July 9, 2009
Is Their World Really That Different? 1984 by George Orwell is a novel consisting of a world controlled by a higher power. A world where people live in constant fear of doing or saying something wrong and thoughts can be incriminating. Thoughts of impurity result in disappearance and people are constantly being watched and observed without knowing. Telescreens are everywhere and could constantly be watching every facial expression, abnormal body language and movement that is made. The telescreens can only be turned down, not off. A person can never escape the constant power of the telescreen or “Big Brother”. Posters are everywhere with the picture of a man and the saying “BIG BROTHER IS WATCHING YOU!” This was used to let the people know that no matter where they go, they could not escape the watching eyes of the controlling government. "If the Party could thrust its hand into the past and say this or that even, it never happened-that, surely, was more terrifying than mere torture and death" (Orwell 34). The people of Oceania could not escape to privacy no matter where they tried to hide. When I first started reading this book, I was extremely frustrated at how farfetched it seemed to be. However, the more I read, the more I began to understand that we are not far from a society much like the one in Oceania. We don’t fully realize how much the government watches us. They can track us through the signal in our cell phones and satellites in the sky can focus in our homes so close that they can see the decorations on our front doors. They know where we work, how much money we make and what we drive.
How are we assured that the government is truthful with us about everything? We have no way of knowing if the past they document is really accurate or just what they want us to believe. 1984 was a society much the same. Orwell tells the story of how dangerous a government with too much control can be. The people of Oceania believe what they are told to believe. Orwell states "And if all others accepted the lie which the Party imposed-if all records told the same tale-then the lie passed into history and became truth. 'Who controls the past' ran the Party slogan, 'controls the future: who controls the present controls the past" (Orwell 34). At first glance we think of this as unimaginable but a deeper look reveals an idea that is not so far away. Winston and Julia thought that they were in a secret place and had complete privacy. They trusted Mr. Charrington and believed that he hated the Party. They also trusted O’Brien and thought they were joining a group that would go against the party to try to make society a better place. Both people betrayed them and turned them in to the thought police. How do we know that we are in complete privacy and that some of our most trusted comrades are not out for some other cause? We are all beginning to live in a society without privacy. Even now we must be careful what we say in public and who we talk to. How do we know that there is not some sort of “telescreen” in our satellite televisions? We trust that the only thing coming through those wires are shows, movies and sports. We don’t know that we are not being brainwashed to believe something or being listened to or watched. The society of Oceania was divided into social classes much like that of ours. They had the Inner Party which