George Orwell is one of the leading writers of the
20th century English literature. Orwell’s life and experiences inspired his
books. He served in the police department in India for a short time and the
cruel practices he witnessed during his civil service caused a deep anger
towards imperialism. He supported democratic socialism and stood up against
totalitarianism. Orwell is known all around the world with his novel Nineteen
Eighty-Four, which depicts a dystopia. Orwell wrote the novel imagining a
terrible totalitarian state and considering the two examples of those years:
Stalin’s Soviet Union and Hitler’s SS State.

In nineteen eighty-four, the world is divided
into three states: Oceania, Eurasia and Eastasia. These states are constantly
in war with each other, however there is no ideological differences between
them. In fact, they all have the same world view and system. George Orwell
focuses on Oceania in the book. The regime of Oceania is English Socialism
called Ingsoc. Oceania has a new language named Newspeak which is developed
intentionally to reduce the thinking capacity of the society. Oceania has three
social classes: Inner party, outer party and proletariat. Inner party is the ruling
class, they control Oceania. The people which belong to outer party that we can
think as middle-class, generally work at ministries but they are not aware of
the realities. Lastly, proletariat is the lowest class of Oceania that we can
think as working class. The majority of Oceania’s society is indifferent to
oppressive power and they are under a strict control of the state. “Big
Brother” watches them through telescreens. They live without reaction
under the dictatorship of Big Brother. Names of the ministries of Oceania are
called: Ministry of Peace, Ministry of Plenty, Ministry of Love and Ministry of
Truth. Winston Smith, the protagonist of the book, works at Ministry of Truth.
State officials send a new information and Winston changes the information in
the old newspapers with this new one. In this way, the old information is deleted
the newspaper becomes like it has always been in this way. For example, if party
says something that will happen and if it does not happen when the time comes,
Winston changes the old information in the old issue of the newspaper to make
it compatible with the discourses of the party at that time. Because people
should believe in the party sincerely. If the party says that two contradictory
things are the same, then they are the same. The party has three slogans: War
Is Peace, Freedom Is Slavery and Ignorance Is Strength. Also, Oceania has
Thoughtpolices that arrest people who commit thought crimes. The party does not
want people to do anything. They do not people to think individually,
differently, question anything or love anything. They do not want see anyone
against Big Brother and the party. Emmanuel Goldstein, old high level member of
the party, is against the state, the ruler of the state Big Brother and the
party. It is unclear whether Big Brother and Emmanuel are real people or not.
Although nobody really has seen them before, there are two minute hate videos
which show Emmanuel Goldstein and there are pictures of Big Brother literally

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The people, particularly proletariats, live in
poverty because the state give them small rations. Even so, they are not
controlled by the state as strictly as outer party. For example, proletariats
do not have telescreens, which can be used both as television and voice/image
receptor at the same time, in their houses. Telescreens are invented by the party
of Oceania for the purpose of keeping a close watch on the people and they are
placed in houses and public areas so as to disable any possible opposition to
the party. Although proletariats constitute the majority of the society, we can
say that inner party does not see them as a threat for their regime by looking
at the fact that they do not give telescreens to the proletariats that give
them the infinite power. Because there is a constant war, cities are destroyed.
However, some parts of the Oceania are rebuilt. Outer party members live in
these places which are relatively better than the places that proletariats
live. Outer party members also have good quality products and better foods than
proletariats. Nevertheless, inner party members lead a life of luxury. They
have super high-quality products and foods.

This is the summary of the dystopia where
Winston Smith has to live in. He secretly opposes Big Brother, the Oceania
standards and the party. Because proletariats are not strictly controlled by
the party and they are more than the people in other classes, Winston thinks
that they can overthrow the party by starting a revolution. Julia, who commits
thoughtcrimes like Winston, gives a note to Winston that says “I love
you.” In this way, they come together. One day, they find a room in a
neighbourhood of proletariat and they think it is without a telescreen. In that
room, they secretly start to meet and do things that are thought to be
thoughtcrimes by the party such as to think differently and to talk against the
party. Winston thinks O’Brien who is belong to inner party is like them and
decides to contact him. After they meet, O’Brien delivers the book “The Theory and Practice of Oligarchical
Collectivism” by Emmanuel Goldstein to Winston. He finds the same
world view and opinions in that book. But still, they get caught by the
Thoughtpolice in the end. The room about which they thought that is free from
telescreens has actually a hidden telescreen. Similarly, O’Brien is not also a
man from the Brotherhood which is said to be a secret organization against the
party and Big Brother. After these things take place, we understand that
everything was a lie to deceive Winston. They take Winston to the Ministry of
Love and they get him brainwashed through a lot of tortures. Eventually, Winston
transforms into a person what the party wants.

There is an oligarchic system in Oceania and it
has certain class differences. While elites (inner party members) lead a life
of luxury, middle (outer party members) and lower (proletariats) class members live
in poorer positions. Besides, upper class which is called inner party in the
book controls other classes. If we take into account all of these, we can say
that the book has a critical view for all the authoritarian regimes. Oceania
sees itself as a Socialist (Ingsoc) state, it has nothing to do with socialism.
While socialism is a system that government and means of production are in the
control of the society, this is not how it works in Oceania. People can think
that Nineteen Eighty-Four is a book that is written for the purpose of
protesting against communism during the Cold War period at first. However, when
they go deeper and think critically, they will understand that there is not a
socialist regime as it is claimed in Oceania. There is an authoritarian and
oligarchic regime that controls the other classes of the society in Oceania.
This situation helps Oceania to make the society believe what the party wants
them to believe, to give the society limited supplies and to use inhuman
methods like brainwashing or torture. The regime that Oceania also opposes the
liberal opinions such as individuality, human rights, freedom and the least
intervention of the government to the society. Besides, Winston shares some
similar ideas with Karl Marx. They both think that the people in the working
class can start a revolution against upper class if they want and it can enable
them to have a better regime.

To conclude, we can say that Orwell establishes
this dystopia upon conceptual principles which are: An authoritarian regime
that controls people constantly and turns equality, freedom and peace into a
dream. This oppressive order is established after bourgeoisie is overturned.
After bourgeoisie is overturned, the people that constitute the middle-class
such as bureaucrats, scientists, public relations specialists and journalists
take power. People will always betray each other, so it is impossible to resist
this order. Proletariats and colonial societies can never become conscious and
resist exploitation and oppression.


These foresights that we encounter in Orwell’s
dystopian novel are related to the processes which has a deep influence for our
life. We need to take a closer look at Orwell’s dystopia.