Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell

nineteen-eighty-four-by-george-orwell

**Spoiler Alert! If you want the ending of this book to be a surprise do not continue reading, no matter how alluring this bold, starred disclaimer is.**

Nineteen Eighty-Four completes the triad of classic dystopia books, joining A Brave New World and Fahrenheit 451. Unfortunately Nineteen Eighty-Four is my least favorite.  Reading Nineteen Eighty-Four honestly made me nauseous. While A Brave New World and Fahrenheit 451 leave the reader with some semblance of hope; a glimmer of faith in the human condition, Nineteen Eighty-Four does not.  I like to think that the human spirit cannot be completely destroyed. Maybe I’m naive, but I don’t think that if faced with pain I would wish it upon someone I love.  I think that there is a part of us that the government cannot touch.

Nineteen Eighty-Four is set in a society completely controlled by the government.  Having emotions against the party is considered dangerous.  Everyone is under constant surveillance, even within their own home.  The protagonist, Winston, remembers life before the party was in power and wishes to return to that time.  He lives in a world full of disgust, fanaticism, and anxiety. Winston carefully begins to rebel against the party with his illicit girlfriend, Julia, who also is an enemy to the party.

Once Winston is captured by the party he is tortured mentally and physically,(at one point putting his face in a rat cage to be devoured unless he surrenders himself to the party) until he is able to be reintroduced into society.  He is no longer a danger to the party. He betrays everyone, including Julia.  By the end, he is only capable of loving Big Brother. He is unable to muster up emotion for other humans. He has been indoctrinated beyond return.

I don’t think that the human soul is that weak. I don’t think torture can distort human nature so much that they would betray those they love.  I think George Orwell is wrong. I’m not scared for the future, so long as human beings retain their ability to love, we’re going to be okay.

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