In 1984 an omnipotent, omnipresent government controls every aspect of its citizens’ lives, at least the citizens with the capability to resist. The people are monitored, manipulated and brainwashed. In every home is installed a telescreen that bleats out propaganda and records the private lives of the residents.

In truth, there is no privacy. The individual life is subservient to the welfare of the public community. Nobody is ever left alone, but everyone is lonely because to trust and confide in another is to die. However, the need for companionship and expression is an innate human need that can never be fully suppressed. Only the truly ignorant, the truly mindless, have the ability to survive in 1984.

It seems as if the goal of the government is to reduce all of humanity to animals by eliminating language, by suppressing expression, by breaking community. It is ironic that the proles (the poor) are regarded as animals for it is the members of the party who most embody the basest side of humanity. Survival instinct and absence of thought are valued at the expense of complex emotion and true connection.

Through the eyes of Winston Smith the reader is exposed to this dismal world. Winston yearns for these missing things. He is not a mindless animal. He desires companionship with another human being. He desires to experience complex emotion. Two other characters, a dark haired girl and O’Brien dominate Winston’s thoughts. Towards them he feels love, hate, and fear all intertwined. Perhaps these are aspects of the same emotion: passion. However, the government discourages the development, understanding and fulfillment of such an emotion. Passion is a threat.

Still, Winston Smith cannot help but seek a connection, to communicate his inner thoughts to another. So, 1984 begins with the purchase of a journal. It becomes clear that the act of writing, even without a reader, holds significant power. By inscribing a record floating thoughts are steadied. Through writing Winston comes to realize ideas that even he didn’t know were hidden away inside his mind.

The mind, it is shown, is not a secure place at all. In fact, it is easily manipulated especially without any external reinforcement. Conditioned to accept the party mindset, it cannot correctly interpret outside messages. Common sense in 1984 is not common; it’s not even uncommon; it’s nonexistent. The senses cannot be trusted. The memory is mutable.

Because of this, the memory of the past is also cut off. History and the “truth” do not exist, as we know it. It is subject to the whims of the present. Winston’s job, in fact, is to edit written records to reflect the current party line. Any connection with the past is cut off. The future is unimaginable. Without a firm foundation, society cannot progress. The world is stagnant, rotting. It remains in an endless rut, going through the motions, keeping the status quo. But nobody is living. The people are all but dead because change is life.   

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