Friday, August 2, 2019

Nineteen Eighty Four Essay

Nineteen Eighty Four is George Orwell’s nightmare vision of the future. Written in 1948, at the end of World War II, Orwell simply switched numbers for his future view. The opening chapter is very effective in the way that it straight away lets the reader know the style of the novel. The opening is a description of post-war London, and the introduction of the main character. Orwell saw the evil in the war just passed, and wrote about it. The imagery used can all be linked to the war or London. The novel is not personal, with more reference to the party and regimes, Orwell was a political writer, an extreme socialist. He is criticizing any political regime, socialist or fascist. Right from the outset the author intends to draw attention to the setting. The chapter is typical of the book as a whole; describing Orwell’s dystopia. The main character we are first introduced to is Winston Smith. This is a common, English name, showing that Winston is in no way separate from the majority. The name â€Å"Winston† can be linked to Winston Churchill, who had just lead England through the war. Along with the name, Winston is not presented as a hero, as one would expect of a main character. Winston is â€Å"thirty nine and had a varicose ulcer above his right ankle† and is incredibly unfit, â€Å"resting several times† on his way up the stairs. We are not, however, given a personality for our hero; we have to wait until part II of the novel to get personal detail. The opening passage introduces us to life for Winston. The settings described are not pleasant. Outside, there is a â€Å"vile wind† and â€Å"a swirl if gritty dust. † Inside Victory Mansions, where Winston resides, for it cannot be said that he â€Å"lives†, it is not much better. â€Å"The hallway smelt of boiled cabbage and old rag mats. † This gives the impression of rotting and deterioration. Everything is rationed; this is a reference to the war. â€Å"The present electric current was cut off during daylight hours. † Winston uses â€Å"blunt razor blades† and â€Å"coarse soap. † There is no colour described in the opening, the picture of the settings in the reader’s mind are black and white, therefore giving a sense of a grey, unhappy world. The people of London are not free. There is an imposing poster everywhere one turned, bearing the caption, â€Å"BIG BROTHER IS WATCHING YOU. † The man in the poster, â€Å"the face of a man of about forty-five, with a heavy black moustache and ruggedly handsome features† could very well be Hitler or Stalin, another reference to the war. There is a sense of being watched, â€Å"the enormous face gazed from the wall. It was one of those pictures so contrived that the eyes follow you about when you move. † The notion of Big Brother is introduced to us in the first ten lines of the novel, this clearly shows us where Orwell’s intentions lie. We are introduced to the concept of â€Å"Hate Week,† although no further detail is given. Orwell writes of it as though it is an every day event and nothing obscure should be thought of it. Big Brother is the antithesis of Winston, strong and powerful vs. frail and weak. The reader gets the impression Winston could never overthrow the party, although we are not yet introduced to his rebellious side as he does not yet have a character. We are introduced to the party slogans. The set out of them is a triangle, representing hierarchy, authority. The words are oxymorons, War and Peace, Freedom and Slavery, Ignorance and Strength. The words are ironic when used next to each other. They are each the antithesis of the other. If you take away people’s knowledge, you can tamper with their minds, as shown in the last slogan. Once inside Winston’s flat, we are introduced to the telescreens, furthering the notion that no one is free. There are helicopters that look into the houses and the telescreens that watch you. There is a description of a â€Å"dulled mirror† but mirrors cannot be dull, or the view would be distorted, this is another message from Orwell showing us nothing was clear. We get more description of Winston, still nothing personal, and still anti-heroic, â€Å"a smallish, frail figure, the meagerness of his body merely emphasized by the blue overalls which were the uniform of the party. † We get the impression he is not well. Everything he can see from his window is unpleasant, â€Å"the world looked cold,† it was â€Å"torn† and â€Å"harsh. † References to the war are frequent. The â€Å"Ninth Three-Year Plan† is ironic, because it would not be possible, and the Three-Year Plan relates to the plan Germany had after the war. The houses are describes as â€Å"rotting,† and â€Å"their sides shored up with baulks of timber, their windows patched with cardboard and their roofs with corrugated iron. † This is war-torn London. The place Winston lives, Oceania is at war. Orwell suggests the war is just a tool used by the party to keep the people oppressed. We are introduced to the Ministries. Their descriptions are the antithesis of the houses described. They are described as â€Å"startlingly different† and they are a wonder to look at. The Ministries are of Truth, Love, Peace and Plenty. The irony lies in the fact that the Ministry of love was the frightening one. Things were done with military precision, even the time is in twenty-four hour clock. The Ministries were guarded by uniformed, armed guards, â€Å"gorilla-faced guards. † Orwell uses alliteration to emphasize how imposing and horrible they looked. Another war image. The opening chapter is very effective in making the reader wan to read on, as it makes you feel you are reading history. This is because we are reading with hindsight. The reader feels they want to get to know Winston better because of what they have so far read. Orwell is effective is his opening because the settings are so well described that you instantly get a mental picture and are intrigued by the contrast between the war-torn London so well known and the surreal idea of helicopters looking in windows. It makes the reader wonder what might have happened had the war turned out differently, and Orwell’s Big Brother, Hitler or Stalin, had been successful.

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