It has been a long time since I walked by a country road. When I was in my teens, I had my first glimpse of a village. Now, the growing crime has made even the smallest pleasure like walking alone, dreadful. All this makes me remember an incident from Orwell’s 1984. The protagonist walks by a country road to meet the heroine. They reach a lonely meadow, one after the other watching their back and with the fear of being caught, in their hearts. The flowers are blooming, everything is perfect. Then what is the matter with the atmosphere? Why are they afraid? The answer was simple, and final. It is the regime of “big brother”. That was enough to explain everything. The totalitarian society had monitored its people to such a devastating extent, that they had telescreens watching them. No privacy in their own houses, no room for casual conversations, everybody was a “comrade” yet they were ready to betray people who dared to even think differently as opposed to the rules of the government of big brother, there were things like “thought crime” which never existed before. Marriage was a contract to only produce future slaves for the regime.
The novel was ironical and Orwell did a good job. But the meadow episode seemed so relevant, that I am ready to call him a political seer who foresaw the society as it would look in the then future which was the year 1984. The meadow was dangerous first due to the hidden microphones and next, the man was with a woman out of rules, in a lonely meadow and the woman had a red band around her waist which symbolized virginity, she was supposed to be against the pursuit of carnal pleasure. Then, why were they there? The answer was simple; they were being controlled by a system which was brutal beyond measure. The basic biological needs were being controlled and allowed in the minimum. Every step was watched, and every word was listened to by the thought police. This forced them to do desperate things. They forgot the flavour of coffee, sugar and even chocolate. All of these commodities they got were made from artificial flavors. Just like their lives, which were artificial and uncertain. Things changed so rapidly, that they were forced to be forgotten as soon as they changed. The human mind was being played with. The country was constantly at war. Internally as well as externally.
Things were only normal among the poor class called the proles. As the protagonist says, “if there is any hope it is in the proles.” It meant that the common man held more cards in his hands than he thought himself capable of holding only, he was unaware. At least he was being made to live in deception that he lived in a safe society with a Big Brother watching him with kindness in his heart. Only the protagonist knew, deep in his heart that those eyes staring from the huge posters were not kind. They had something else which was unsettling to look at.
Maybe we should not stop on the account that eyes are watching us. No matter what, we have our own eyes to be kept from dropping down with shame. Shame which comes from self-doubt and acceptance of deception. These proles were the majority but were helpless due to utter destitution. They were free from the rules of the government, they had numerous children, no uniform, no restricted places, and were free from constant monitoring. But then they refused to rise into power. The citizens, who work for the government if dared to oppose, or exhibit originality even in thoughts, were vaporized meaning wiped out from existence in the room 101 of the ironically named “ministry of peace”. They did not die but were brain washed to believe that Big brother loved the people and strove for their benefit. Big brother was a traitor who controlled the world from his eyes travelling the town through immense posters, telescreens, microphones and the “thought police”.
The protagonist, Winston smith and his lady love, Julia are brainwashed, tortured and made to love big brother. And in the end, Winston loses his confidence, his love and his existence to the totalitarian regime. He learns to love big brother but forgets who he is. It was not a happy story, but then, it related well to the present society.
Though it is democratic, some issues of the present society never seem to change, especially the position of the woman. Pathetic and sad is the situation where we see women being controlled and killed. Politics has closed the doors of free expression. The police have started to become more like the “thought police” who arrest people for thinking and expressing differently. Is the country in for a disaster? What would happen if totalitarianism came to our country? There would be no hope for the future. It may not be present now but in some parts of the society, this is what is happening. There are many big brothers watching us, silently, lustfully, guiltily, greedily, angrily and hungrily. The hunger for power has brought various crimes. Women are treated violently; the poor are deprived of their basic rights. The rich and the influential are privileged and protected by the loopholes in the system. In short, I see Orwell’s 1984 in the twenty-first century. It takes a political genius to write something so true. He must have seen the atrocities around him. Let us not let these big brothers continue to control us. There are many such factors which hide in our lives which are our big brothers to be conquered.
This masterpiece written by a political genius needs to be read and understood in the right sense. The contrariness of these words of the government of 1984 brings out the deception and the failure of humanity beautifully. The slogans which stare at the people constantly reminding them of their shame and their helpless acceptance of injustice which they are letting happen to them,
“WAR IS PEACE
IGNORANCE IS STRENGTH
FREEDOM IS SLAVERY.”
So do we also believe this? Food for thought!