1984’s main character is Winston Smith, a man who doubts the ethics of the over powering tyrannical government that rules Oceania, one of three superstates in the world of 1984. Big Brother, the given to the government in the book, has developed its own language, is at constant war with the other two superstates, and watches its citizens at all times. The book starts off with Winston slowly figuring out that Big Brother is not exactly what it seems and in this society thinking for yourself has become punishable by death.
As Winston’s rebellion progresses he begins to wonder if life has always been this way or if life had once consisted of a government which allowed people to think for themselves and be individuals. He could not remember very well as to what life was like before Big Brother came into existence, only bits as pieces of his childhood could be recollected, but nothing to establish any solid evidence of there ever being another type of government other that Big Brother.
Oceania, Eastasia, and Eurasia are the three battling superstates. Each has an identical government, one that is at a never-ending war with each other in order to gain complete power over the people that live there. They did this by using methods developed by past dictators such as Stalin, Mussolini and Hitler. Big Brother manipulates its citizens into making them think the way that they want them to think. However, instead of only using brainwashing techniques, Big Brother also uses Newspeak and telescreens.
Newspeak is the official language of Oceania, it was created with its only intention of abolishing all unorthodox thought, for example, the word bad is replaced by the word ungood. ‘ The telescreens watch all of the people that are allowed to be educated, at all times, watching for any action, word, or possible thought that could be unorthodox. These two Orwell inventions were foretelling that we see the equivalent of Newspeak every day in present day society when we are “politically correct. ” Telescreens are present in nearly every commercial institution, and sometimes in our own homes.
I think that Orwell may have been trying to warn America and all other countries about the control of over powering governments. When a coworker named Julia secretly approaches Winston, he learns that he is not alone in his belief that Big Brother is ungood. ‘ Winston and Julia become lovers and eventually begin to share their feelings of rebelliousness to O’Brien, another fellow coworker who is believed to be a member of a rebel group known as the Brotherhood. About two weeks later the shocking and disturbing turning point of the story is unveiled.
Here is where Orwell introduces the whole philosophy behind this book. Orwell also brings terror into the story when he writes about what is really behind Big Brother; Oceania’s government sends a representative into the plot. A government, very similar to many of the governments in our present society, is at the head of Oceania, and that is where the unmistakable reality of 1984 becomes obvious. The sole manipulative technique used by Big Brother is one that is virtually unrecognizable-mental deception.
Metaphysics, or the belief that there is existence beyond our comprehension, is represented by Big Brother when the reader learns about doublethink, the power of holding two contradictory beliefs in one’s mind at the same time and fully accepting both of them. Doublethink and metaphysics are the engines behind the three world governments, and is defined by O’Brien. “Reality exists in the human mind, and nowhere else,” says O’Brien. ” . . . In the mind of the Party, which is collective and immortal. Whatever the Party holds to be truth is truth.
Orwell ends the book with Big Brother arresting Winston. They beat him senseless on many occasions and continually torture him. This is not done to merely make him confess that he was committed a crime or even to make him say that he thinks that Big Brother is right. They have a way of torturing people in order to actually break the person down to where he can no longer tell what its true and what is not. When this is accomplished what they have is basically a shell of a man, unable to think for himself, they then reprogram his mind.
One example of this in the book is when OBrien, who is actually one of the leaders of Big Brother, uses a torturing device in order to make Winston believe that 2 + 2 = 5. Winston knew what OBrien was trying to do and tried to resist, but there came a point after many countless hours possibly even a day or two of torture that when OBrien held up four fingers Winston actually saw five. At the very end of the book they let Winston go, however, not before they were successful with reprogramming his mind. The very last line in the book is Winston saying, I love Big Brother.