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A totalitarian form of government is one which tries to control every aspect of life including a person’s private life, how people spend every minute of their time even in private, who they can associate with or what they are allowed to say. A totalitarian government even tries to control what people think and what they believe.
George Orwell wrote 1984 in 1948; what he knew about totalitarianism what based on the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany, those governments had been introduced recently at that time and they were not well understood then. Orwell tried to give the reader a clear picture of what life would be like if a free country like England were under totalitarian rule. 1984 takes place in London, the London in the book is a depressing place; there is never enough to eat, the food is disgusting; there are not enough clothes or shoes to go around or anything for that matter and the city is pretty dilapidated except for these giant shaped pyramid building that rise above the landscape.
There is some sort of war going on that nobody clearly understands what it is about, rockets frequently explode and blow people into bits. The worst part is that the government is always watching everything that people do. There are these posters of BIG BROTHER who is supposedly the leader of the government that say “Big Brother is watching you”. There are thought police who have cameras and microphones literally everywhere. The government can watch you in your home through your TV screen and you are not allowed to ever turn off the TV.
There are a lot of things that people are not allowed to do in this society and if you do them the thought police might take you away and throw you into a forced labour camp. People are not allowed to have close friends, be in love or date or have sex with the person you want. The people are basically supposed to save their energy for the “Party”, the party being the government. As there are things that people cannot do there are things that you have to do. People have to watch the government programming on TV, most of its news and some of its exercises. People have t attend pep rallies including this one called the “Two Minute Hate”. So the people have hardly any time to even think of their own thoughts because the party is constantly filling their heads with propaganda.
The main character in 1984 is Winston Smith, he’s 39 has a job in the government and lives this horrible dreary existence without any friends or pretty anyone in his life at the beginning of the course he start writing a diary to talk about how much she hates life in his Society even though writing a diary is one of those things should be killed for doing if you were caught. But this diary is his place for thinking about his Society it’s a place where he tries to imagine if life could possibly be different from the Way It Is. there’s nowhere for him to know if things were ever different before because the government has changed all the records of the past and rewritten all of the history books.
At the beginning of the novel, there are two who Winston cares about and he doesn’t even know any of them. One of them is Julia. Julia is this attractive young woman who works in the same building as him, and she’s some kind of mechanic. Winston basically hates her because she’s pretty and he can’t have her but he also thinks that she’s the sort of person who would turn him into the police. so he’s afraid of her but also sort of fascinated. The only other person he’s interested in is this portly guy named O’Brien who’s a member of the Inner party that means he’s a boss and much higher up than Winston.
Winston should be afraid of this guy but he gets the sense that O’Brien is intelligent so he has this yearning to be friends with him. He thinks of O’Brien would understand how he feels about life. the book takes a turn one day when Julia slides him a note which says “I love you” this now completely rocks Winston’s world, of course he’s interested he can’t wait to get in touch with her but it’s very hard for them to say two words to each other in private with all these spies and cameras everywhere.
Finally they manage to get out to the country in the woods and start this Mad Love Affair. The Love Affair makes them both very happy it’s dangerous because they can be killed or sent to a labor camp if they get caught but that makes it more exciting. at last Winston has someone who understands him and who hates the party as much as he does but when needs to go that extra step. He is rebelling against the party privately by having the secret affair but now he wants to go to the next level and the actively rebel against the government. he gets his chance one day when O’Brien invites him to his apartment to look at something work-related, Winston takes a leap of faith and guesses that O’Brien must be a part of the rebellion because no one invites people to their home. So he and Julia go to his house and confess that they want to be rebels and O’Brien says “yes I am a rebel too and we all read this book that explain why things are the way they are.”
Winston reads the book and he is blown away by it unfortunately right after he reads it the thought police bust in arrest him and Julia and carry them to the ministry of love to torture them. Then he learns that O’Brien was not a rebel after all he just wanted to catch Winston. In the ministry of love they torture Winston in all sorts of horrible ways. They break his bones and teeth, they use electric shock and starve him and on and on. He tells him everything he knows and confesses to everything they say, even to crimes that he did not commit and also he tells them everything he knows about Julia.
After torturing him over and over again O’Brian finally tells him what the Party wants what they want is total power over the minds of the people like Winston. They want people like Winston to say that 2+2=5 if the government wants them to say that and really believe it and not just say it to prevent torture. For the government it is purely an exercise of power. They are not trying to control his mind for some other purpose it is just an exercise of total power over people’s minds. They finally do break Winston completely in this room called 101 where they do whatever it is you are most afraid of. They put Winston’s head in a cage full of rats and threaten to free and let them make their way through his head. He has a phobia of rats so he loses it and says “do it to Julia not to me.” Which is the complete betrayal of what is most important to him.
The government has taken his last shred of integrity. After that they let Winston and Julia go. The thought police do not care about them anymore. The two of them meet outside but they cannot love each other anymore. Winston and Julia are broken people after they get out. Winston has changed to the point that he is afraid to even think about anything rebellious anymore. He just sits in a café listening to the news and smiling. The last words of the novel are “He loved Big Brother”. One of the points the books make is that a human can be broken down completely until he will believe whatever you tell him even if it is 2+2=5 . At the same time the book has appositive message which is that it is really hard to get inside someone’s head to that extent as the government has to go to incredible lengths to brainwash Winston successfully.
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