1984 - by George Orwell

"If Winston's journal is discovered, it will result in torture and execution."

        1984, written by George Orwell expresses his profound consciousness of social injustice, his intense dislike of totalitarianism, and his passion for clarity in language. Orwell's purpose was to expound on the social problems resulting from a ruling, omnipotent, ultranationalist party. He writes in third-person present tense as a narrator with limited knowledge of the plot. Through the actions of the characters and their interactions with their surroundings, he exemplifies the outcome of an all-controlling ruling party.

       Through such programs as “Newspeak”, a euphemism for the systematic destruction and restructuring of language, the ruling Party controlled by “Big Brother” successfully limits the range of knowledge of a person. Their ultimate goal is to have such a limited range of words as to hinder the expression of free thought and eventually make it impossible. Another of the Party’s programs is the perpetual destruction and recreation of documents of the past. This makes it possible for The Party to create a fictional account of history. The Party continually synthesizes evidence to support said account. Thus, “whoever controls the present, controls the past”.

       Ministry of Truth bureaucrat Winston Smith is the main character. The story is three-fold. The first describes the world of 1984 as he perceives it; the second is his illicit romance with Julia and his intellectual rebellion against the Party; the third is re-education in the Ministry of Love. The intellectual Winston Smith is a member of the Outer Party, and lives in the ruins of London. As his parents disappeared in the civil war, the English Socialism Movement (Ingsoc in Newspeak) put him in an orphanage for training and employment in the Outer Party.

       Winston Smith is a bureaucrat in the Records Department of the Ministry of Truth, revising historical records to match the Party's official version of the past. Smith's job is perpetual; he re-writes the official record, re-touches official photographs, deleting people officially rendered as unpersons. The original or older document is dropped into a "memory hole" chute leading to an incinerator. Although he likes his work, especially the intellectual challenge of revising a complete historical record, he also is fascinated by the true past, and eagerly tries to learn more about that forbidden truth.

       His existence consists of living in a one-room apartment. He becomes discontented, and keeps an ill-advised journal of dissenting, negative thoughts and opinions about the Party. If the journal or Winston's abnormal behavior was to be discovered, it would result in his torture and execution at the hands of the Thought Police. However, he is blessed with having a small corner beside his tele-screen where he cannot be seen, where he can keep his own private secrets.
    Through his writing in 1984, George Orwell typifies the now prevailing perception of an all-knowing, all-controlling ruling party as a society eventually deprived of thought. Since the book is so focused on social theory, I would recommend the book only to someone who is interested in that topic.

    - John Mark R.