Let us remember that, at the end of 1936, Orwell fought for the Republicans (against Franco) in Spain, where he was wounded. We know that Orwell's 1984 (published in 1949) was given this title because the novel was written in 1948, just after the end of the Second World War and the fall of Hitler's Nazi regime. At that time, Stalin's U.S.S.R. still deported the enemies of the Party to gulags and the Cold War between this country and the United States of America had just begun. U.S.S.R would remain the most totalitarian regime till Stalin's death in 1953.
As Orwell said, ‘every line of serious work that [he has] written since 1936 has been written, directly or indirectly, against totalitarianism and for democratic socialism'.
Considering those facts, how could we doubt that Orwell's novel 1984 – as well as his previous political allegory Animal Farm – is both a literary masterpiece and a treatise on politics and totalitarianism?
[...] The use of the phrase ‘Ninth Three-Year Plan' reminds us of Stalin's economic planning, the character of ‘Comrade Ogilvy, who had ‘died in battle in heroic circumstances' looks like the Stalinist hero Stakhanov and the use of the words ‘great purges' is also historically and politically significant. Orwell insists on the political notion of ‘collectivism', including the fact that individual does not exist any more except by the group, as is shown through the descriptions of community hikes and through the enlistment into diverse organisms (such as the ‘Junior Anti-Sex League'). [...]
[...] There is an emotional need to believe in the ultimate victory of Big Brother; but, in becoming continuous, war has even ceased to exist. The continuity of the war guarantees the permanence of the current order: in other words, is Peace' (which is one of the three slogans of the Party). The idea of a society that can only be hierarchical, including the fact that the three main strata Upper, the Middle and the Lower' are constantly fighting against each other, which is developed throughout Goldstein's ‘THEORY AND PRACTICE OF OLIGARCHICAL COLLECTIVISM', undoubtedly remains us of Marx's theory of class warfare (according to which the proletarians were irreconcilable with the bourgeoisie). [...]
[...] Orwell's greatest achievement to ‘fuse political purpose and artistic purpose into one whole' is perhaps, as far as I am concerned, his invention of ‘Newspeak'. This official language of Oceania has been devised to meet political needs of ‘Ingsoc' and is also supposed to be an artistic exploit, at least according to the Party ideology. The purpose of Newspeak is not only to provide a medium of expression for the world-view and mental habits that would be proper to devotees of Ingsoc, but also to make all other methods of thought absolutely impossible. [...]
[...] As was stated previously, Orwell really intends to show through his novel a faithful painting of real political life in totalitarian regimes, but 1984 would not be a masterpiece if its content and style were the same as those we could find in a political treatise. 1984's originality is indeed the fact it makes a large audience take an interest in deep political problems, because the book is as attractive as a work of art. Thus, Orwell does not hesitate to exaggerate some aspects of his novel, often playing on irony capitalists were fat, ugly men with wicked face ') and using specific stylistic processes (such as the simile ‘sheep-face'), in order to shock his reader I ever tell you [ ] about the time when those two nippers of mine set fire to the old market-woman's skirt because they saw her wrapping up sausages in a poster of B.B.? [...]
[...] As a final point, Orwell really succeeds in creating an atmosphere of suspense and tension throughout the whole book (the reader is quite shocked when learning that Mr. Charrington is actually a member of the Thought Police occurred to Winston that for the first time in his life he was looking, with knowledge, at a member of the Thought police'), the climax being nevertheless the final hopeless sentence loved Big Brother'. Short, easy and powerful, it haunts the reader even after he closed the book: is totalitarianism our fate? [...]
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