The book Nineteen EightyFour is one of the most significant political novels written throughout the course of the twentieth century. It's work that had a substantial impact on the world. The objective is to first study in brief from where did his political and literary ideas came from, then how he has established them in his book. In order to analyse Orwell's where ideas originated, first the understanding of what they are must be known and his motives. Orwell wanted to inform English society about the increasing smugness of the time, as he thought it could result in the emerging of governments such as the Bolsheviks or the Nazis.
It would be an artificial perspective to say Nineteen EightyFour was written as a prophecy of what was going to happen. Instead, he wrote it as a satirical observation on politics of the time; he was aiming to satirize the growing popularity of the government. 1. When reading the book, one may completely associate it with communism and may think it was targeted at it as the book subtly references Russia's Bolshevik government. Instead, his work is targeted at oligarchy. The USSR was an example of oligarchy or totalitarian state, and therefore it is reasonable to think it was an attack on socialism, or the British government: "Ingsoc".
Many people saw it that way, mainly because it was written in such problematic time but Orwell did not mean to do that. He denied that it was a hit against Socialism: "My recent novel is not intended as an attack on Socialism… but as a show-up of the perversions to which a centralized economy is liable and which have already been partly realised in Communism and Fascism [… ] I believe that totalitarian ideas have taken root in the minds of intellectuals everywhere, and I have tried to draw these ideas out to their logical consequences.
"2 It is an important fact that none of the ideas that Orwell explores in his work are new to him, nor to anyone else. They are all thoughts and concepts that he has examined in detail and possibly in a context that is more "realistic" through letters, journalism, and essays of the past. We can see in his past work as in Nineteen EightyFour, This crushing of the human sprit and of the individual, the corruption that power brings, the physical horror of existence, and the inevitable tyranny of those who rule without control or accountability.
3 For example, almost all of the ideas that he explores regarding the role of language in politics can be found expressed in his essay "Politics and the English Language" which was written in 1946, well before the novel. 4 Of course it would be foolish to think that the book is made up exclusively of Orwell's ideas, and if we are to examine the genesis of the ideas that Orwell writes of it is vital to consider this. Orwell does in fact owe many of his political ideas to the writings of John Burnham, in his work: "The Managerial Revolution" 5
For example, the idea of the world being divided up into three super states of Eurasia, Eastasia and Oceania, is one that was explored first by Burnham, although of course when his text was written it seemed likely that the victorious party in the European war would be the Germans, and so they would dominate the European continent. Orwell does however claim that his inspiration for this political system came in 1941 through the Tehran Conference between the Allied forces of World War 26 though this seems somewhat unlikely.
It is also from this same work that the pyramidal structure that Orwell uses in his novel was devised. With a divine leader at the top (Big Brother) who is actually representative of a group of elite leaders, and a collection of near slaves at the bottom of the state's hierarchy. 7 Consequently, it is from these texts and others that Orwell's ideas were spawned, but we must now ask ourselves: into what did they develop? How does Orwell attempt to influence the reader to the political ideal that is described above?
A novel of any type is composed of a range of features and stylistic techniques, which are unique to an author, and it is through these that the writer of a work explores his or her ideas and beliefs. In Orwell's book, these ideas are political ones, and it is the central purpose of this essay to look at how they are explored. These are features such as: the setting of the novel, the characterization, the narrative viewpoint and the language and style used in the authors prose. We will now look at these in some detail.
Firstly we will examine the structure of the novel, at first glance there is little unusual about the structure, it is a series of relatively short chapters that make up 3 parts, each of which coincides with a new part of Winston's life, indeed that is why they are separated and so, it is to allow the author to clearly separate these three stages in the events of the book. This furthers the distinction between Winston's world before he finds Julia, and after he finds her, and then his life after capture by the thought police.
Orwell does this for two reasons, to add to the importance of Julia in the readers mind, and also to add to the dissimilarity between what is already a horrible world before capture, and the hellish environment in the cells of the Ministry of Love, more than that it means that the reader can distinguish a new segment of Winston's life beginning, contributing to the feeling that this is where his life will be lived out for the rest of his days.
This serves Orwell's political purposes by further demonising the government, and adding to the feeling that they are omnipotent and malevolent. Aside from this the structure is relatively simple and chronological, aside from a handful of flashbacks to his mother and sister, however these come in the form of dreams and so do not actually affect the chronology of the book. There is one final item of significance in the structure of 1984 and that is that Orwell's use of essays in his novel.
It should be pointed out that Orwell was principally a journalist and an essayist and so he was used to writing his political commentary in the form of an essay, during the course of writing the novel he has evidently found that the fictional medium, with its restrictions of plot, was to simplistic to adequately express the complex political ideas that he wanted to portray in his text.
Consequently he manipulates the plot in order to allow him the chance to write an essay on the politics he wishes to discuss without actually diverging from the plot at all; this comes in the form of the essay on "The Theory and Practice of Oligarchical Collectivism". Orwell uses this to say exactly what he wants to say without disrupting the progress of the plot. The other essay in the novel is of course the appendix on the language structures of Oceania; one thing that is often overlooked about this final essay is that it is in the past tense, example:
"It was expected that Newspeak would have finally superseded Oldspeak by about the year 2050"8 This is a subtle implication that perhaps this world has indeed come to an end, although this is so subtle as to be almost unintentional by the author, and it makes me wonder what Orwell had in mind when he wrote it this way, as it certainly does not fit with the theme that O'Brien proclaims whilst interrogating Winston: "If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face, forever.