In the twentieth century, George Orwell’s 1984 became a definitive novel with unique terms that continue to be used in today’s societies. The dystopian novel is set in Airstrip One under the dictatorship of “Big Brother” who no one really knows exists. The English Socialist government persecutes individualism and independent thinking with constant surveillance of its citizens. Winston Smith, the protagonist, is a member of the Outer Party and works for the Ministry of Truth rewriting the past.
Elements in George Orwell’s life such as literature, wartime experience, heath problems, and a warning to society are among the multiple issues that contribute to writing 1984. Literature and authors had an influence in Orwell’s writing of 1984. One main influence is Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World. Orwell incorporates Huxley’s sleep teaching and hypnotic suggestions in the use of the telescreens and the Thoughtpolice broadcasting specifically targeted messages to people asleep. The telescreens “received and transmitted simultaneously [… any sound above the level of a very low whisper, would be picked up by it” (Orwell 3).
Orwell may have thought that the Thoughtpolice could simply speak to the sleeping subject without hypnotizing him (Dilworth 307). A second influential book in the writing of 1984 for Orwell was The Managerial Revolution by James Burnham. This book brought out the idea for “great super-states grouped around the main industrial centers in Europe, Asia, and America” (Gardner 110) for the setting of the novel.
The government in 1984 which politics’ consists of the struggle for power is originally from Burnham’s book (Gardner 111). A final novel that contributes to Orwell’s worldview and influenced his own novel was We by the Russian novelist E. 1. Zamyatin. Orwell reviewed this novel and saw it as superior to Brave New World. Orwell’s novel shares with We “a love relationship, truncated by the state, between two rebels” (Gardner 111). All three of these works gave Orwell inspiration to write what would become one of the most wellknown novels of the twentieth century.
The Spanish Civil War and World War II are both wars that were influential in the writing of 1984 for George Orwell. His fighting in the Spanish Civil War shaped his experiences that assisted in writing. During his time in Spain the notion of the “Two Minutes Hate,” (Orwell 14) the protagonist’s relationship with two other characters, and a future society based on organized lying became apparent to Orwell (Gardner 109). In World War II, Orwell spent time producing propaganda radio programs to be broadcast in India.
It was during this time that he began to concentrate on the idea of history and falsification. The scenes in the Ministry of Truth, where “political figures are suddenly deemed to be ‘unpersons’ and where rapid changes of wartime allegiance necessitate the hectic rewriting of history” (Hitchens online) come from British authorities massive force in India. In the novel, “war had been literally continuous” (Orwell 32) with the alteration of the past making it never end. The deepest and most nagging fear conveyed in 1984 is the fear of the disappearance of the past.
Orwell’s diaries during these war years can greatly enrich the public’s understanding of how he transmuted the raw material of everyday experience into 1984 and his other novels (Rodden 26). The years that Orwell spent fighting and working during two different wars contributes greatly to the writing behind 1984. In the later years of his life, George Orwell began to suffer through tuberculosis. Much of 1984’s blackness has been contributed to his poor state of health at the time.
Orwell even describes the novel as a good idea but the execution would have been better if not written under the influence of tuberculosis. Gardner writes, “It is hard to know whether Orwell meant by ‘influence’ something strictly physical, and by ‘execution’ matters of technique only, or whether he was conceding that his health had affected the books whole conception and atmosphere” (113). The protagonist of 1984, Winston, undergoes torture and long periods of timelessness, which has distinct undertones of hospital experience.
Orwell expresses his own brutality from his illness into his characters and scenes in 1984. When describing other prisons, Orwell describes himself with the words, “The thin shoulders were hunched forward [… ] to make the cavity of the chest, at a guess he would have said that it was the body of a man of sixty, suffering from a malignant disease”(272). Winston’s thinness results in the novel from brutality and deprivation but resembles the state of a man terminally ill. It was during this time of sickness that ideas such as “freedom is slavery” (Orwell 16) were slowly taking shape in his mind. Hitchens online)
All the time that Orwell spent ill and hospitalized all contributed to the publication of 1984, which he outlived by only seven months. Various settings and elements in 1984 are based on Great Britain and its government. George Orwell made the setting and life of the novel, Airstrip One, a modified version of post-war England (Rankin 190). Much of the novel’s general physical setting—”a gray, gritty, depressing London of shortages, inconvenience, ruined building, and occasional rocket bombs” (Gardner 112) —derives from the actual London of war years.
The living conditions are poor with the “buildings dilapidated, the food synthetic and rationed out, wages poor, and clothing shoddy” (Orwell 25). Orwell constructed the enormous Ministry of Truth as an exaggeration of the wartime Ministry of Information housed in what at the time was the tallest building in London. It has been suggested that Orwell’s fictional term “Big Brother” derived from the name of the Minister of Information, Brendan Bracken, known as “B. B. ” to his subordinates.
Orwell’s fictional abbreviations—Miniluv, Minipax, Minitrue, Miniplenty-copy the real telegraphic address used by the Ministry of Information, “Miniform” (Gardener 113). The scene is laid in Britain in order to emphasize that the Englishspeaking races are not better than anyone else and that totalitarianism, if not fought against, can triumph anywhere (Rankin 189). George Orwell brings various parts of London and its government to the setting and elements of 1984. George Orwell believes that totalitarian ideas have taken root in the minds of intellectuals everywhere.
Totalitarianism is an objective, neutral term describing a particular type of political regime or form of government (Mantzaris 218). 1984 is not intended as an attack on Socialism or on the British Labour Party but as a highlight of the perversions to which a centralized economy is liable and which have already been partly understood in Communism and Fascism. Orwell’s intention and his political stance in the last years of his life are brought up with the publication of 1984.
The novel is an expression of his “irritation at the many facets of British Socialism and most particularly… t the drab gray pall life in Britain today has drawn across the civilized amenities of life before the war” (Rankin 189). Orwell fabricated a fictional reality that pretends to be a description of what would happen in 1984. The novel is functioning today as a sample of fiction but is formed by not only one but three worlds. One is the one where Orwell once lived and the world of today. Another is the world created by Orwell, which is the world for the fictional characters that live in that world.
The third is the fictional world created and enforced by the omnipotent Party, which ought to be considered as a true reality for the characters of the novel (Zolyan 140). The world of the novel, where “Big Brother is watching you” (Orwell 2) is on posters all around, comes from only a fear that Orwell could have about the future. 1984 is a warning not only to government leaders but also to society that the loss of individualism is the loss of freedom. George Orwell’s 1984 is a controversial novel that rose to fame in the twentieth century.
The dystopian novel is pieced together from parts of London and its government during and after the war. George Orwell wrote this novel not as a satire but as a warning of what the future could bring if not fought against. Elements in George Orwell’s life such as literature, wartime experience, heath problems, and a warning to society are among the multiple issues that contribute to writing 1984. George Orwell’s own experiences created a masterpiece that would be discussed for many years after his death.