George Orwell’s thought-provoking novel, 1984, deals with a political dystopia that results from the establishment of a ruthless and authoritarian regime. 1984 deals with the robot-like nature of a society where human rights have given way to a totalitarian society. It is though this novel that Orwell shines light on the negative aspects of communism and also warns the readers against the stifling effect of an authoritative and non-democratic government.
The story of the dystopia is told through the vigilant eyes of a thirty-nine-year-old Outer Party member, Winston Smith. Being the member of the Outer Party, he is educated, unlike the proles, and possesses certain intellectual capabilities that help him vaguely discern right from wrong amidst the lies enforced by the Party on the society. And unlike the Inner Party members, he is not completely immune to the brutalities of the Party. This makes him the most adequate narrator of the story. As Winston slowly realizes his subdued nature in the society, the readers are also able to see the society for what it truly is: mechanical and impassive. Winston, being an average member of the society, helps in not only imparting more connectivity to the reader with the text, but also helps the reader understand the political system on which the story is based – Ingsoc.
Ingsoc (or English Socialism) is the most aggressive form of socialism that any government can adopt. It is through the depiction of the terrible social conditions under Ingsoc that Orwell warns the readers about the horrible effects of establishing an authoritarian regime.
Furthermore, the connotative meanings of the words that Orwell uses helps him to develop and build the warning in the tone of writing. The motif of evil and death is omnipresent in the story and is complemented by the use of connotative words like “grave” and “ghastly rubbish.” Orwell depicts the people of the society as brain-dead and emotionally empty – they are unable to invoke any feelings in themselves except that of blind patriotism that has been forcefully instilled into them by the Party. During one instance, Winston compares the rebels of the society – those who dare to think astray from the systematic beliefs of the Party and Big Brother – as “corpses waiting to be sent back to the grave.” This dark analogy implies that no one can escape from the clutches of the Party after committing a “thoughtcrime.” This motif of impending death that lurks throughout the story underscores the fatality of human nature under an oppressive government.
Another literary tool employed by Orwell to accentuate his warning against an authoritative political system is connotative diction. Words like “rebellion” and “liberty” that arise in Winston’s mind are a clear contrast to Newspeak, which is the language of Ingsoc. Newspeak was developed through English in such a way that it eliminated any possibility of thoughts about liberty and democracy and thus ensured that no citizen could ever possibly commit a thoughtcrime. The party used Newspeak as a tool to control the minds of the masses and hence, control reality. The brevity of Newspeak contrasts with the conscious and elaborate thinking of Winston, especially after he meets Julia, his lover, and becomes conspicuously rebellious. He constantly dreams of the past and even buys antiquated trivialities like an empty book and a beautiful coral paperweight from Mr. Charrington’s antique shop. Winston’s thoughts are intricate and abundant whereas Newspeak is concise and limited. This contrast illuminates the iridescent human nature in comparison to the rigidity of a totalitarian society. Just like Newspeak can only encompass Winston’s thoughts after he is ruthlessly tortured in the Ministry of Love; an authoritarian regime can only encompass its public though means of violence and inhumane control.