Lauren’s Library Nook: Power Hungry 1984
If there was a book that kept me on the edge of my seat throughout, it would be “1984” by George Orwell.
I read “1984” during my senior year of high school but not by my own choosing — although I am thankful for it now. My teacher assigned this classic as part of the AP literature class I was in and after previously reading other classics that were much less exciting, my hopes for this one were not high.
However, “1984” was the opposite of boring and has opened my eyes to one thing people are often oblivious to: government control.
The book says, “Always eyes watching you and the voice enveloping you. Asleep or awake, indoors or out of doors, in the bath or bed — no escape. Nothing was your own except the few cubic centimeters in your skull.”
“1984” reveals the corruption of government through the power of the Party and the influence they have on their people. I find this book not only compelling but feel that there are parallels to our government today.
The Party, or form of government seen in “1984,” is run by a mysterious figure known as Big Brother. The Party uses their power to control every aspect of Oceania and those who reside there: including the history, language, people’s thoughts and their individuality.
It specifically follows the life of Winston Smith, who hates the Party and keeps a diary where he journals his criminal thoughts — which is obviously illegal to do in Oceania. Through not only his hatred for the Party, but also his plan to rally against them and his love affair with a girl named Julia, Winston finds himself at a place called the Ministry of Love: a punishment for those who don’t think and act exactly as the Party requires.
Winston is tortured in the famous Room 101 through his fear of rats when a cage is placed over his head filled with ravenous rodents waiting to eat him alive. But humanity gets the best of Winston, and he pleads that the Party not torture him, but Julia instead. Winston is stripped of his own emotions and turns against the love he has for Julia — which is exactly what the Party wants.
What struck me most about the book was the amount of control the Party utilizes over its people.
For example, Winston works at a place called the Ministry of Truth. Despite “truth” being in the name, Winston’s job is to alter the historical records of Oceania so that they align with the Party’s narrative. When Winston reads that Oceania is allied with Eastasia together in a war with Eurasia, he questions this so-called time in history because he feels that this hasn’t always been true.
Thus, what was once deemed history is ultimately erased without anyone but the Party having a clue. Because of this, the generations to come will only know history that is inaccurate and will be living in a fabricated reality — without ever knowing it.
I also find the Party’s implemented language called Newspeak quite alarming. Newspeak attempts to limit free thought, speech and political diversity through a language that eliminates all words associated with those things.
As crazy as Newspeak may sound, there can be parallels drawn from the language itself to what we’re experiencing today — censorship.
Censorship has been a huge point of discussion on social media and on news outlets during the past year, especially on how big tech companies control the narrative in what their consumers are consuming. Whether it’s the news, entertainment, public information, social media posts flagged for review or who’s allowed to tweet on Twitter, there seems to be a reoccurring theme that follows the same narrative — one that is biased and unfair to those who think differently.
I’m not saying that we’re living through “1984” exactly, but I am saying that we live in a broken world where humans crave power — and our government, made up of imperfect humans, has that power. However, I believe we can learn from George Orwell’s story and the danger of leaning on a government that does not have the people’s interests at heart but instead the desire to build its own power.
Shank is the Editor-in-Chief.