"It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen." It is with these words that the reader is introduced to the ludicrousness of this highly visionary novel in which George Orwell creates a disturbing picture of the future. Orwell’s dystopian masterpiece serves to provide a warning to the generation of his time about the dangers of totalitarian government.
The premise of the novel is simple: by the year 1984, which may or may not literally be 1984, the world has been divided up into three major nations known as Eurasia, Eastasia and Oceania. The novel spends the whole of its time in Oceania, a society in which the Party rules and Big Brother reigns. The world of 1984 is a police state full of video screens watching all actions, manipulation of historical data to brainwash the masses, hate speeches to incite anger against Party enemies, and total elimination of anyone who commits the hated “thoughtcrime”.
However, under the idyllic peaceful life most people live, one man in particular knows something is wrong. Winston Smith is the unforgettable protagonist who sets out to expose the Party for the cynically fraudulent organisation it is. Winston is a character that readers can identify with; a kind of innocent in a world gone wrong. It is through him that readers are able to understand and feel the suffering that exists in the totalitarian society of Oceania.
I get chills every single time I read this. It is terrifying to think of a world in which your own children are spies for the government and can turn you in, where cameras are watching you 24/7, a world in which you live nervously worrying about whether the sensitive machinery that is watching you will pick up an increase in heartbeat that may incriminate you.