Connecting ‘1984’ to 2014

During our first day studying the masterful novel ‘1984’ I gave you all a handout featuring an article that states, simply, that “We live in a world that George Orwell predicted” many years ago because his ideas “about a tightly controlled totalitarian future ruled by the ubiquitous Big Brother” are indeed “quite apt.”  America in the age of terror is, in many ways, a surveillance state wherein freedoms are often restricted and the government has vast amounts of legal and political power.  The Blog posts last time went well, and the general mode we adopted then is equally useful for a consideration of ‘1984’. So, for our final Blog of the semester, I want to work in a similar manner. This time around, I want you to:  1) Outline and explain a key idea or issue from Orwell’s novel. This could relate to politics, education, the media, or whatever you find interesting and important. Illustrate your chosen issue by quoting directly from the novel, and then offer some words about just what, exactly, Orwell is trying to say and why (especially as it relates to the post-World War II world in which he was living).  2) Detail a specific modern-day example or situation that the novel seems to suggest, or a problem it appears to bring to light. In other words, try to draw a connection between 2014 and the “future” Orwell was projecting in his imaginary ‘1984’, and highlight some important way in which he was, in fact, interestingly predicting the future. Then (and most importantly), please tell us a little bit about what YOU think about this particular issue. In what ways does your topic suggest we are – or are not—being watched by “Big Brother” and/or are less free than our Constitution might suggest?

10 thoughts on “Connecting ‘1984’ to 2014

  1. One of the key ideas or issues presented in Orwell’s ‘1984’ is education and how depriving the people of knowledge effects society. Orwell wrote, “Until they became conscious they will never rebel, and until after they have rebelled they cannot become conscious.” What Orwell is trying to say in this quote is that the people have been deprived of education and knowledge for so long that they are unaware of what is happening around them. Big Brother has everyone exactly where they want them because they have taken away the ability to expand their education. They have steadily decreased the amount of words in the Newspeak dictionary so that people become increasingly illiterate. In today’s society we are still deprived of all the knowledge we can obtain. For example, every history textbook in the United States is geared towards making the United States look better than it really is. Every step of our history shows how we were the underdogs in whatever situation we happened to get ourselves into. The textbooks only show the good, or the “American” thing to do. What the textbooks don’t show you is all of the nasty, inhumane things we did to others. They all glorify our country to implant the sense patriotism in the minds of the American citizens. I believe that the textbooks should give you every detail about what has happened in the past and not just what makes our country look better than what it really is.

  2. When Orwell is describing what Winston does for a living, he says how Winston has to basically “correct” old articles that were written to ensure that Big Brother and the party are always right. After correcting any written work, he has to throw the evidence in a “memory hole”, where it is then burned and gone forever. Because of this, history was constantly changing in Oceania. Orwell says, “All history was a palimpsest, scraped clean and reinscribed exactly as often as was necessary” (pg 51). This quote showed how history always got corrected for BB and the party 24/7, how history was a lie, and how their government always lied to the people. This relates to 2014, because the government constantly hides things from its people, just like Oceania. They almost rarely tell us the whole story and only show on the news what they approve of. The government also has secret files which only a select few know of. Even with education today, we are taught how America is always great and only ever did great things. In our textbooks, we are never taught any of the bad things America has done. Therefore, we do not know the true “history.” This proves how similar we are to the dystopian novel of 1984. I believe we need to be informed more often about what’s going on in the world, especially in our country, so that people can become less ignorant. After all, it is a citizen’s right to know what’s actually going on in their country.

  3. One of the key points that George Orwell is pointing out in his novel “1984” was that Big Brother could be watching you at any point and you will never know. In the book the posters say the “BIG BROTHER IS WATCHING YOU” (Orwell 3) and it is symbolizing how Big Brother could be watching you at any moment and monitoring your activities. This could relate to modern day problems of the government monitoring our phones, laptops, or any other electronic device. “Big Brother” could be watching us, or the Government, at any point and have no idea. The Government should not be aloud to monitor any person’s devices because they are breaking the amendments. There should be a limit to what the government is capable of doing and the line should be spying or collecting data on its own citizens. The topic of being monitored by the Government is a sign that we have less freedom than we would like to believe.

  4. 1.) One key idea or issue from Orwell’s novel was the psychological manipulation that the leaders were doing to the people. They used the “Big Brother Is Watching You,” posters to make people feel as if they were being watched constantly and they were even paranoid that if they thought the wrong things that they would be taking to the Ministry of Love to be killed. Also, the government changed records in history to make it seem like Oceania was perfect so people wouldn’t rebel against the party. Also, they used the telescreen to constantly play the propaganda to always make the Party seem like they were doing the right things and that they were the best. They used the telescreens to monitor what the people were doing to make sure they were obeying the laws of the Party and that they weren’t having thought crimes. They even started children up at a young age to monitor the adults, and make sure they were not going against the party. They were manipulated at a young age to start thinking that they party’s laws were correct. Lastly, the party doesn’t allow the people to engage in sexual activity so that they are forced to use all they’re frustration and hatred on the Party’s enemies. Orwell was trying to bring light to what totalitarian government was like in the most extreme way, and warn people of it.
    2.) A modern day example or situation that the novel to suggest that in the book there’s a constant war that is going on that seems to never end. Here in the world today it seems as if we have been with war with Iraq and Afghanistan it seems like the end of time. In my opinion, I don’t believe that we have a government that is going to change to totalitarian. In my I know that the government does spy on its citizens to the one who they feel are a threat. I also know that the government also, keeps a lot of things top secret too from the citizens. I honestly believe that’s as far as it will go. Other than that I feel America lets be free.

  5. In George Orwell’s ‘1984’ the key idea/issue centered on this novel is the idea of privacy and the surveillance of the government on its people. For example, in the novel, there’s multiple posters hanging up that says “BIG BROTHER’S WATCHING YOU” which the main character Winston feels is always watching him. Orwell is trying to say that there is zero privacy with the presence of constant surveillance from the telescreens and cameras spread out across the country. I believe this specific moment compares to our current society with the idea of the NSA and the people fearing whether or not they’re being watched by our metaphorical “Big Brother”. In relation to 1984, the citizens of our current society feel like they are being watched and spied on 24/7 by our government but specifically the NSA. I believe we are heading into a society of George Orwell’s “1984” and will continue to advance more and more into it while our Constitution will become faded and our “Big Brother”,AKA the government, will constantly keep us under surveillance

  6. An important issue that plays a huge role in the book 1984, is the dilemma of constantly being under surveillance. The fear of knowing that you are being watched is on everyone shoulders except for the proles; which limits their personal freedoms and privacy. This issue is involving the media and politics; politics uses media as a way to put their influences on Oceania. I feel like Orwell is trying to show the power behind the media, since he has seen it first hand, especially from the World War II propaganda that he was exposed to. Though things have not really changed in the terms of surveillance throughout the years; unfortunately it has truly increased. In America the common knowledge amongst the citizens is that we are under surveillance in the streets, in the terms of traffic. Though it is greatly possible for they’re to be plenty more cameras that are blind eye to the American public. I feel like what Orwell predicted is what we are today but not to the severity of that they are being monitor constantly and that punishment is obliviously near, like book suggest. I am okay with the surveillance we have today but if it increases like the novel shows, I would be against the idea in its entirety. I believe that since our government has not crossed the line, we are okay with it. We believe that their intentions are to keep us safe and to benefit their citizens but once it goes against our God given rights, that is when rebellion begins to appear.

  7. In George Orwell’s novel ‘1984’ the main character, Winston, is constantly talking about this power known as, Big Brother, that can be constantly watching them whenever. You do not know if you are being watched, but the pure thought that you could be shakes you up a little bit that you will end up conforming to act a specific way. Winston explains this by saying “The tele-screen received and transmitted simultaneously. Any sound that Winston made, above the level of a very low whisper, would be picked up by it, moreover, so long as he remained within the field of vision which the metal plaque commanded, he could be seen as well as heard” (Page 5). The thought of having no privacy is scary and Winston cannot remember times that were different because this place that they live in is constantly rewriting history, so people just assume that it is the correct way to live and it has always been this way. This is unfortunately a scary reality for us today, not to that extent, but we are living in the post- 9/11 world. Our government does need to watch “suspicious” people for the safety of our country, but how far is too far? We are supposed to be free, but unless you are part of the government you have no clue what is happening behind the scenes. I personally want to be safe, so I am ok with the government monitoring certain things, but it makes me uneasy that they have the ability to monitor absolutely everything. I think we could potentially live in a world, or we already are, where the government is watching our every move.

  8. Orwell’s ‘1984’ presents many key ideas and issues, but the one that I chose was the effect of media. Media in this book influenced the way people thought. There were several records of misuse of propaganda in this book. The burden of journalism, no matter the format, was used to inform citizens of facts, but it established a structure of direction. The detrimental psychological and sociological impacts of the media were expressed earlier on in the novel. For example, through Winston’s consciousness, he states a “transfer to paper the interminable restless monologue that had been running inside his head…for years.” Winston chokes up and does not know what to write because the though of writing was such a big deal. Winston lost creativity and the ability of expressing himself. No one needed to write or express him or herself because the media was doing it for them, which was under the Party observation. This is like today’s society. There are so many sources of media like magazines that people will read and try to be the person in them whether it is to look like, act, or even dress as a certain person. People look up and try to be the people in the magazines. The magazines are false propaganda like in the book and helps people loose their self-expressing. I believe people should stop worrying about what other people think of them and just be themselves. Every individual has rights that should be strengthen and not weaken by the media.

  9. One of the key ideas that Orwell talked about a lot in “1984” was the fact that the media spread propaganda. This directly ties into the main character Winston because that was his job at one point. He was forced to lie about not only the war but also how “Big Brother” was flawed. They only wanted the citizens of Oceania to know so much. Now relating 1984 to 2014 is pretty easy because there are a few topics in the book that are seen today. One is what I just mentioned above about the government only wanting us to know so much, there is so much more out there and going on that we don’t know about and probably never will. Also the whole idea of “Big Brother” watching you is in fact true. It may not be too that extent but the government does indeed keep surveillance on us. It is pretty sad hoe accurate Orwell wrote when he wrote 1984.

  10. One of the largest issues Orwell shows throughout this novel is how the government is watching everything you do. In the very beginning of the novel we are introduced to the telescreen, he tells us that “any sound that Winston made, above the level of a very low whisper, would be picked up by it; as long as he sat in the field of vision he could be seen and heard.” Privacy is a privilege that these people have never experienced, they are all constantly being watched and listened in on. If it isn’t a telescreen you have thought police who can convict you of a crime of thinking the wrong things. We are seeing more and more of this invasive act in today’s society. Cameras are popping up everywhere you look, at almost all times you are being recorded and you probably don’t even realize. We live in a society today that is slowly resembling this novel in the way of the government is spying on everything we do. Our searches through the internet, phone calls, text messages, emails, all of these things the government can get into and look through with you even knowing. I do believe that we are less free then people want to believe, just to get onto an airplane you have to be treated as if you are the criminal they are trying to protect us from. In most cases I believe that they do things to try to protect us but we are slowly giving up our privacy and freedoms in order to prevent something we don’t even know will happen. If we are not cautious and if we do not stand up for our personal rights things could take a turn for the worse, turning into a society like the one he describes.

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