Lots of writers try to envisage the future. They usually write it as a distopian environment. It has even become a literary tradition to write from the point of view of a rebel trying to break free from his distopian world. Usually the writers imagine that the world has been taken over by technology, like in the Matrix. Some things, that writers imagine start to become eerily true- like in 1984 George Orwell thought we’d be watched by telescreens, instead we are watched by Closed Circuit Television. George Orwell is the author of one of the most famed distopian books, 1984. What are writers trying to tell us about our future and more importantly our present?.
George Orwells world is run by Big Brother. He is the leader of the government for Oceania, which is called the Party. The world is being seen through the eyes of Winston Smith who is in the outer party. He is inquisitive and curious about the world he lives in. Winston works in the Ministry of Truth. One day, among his work papers he finds a photograph of three self confessed agents of Eastasia ( a country Oceania are at war with) when they were meant to be on enemy soil, but really they were with some other members of the Party. “It was curious that the fact of having it in his fingers seemed to make a difference even now, when the photograph itself, as well as the event it recorded was only a memory” (pg. 82) The Party keeps changing the past- “The past not only changed, but changed continuously”(pg. 82). To Winston it seemed that he was the only one who noticed everything was changing.
There was always a war between Eastasia, Oceania and Eurasia, these are the three powers. At the start of the book Oceania are at war with Eurasia and are in alliance with Eastasia. “In no public or private utterance was it ever admitted that the three powers had at any time been grouped along different lines” (pg. 36)Everyone in Oceania would say that they had always been at war with Eurasia. But Winston remembers when “Oceania had been in alliance with Eurasia” only “Four years ago”(pg. 36).
” ‘who controls the past’ ran the party slogan ‘controls the future: who controls the present controls the past'”(pg. 36). People would know that the wars change but the lies which the party tells them they believe with the help of a process called doublethink. Doublethink is a process in which if, for example, Oceania were know at war with Eastasia in a split second you had to forget that Oceania were ever in alliance with them and think that there had never been a war with Eurasia. “To be conscious of complete truthfulness while telling carefully constructed lies”(pg. 37).
In Goldsteins book “the Theory and Practice of Oligarchial Collectivism” he writes that “War is waged by each ruling group against it’s own subjects and the object of the war is not to make or prevent conquests of territory, but to keep the structure of society intact” (207). This means the wars are continual and will never end. Because when there is a war there are more jobs and less resources and citizens have less money and free time. So people won’t get more educated and start thinking that the Party is wrong. Instead everyone is suffering and is on the brink of hardship. And the war makes them give up luxuries so they won’t be happy.
Newspeak is a language which will be the official language of Oceania in 2050. Their current language is Standard English or Oldspeak. The language doesn’t include words such as honor, justice, morality, internationalism, democracy, science and religion and lots of other similar words.thisis because when Newspeak becomes the official language no one would be able to think of anything that the party doesn’t want them to. So if you wanted to say in Newspeak “All mans are equal” in Oldspeak that would mean the same as “All men are red haired”. The word equal in Newspeak still means the same but it expresses a palpable untruth-i.e. that all men are of equal size weight or strength. “The concept of political equality no longer existed and this secondary meaning had been purged out of the word equal”(pg. 323).
So in the future Thoughtcrime would be practically non existent because there are no words that would be slanderous to the Party. In every party members home is a telescreen. Proles tend not to have them as they can’t afford them and they don’t need to be watched. Telescreens do resemble televisions except there is only one channel and you can never turn it off. Everything on the telescreen is run by the Party. You can be watched and heard by telescreens. This is shown when Winston does his excersize in front of the telescreen in the morning and the woman on it shouts at Winston “6079 Smith W! Yes, you! Bend lower please!” (pg. 39). When Winston goes to O’Briens house he turned his telescreen off “We have the privilege” meaning inner party members.
Across the hall from Winston lives a couple and their children. Winston went over to unblock a drain for Mrs. Parsons and he met their two young children aboy, nine and a girl aged seven. Winston thought their flat looked “battered, trampled on” and it looked like “Some large violent animal” (pg 23) had visited it. The two children were wearing the uniform of the spies which is red neckerchiefs, blue shorts and grey shirts.