1984 George Orwell was not only a writer, but also an important political reformer. Orwell was born in India in 1903. He considered his family a "lower-middle class" family. He said this because his family was a part of the middle class, but had little money. His father worked for the British government and was able to be apart of the middle class without money. Orwell lived in Britain and went to boarding school there on scholarships.
He was the poorest student among many wealthy children. Orwell felt like an outsider at the boarding schools he went to. The students were all kept in line by beatings. This was Orwell's first taste of dictatorship, being helpless under the rule of an absolute power. In an essay, Orwell wrote of being beaten for wetting his bed.
Whenever he was in trouble he was quickly pointed out as a "charity" student. He suffered many years of isolation and loneliness. Writing and having imaginary conversations with himself consoled Orwell. Orwell was unable to continue schooling because of grades. He joined the Indian Imperial Police. He was assigned to keep peace in British dependencies.
Although his father was very proud, he was hated by many. In turn, he hated himself and the job he was called to do for his country. In Orwell's novel, 1984, you see his feelings of guilt and isolation come out through main character, who feels guilty for working under the ruling party. Orwell resigned from the police and dedicated his life to writing. He took out a period of his life to live amongst poverty and try to understand classes. Orwell saw their hardships, but strongly believed that class divisions were necessary.
Orwell became Democratic Socialist after living amongst the poor. He saw a strong need for the public to do something about the harsh environment of poverty. He expressed this need, through his writing. He believed in a government that would take over such things as medical care and railroad for the good of the people. At the same time, he believed the people should run it. One of his main goals of writing was to express his disagreement with totalitarianism.
Orwell said "Every line of serious work that I have written since 1936 has been written directly or indirectly, against totalitarianism and for a democratic socialism". Orwell carried out his purpose through the novel, 1984. He set up an extreme scenario of totalitarianism and brought out it's true evil. Much of 1984's inspiration is a result of the events happening around the time of its publication. One major and obvious event was World War II, more specifically, Nazism and the reign of Hitler as a dictator. The main character in 1984, Winston Smith, was named after Winston Churchill, a political leader during World War II.
Another important historical aspect was Stalinism, which was happening in Russia. Stalin purged or killed political enemies for the "good" of the state. George Orwell fought against these totalitarian ists by his writing. This is how he became a political reformer. In the late 1940's, Russia was Germany's ally, but later became an enemy. ended up fighting against each other at Stalingrad. In 1984, the major powers of the world were always at war, but the enemy keeps changing.
After World War II, one would think that totalitarianism would never be heard of again. In the story 1984, there is a totalitarian government. There are a lot of things written that could not have happened before the twentieth century. "Telescreens" are the best example. They were comparable to modern televisions, but televisions were not invented until the twentieth century. These "telescreens" in the novel were in every public and private place that transmitted party propaganda and entertainment.
And, more advanced then a television, the telescreens can read thoughts. In the novel it detects "thought crimes" against the ruling party. It is thought crime that the main character, Winston is charged with and arrested by the "Thought Police" for. After the arrest, Winston is faced with terrible cruelty. He is, first of all beaten, and worst of all he is betrayed by O'Brian, his friend. Winston sees O'Brian enter the cell and thinks he is captured too but O'Brian was the captor.
He tells Winston "you knew this, don't deceive yourself you have always known it". Winston reacts by realizing it is true even after putting his trust in O'Brian. Trustworthy people, however, can be deceiving. People trust many companies and services with their personal information everyday. People lose their privacy in a number of ways they don't even realize. Every time a person uses the Internet, a person is keeping track of web sites to take advantage of business opportunity.
People can also be easily impersonated. Eavesdroppers can intercept cellular phone calls. And, employers can find out what drugs employees have purchased through medical insurance. According to Time magazine, August 25, 1997, "We " re all being watched by computers". This isn't necessarily true for everyone, only for those who give away personal information are in danger of losing their privacy.
Uneducated people can easily be misled and watched on the Internet. In 1984, the "proles", or the uneducated common people are controlled because they don't know any better. The "Big Brother" misleads them and is able to watch their thoughts. Orwell tries to warn his readers of this type of government.
1984 is not a prediction of the future, but a warning to avoid totalitarian tendencies.