George Orwell and Winston Smith in Nineteen Eighty-Four
"On each landing, opposite the lift shaft, the poster with the enormous face gazed from the wall. It was one of those pictures which are so contrived that the eyes follow you about when you move. BIG BROTHER IS WATCHING YOU, the caption beneath it ran." (Orwell 4 "Nineteen").
George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four presents a negative utopian picture, a society ruled by rigid totalitarianism. The government which Orwell creates in his novel is ruled by an entity known as Big Brother and consists of three branches. The Ministry of Truth, overseeing the distribution of propaganda and other printed materials, the Ministry of War, the millitary unit, and the Ministry of Love, the law enforcement division, make up the government. The main character, Winston Smith, does not completely accept the ideology that is fed to him by the government, through the concept of Big Brother. When one examines George Orwell's life, it can be clearly seen that he personifies his political perceptions, social and aesthetic characteristics, and self-examination of his own writing, through Winston Smith, in Nineteen Eighty-Four.
Orwell's political perceptions, especially his skepticism of mass media, are given life through Winston Smith. Spending time working for the British Broadcasting Company (BBC), Orwell experienced many distorted truths and propaganda (Woodcock 9). This led to an intense distrust of those in power and their influence on the information distributed to and recieved by the general public. Orwell explains how history is altered by whomever is in power. In Orwell's essay "Revising History" he examines the credibility of history and finds that it is based on the person or group in control. Orwell hated totalitarianism, primarily because of its attacks on unbiased truth and so saw it as the enemy. If a person or organization in power finds a fact damaging or out of sync with his cause, he can simply change it by the manner in which it is reported. Orwell states, "A certain degree of truthfulness was possible so long as it was admitted that a fact may be true even if you don't like it." ("Revising" 1). He is supporting his ideas with an obvious example familiar to most. World War II, Orwell points out, had two very distinct slants depending on whether you subscribe to the Nazi account or that of their enemies. Another telling example he spoke of was the broadcasted outcome of the Spanish Civil War being decided by the winning power's preferences. Simply put, Orwell boldly claims that "History is written by the winners," (Orwell, "Revising" 1). So Orwell's own distrust is obvious in his creation of the Ministry of Truth. It is here where his main character, Winston, is employed forming propaganda and changing past facts to coincide with whatever lies Big Brother is feeding the general public. According to Woodcock, Orwell definitely based the Ministry...