Political Attitudes Advocated in 1984 (AP PROMPT) 1987-Some novels and plays seem to advocate changes in social or political attitudes or in traditions. Choose such a novel or play and note briefly the particular attitudes or traditions that the author apparently wishes to modify. Then analyze the techniques the author uses to influence the reader’s or audience’s views. Avoid plot summary. Do not write about a film or television program.
The world sixty years ago as seen by George Orwell was a different place than the one we live in and experience today. Technology was quickly developing and become a part of daily life. Atomic warfare was still a new threat, and the aftershock of its use in World War II was still raw in everyone’s minds. Totalitarianism was seen as a social experiment of sorts, and not having yet experienced the Cold War, some of America’s great minds were still looking at these governments with an open mind.
Orwell thought that society needed to be forewarned about both the possible and real dangers of these issues, so his manifesto, 1984, was his call for social change, his call to respect the dangers that technology, war, and totalitarianism introduced. In 1984, George Orwell goes along the same lines as many other influential contemporary authors such as Kurt Vonnegut and Margaret Atwood to create a perfect negative utopia.
In this fictional society, Oceania, the government hands out cruelty, oppression, and propaganda as is they were food stamps, and every single aspect of the society, down to diary entries, private conversations, and even personal thoughts, is monitored by the Party through intrusive devices called telescreens. The Party uses everything at its disposal to enforce complete and utter control, from an editing of language to constant surveillance, from historical factual manipulation to physical and psychological torture.
As a result of the government’s inadequate ruling and constant manipulation, the members of the Party live in an urban, industrial hell. Orwell vividly and continuously demonstrates the effects of this broken society, and the picture he paints isn’t a pleasant one: Oceania is constantly at war, Party members must completely succumb to mindlessness and conformity to survive, the society is living in a state of decay and poverty, inequality is wide-spread and all consuming, and even the structure and loyalty of families is almost entirely dissolved.
The fact that Orwell’s Oceania is modeled after the totalitarian governments of the mid twentieth century is a thinly veiled one, and the critique of these societies is more than obvious. His message, though, isn’t reserved only for these communistic cultures; it’s also directed at us. The moral of the story isn’t just that totalitarian governments, psychological manipulation, and misuse of technology are bad, it’s also that we can’t obliviously sit back and allow such crimes against humanity to continue or even gain power in the first place.
Orwell’s warning is effective, too, because he wasn’t just creating a dystopia, he was literally suggesting that this fictional hell could become our reality in thirty-five years if we didn’t change the way we looked at things. We did make it past 1984 without devolving into this reality, but the social commentary presented is still relevant and will always continue to be, because the message really is to keep questioning the world around us and not accept any form of oppression, and that’s one that is important enough to keep in mind for the entire foreseeable future.