• Jenna Miller

1984 by George Orwell


1984 is a dystopian novel written in 1949. I have been told repeatedly that it is an apt book to read at this point in history, and after finishing it, I agree. This novel centers around Winston Smith, a member of the Party whose job at the Ministry of Truth is to rewrite history in order to ensure that the Party is always infallible. He gradually begins to realize that he is discontented with life and starts to take some risks. Thinking for oneself is not only illegal, but unprecedented and nonexistent. Big Brother is always watching, and when one is caught, the Ministry of Love will unquestionably torture you.


1984 is how Orwell envisioned a completely Socialist world. Big Brother is always watching. Their slogan: "War is peace, freedom is slavery, ignorance is strength." The world is divided into three Socialist entities: Oceania(1984's centralized here), Eurasia, and Eastasia. They are in a constant, unconquerable war with each other.


Life in Oceania is bleak:

  • Doublethink: 2+2=5. Reality is routinely denied metaphysically, but employed when making a weapon where physical facts are needed. Two contradictory facts can be held and accepted simultaneously.

  • Crimestop: protective stupidity. The ability to stop oneself from understanding analogies, logical fallacies, or anything heretical to the Party.

  • Blackwhite: the ability to not just think, but know black is white in the face of actual facts.

  • Private property has long since been abolished and collectivized.

  • Complete uniformity of all subjects exists; differing opinions are intolerable.

  • Economic inequality is permanent.

  • Violence and executions are celebrated, especially the violent death of enemy women and children.

  • Goods are produced but not distributed, keeping the people in a purposeful state of deprivation.

  • The scientific method no longer exists, for it opposes INGSOC's (English Socialism) fundamental principles.

  • The younger generation cannot understand why rewriting and abolishing history is an issue.

  • Children are aggressive, dangerous, and have no love for their parents.

  • Every one is distrustful of and reports on one another

  • Sexual attraction and love are undesirable. There should be no attachment other than love for Big Brother.

  • Those who disagree are vanquished, known as 'unpersons', completely erased from life and forgotten.


I am generally a fast reader, and this took me weeks to finish. The torture scenes were so realistic and sadistic. I felt despair for the people's ignorance and the beauty of knowledge they do not even know to miss. I had to continually put it down when the hopelessness became too much for me. I have so much underlined and circled in my copy of the book. If you have been paying attention to the news, you could find similarities in 2020, to what Orwell wrote and imagined 71 years ago.


I would be remiss to finish this review without pointing out the ultimate reason for this hopelessness: God's presence is nonexistent in this book. Reflecting on everything I read, this was utmost in my mind. God is never not at work in our lives, even if you do not profess His existence. He loves us and wants us to turn to Him. While I pray to never experience socialism as my country's central form of government, I know it is imperative to remember that the Gospel spreads like wildfire in countries where religion is banned (specifically relating to 1984).

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