George Orwell, the pen name of Eric Arthur Blair, wrote this book “1984” in the year 1949. In the book, he describes a totalitarian and tyrannical government that exerts control over all aspects of the lives of its citizens. You are not free to think, say, or do anything that does not suit the propaganda of the government.
Tele-screens monitor what you do and write. Microphones record what you say. Historical texts are altered; lies are spewed by the government-controlled media as facts; language is simplified and vocabulary restricted to limit the freedom of thought and diminish critical thinking of the citizens. Continuous surveillance by the Big Brother becomes a norm, as the Thought Police target the dissenters and break their spirit in Room 101.
The novel follows the life of one Winston Smith whose job is to rewrite old newspaper articles in the Ministry of Truth so that the interests of the government are served. Tired of his life, he longs for freedom, decency, and truth. He seeks love and finds it in his companionship with Julia. The couple is eventually caught and sent for re-education in the Ministry of Love. Big Brother is always watching, you see!
The re-education breaks Winston’s spirit and he comes out a changed man: docile, conforming, and harmless.
This book is a must-read for everyone, especially because of the times we live in. Technology makes it possible for the governments around the world to monitor what we think, say, or do. Bots are able to shape public opinions on a massive scale. The 140 and 280 character limits on social networking sites have damaged our capacity to think critically and empathise with others.
Criticising the government is now equivalent to criticising the country that makes one an anti-national in many countries now where politicians with the active help of media houses and technocrats are revising histories and past events to suit their political agenda. The situation is so bad that many are forced to ask this question:
Are we really free?
Rating: 5 out of 5
Recommendation: Of course, read! And also write about it. More people need to read this.
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Categories: Reading Room