George Orwell author of 1984 recently made it on Amazon’s list of “100 books to read before you die” for his widely read novel with thought provoking subjects like: the dangers of totalitarianism, physical control, psychological manipulation, manipulation of information and history, and technology. Through the themes in 1984, George Orwell demonstrates that a dystopian society created by totalitarian rule can infiltrate the minds of its citizens through various mediums.
The famous novel falls into the same dystopian genre as other great works such as Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury, Brave New World by Aldus Huxley , and Orwell’s very own allegorical Animal Farm. However, 1984 is hailed by many for its continuity as a classic work describing a totalitarian government. It is the story of Winston Smith who is a member of the Oceanian government and his struggle to live life under the strict control of the Party. Winston finds himself at a rut early in the novel when he begins to feel a need to rebel against the Party.
Many of the themes Orwell explores are characteristic of a dystopian society and have a foundation in philosophy. The government in Oceania embodies the “social contract” for the people to covenant together and turn over all power to a sovereign developed by philosopher Thomas Hobbes’s (Miskelly and Noce). For Hobbes the nature of humans was to live in disorder and war or forfeit power. The proles are an example of citizens who have forfeited their rights and live their lives without fear of the government. These lower class citizens can be described as overworked peons that conform to all the rules issued by the Party and pose no threat of resistance like Winston does. In Chapter 7 Winston writes: “If there is hope, it must lie in the proles, because only there in those swarming disregarded masses, 85 per cent of the population of Oceania, could the force to destroy the Party ever be generated” (Orwell 40).
As a reader one may feel the anxiousness present in this situation. It is evident by the way the proles are described in the novel that there will never be an uprising. The situation in Oceania is very grim and the only group capable of bringing salvation to the country is a mindless demographic. This particular aspect of the novel raises a question, Is Orwell using the proles to allude to the bystander effect? Throughout history there have been instances where the power to change an injustice lies in the hands of those who are not specifically involved. In this instance, the proles can be substituted for any group in history whose inaction brought about suffering to the world.
The Party exercises absolute power over its subjects. Orwell makes the Party an unstoppable force that effectively limits the possibility of resistance to a bare minimum. Oceania is a country run by propaganda; which is one of the methods used to control the people. The leading figure is Big Brother and he is in constantly in the minds of...