1984 by George Orwell

The book Nineteen Eighty Four has been written enough about. The origin of the big brother is watching you is attributed to this book. And this book has been classified as a work of dystopian fiction. And there is a very good chance most of the readers would have already read this book. For the ones who haven’t – read it only if you can continue your interest in a serious novel and a work of multitudinous ramifications. A friend called this book depressing. So caveat emptor. I found this book – interesting. And there are parts of the book where you can’t but appreciate the level of understanding of the human psyche that George Orwell presents. The part I and part II (i.e. sections within the book) are not as gripping as the part III.Very simply put, Part I is the time when Winston Smith (the protagonist, or is he indeed the protagonist ? Would O’ Brien, the man behind the party be the protagonist ? I guess it depends on how you look at the book – more further) considers himself the outsider, someone who seems to understand that there is something wrong with the life that he is leading. Part II is when he tries to break on to the other side (due apologies to Van Morrison !) along with his girl friend Julia. Julia’s character is a portrayal of a contradicting but not completely conflicting to Winston Smith’s character. She is a happy go lucky girl (sort of) who is willing to play along with the diktat but ensures that she sneaks out to have the kind of fun that she has. Part II ends with the big brother / party regime finding out that these two are deviating from the specified behavior and being imprisoned.

Part III is where the intent of the party and their means to indoctrinate people into the way of life that the party wants people to live in is presented. O’Brien is a party member who tries to fix Winston Smith. And the arguments to why Smith is not being killed rather being converted are very gripping. The Room 101 – the place not to be is where Smith finally ends up. This room is the final straw of torture – and not necessarily physical, and that is what is described, when Smith is to be tortured with large hungry rats. And this is to break his final belief that he is morally right, because he loved Julia truly – and when being faced with the torture with rats (which he loathes and is petrified about), he gives in to the regime and pleads that this torture be done to Julia – a signal that the man and his convictions were completely broken down. This part (part III) of the book is the most interesting and almost makes one questions one’s convictions. Even though Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World is also in the similar vein, 1984 is more psychological than Brave New World. If you were to ask me to pick between these two books, I’d say 1984 is a lot more profound amongst the two. And one thing I noticed between these two books is that the vocabulary used is rather tough (or rich !). I needed a dictionary to understand some of the words !!! And while you are at it, I’d suggest you read George Orwell’s Animal Farm too. The texts for all of Orwell’s books are available for reading on the Internet (if you are someone who likes to read texts on the computer – I am still old fashioned, and like paper books 🙂 ). Also, another interesting read of his is the essay Why I write.

I don’t think I have described the various parts of the book as they deserve to be elucidated upon. There is so much to write about for each part. One can draw parallels with moves like The Matrix. When Morpheus says we think it is the year 2048 but there is no sure way of telling it, it resounds of what Smith says – I think it is the year 1984. And the explanation of NewSpeak, a language devoid of words and DoubleThink, a thought process where you can believe 2+2=5 are all a literary critic’s fodder for thought, and that I guess explains there are so many blogs about this book. If I were to rate this book, I’d give it a 7.5 upon 10. And I’d suggest this book to anyone who wants to read something more than a light reading.