his happiness by being with Julia, even though he knows the consequence of it is death. This is a freedom that is stated in the Declaration of Independence, “We hold these truths to be selfevident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.” Preston’s, the movie’s main character, happiness is symbolized by Mary’s ribbon. “Are you not then carrying in your left pocket a red ribbon sprayed with her [Mary] scent, that you breath in when you think there’s no one to see,”