1984: A Valid Prediction Essay, Research Paper
“I hate purity, I hate goodness. I don’t want any virtue to exist anywhere. I want everyone to be corrupt to the bone” (Orwell 102). This statement is one of many similar to it that are uttered throughout George Orwell’s book 1984. In this antiutopian novel, the people of society are viewed as sinful and untrustworthy. A serious of devices are used to monitor the citizens in this government run society. The novel gives a sad vision of the world of the future. When Orwell wrote 1984 in 1948, a strange coincidence, Europe was in the middle of World War II. “The war was unquestionably an important part of his [Orwell's] writing” (Williams 8). Orwell used his novel to speak out against socialism and classism. In a society ruled by a character named Big Brother, the citizens are not only told how to act, but how to think and feel. The governing force of the society uses fear and brutality to control its citizens. Many of Orwell’s predictions came true, and the majority of those that did not come true, are not very extreme. “Many believed these predictions to be those of a raving lunatic, I think not” (Leif 92). Although many of his predictions were not achieved in 1984, many are becoming reality in 1999.
In his day, Orwell’s predictions seemed outlandish, but today, many people would argue that his dreams have become reality. Although the world is not under complete control of the government, the leaders of today do influence the direction society goes. Increased technology has led to a highly monitored society, much like Orwell’s Oceania. Hidden cameras and huge satellites allow the government to view individual people and entire countries at one time. In 1984, devices called telescreens functioned as televisions and cameras, relaying government messages and surveillance footage to the “Thought Police.” In reference to the telescreens, “The instrument could be dimmed, but there was no way of shutting it off” (Orwell 3). Although modern society does not have a telescreen, it does have a television that influences the public through the media and commercials. Security systems in many stores carefully watch the behaviors and deeds of the public. Many programs on television show glimpses into the habits of the common people, intruding on their personal lives. Much as Orwell predicted, the idea of a private life is almost non-existent.
In 1984, actions, plans, or immoral thoughts about the government were severely punished. During the Cold War, Americans hunted for “Pinko’s,” or Communist sympathizers, and brought down harsh penalties on them. Even more similar to 1984, are the Salem witch hunts in which the accused were punished if found guilty, or punished for telling the truth in order to lessen the consequences of lying. In 1984, many citizens were arrested for having someone accuse them of treachery.
The people in 1984 were very patriotic, and this patriotism led suspicion. The increased love for Big Brother made families crumble and friends disloyal. Children became so pro-Big Brother that they would turn in their own parents and blood to please Big Brother. Any activity that broke from the normal routine of life was considered suspicious and grounds for arrest. Violators were taken to the Ministry of Love, an ironic name for a torture chamber. In American society, government has not separated the family, but in some smaller countries, children actually do implicate their own parents in conspiracy to damage the government. “The possibility of a world leader replacing the Divine Spirit seems inevitable” (Small 135). In Orwell’s novel, Big Brother is the highest being, greater than that of God, just like some citizens in modern countries view their leaders as the end of the line when it comes to authority.
Oceania is a world of no enjoyment or pleasure. Citizens work, eat, and sleep day after day after day, with no breaks for relaxation or fun. Even sexual intercourse is viewed as treacherous if pleasure is achieved. This behavior is merely for reproduction, no more, and no less. Big Brother and the government limit pleasure in order to limit disobedience, much like the Communist party does to control its peoples. In the modern United States, pleasure is a very profitable business, and is one of the largest contradictions to Orwell’s predictions.
However, all the order and conformity in 1984 did need a key figure. In this case, it is Big Brother. Big Brother acts as a focal point for the people of Oceania to look towards. He guides the people even though no one ever sees him in real life, all they see are pictures of him, which bring about the question of his existence. In modern society, people look up to their presidents and monarchs for guidance, not so much for religious and emotional reasons, but for help in following the path to better the nation. Big Brother gives his people hope and pride. On the contrary, the leaders of many nations today do not invoke pride and hope, but fear and mistrust. People in modern society to die for their leaders when the fate of the nation is at stake.
In 1984, suspicion and mistrust were very strong, much like today’s society. With improved technology, the private life is almost nonexistent. Nearly all actions today are viewed and documented, similar to that of 1984. The people of Oceania and the modern world live in fear. Fear that the government will control their lives and individuality will be sacrificed in the pursuit of power and order. War and hate run rampant in today’s society, much as it did in 1984. It is true that modern society does not completely resemble Oceania and the world portrayed in 1984, but the ideals and thoughts of the novel are present. Perhaps some of Orwell’s predictions were a little extreme, but his predictions cannot be pushed aside. Maybe the book should have been named “2000,” or “2013,” the point is, what will prevent his predictions from becoming total reality at a later date in time.
1. Leif, Ruth A. Homage to Oceania: The Prophetic Vision of George Orwell. Columbus: Ohio State University Press, 1969.
2. Orwell, George. 1984. New York: Harcourt, Brace, and World Publications, 1948.
3. Small, Christopher. The Road to Miniluv: George Orwell, the State, and God. London: Gollancz Press, 1974.
4. Williams, Raymond. George Orwell. New York: Viking, 1971.