Boekverslag : George Orwell - Nineteen Eighty-four / 1984
De taal ervan is Engels en het aantal woorden bedraagt 1914 woorden.


Wolters-Noordhoff B.V

First publication


Publication of used edition





3 In "Nineteen Eighty-Four" Orwell draws a picture of a totalitarian future. Although the action deals in the future, there are a couple of elements and symbols, taken from the present and past. So for example Emanuel Goldstein, the main enemy of Oceania, is, as one can see in the name, a Jew. Orwell draws a link to other totalitarian systems of our century, like the Nazis and the Communists, who had anti-Semitic ideas, and who used Jews as so-called scapegoats, who were responsible for all bad and evil things in the country. This fact also shows that totalitarian systems want to arbitrate their perfection. Emanuel Goldstein also somehow stands for Trotsky, a leader of the Revolution that was later declared as an enemy. Another symbol that can be found in Nineteen Eighty-Four is the fact that Orwell divided the fictional superstates in the book according to the division that can be found in the Cold War. So Oceania stands for the United States of America , Eurasia for Russia and Eastasia for China. Also the fact that the two socialistic countries Eastasia and Eurasia ( in our case Russia and China ) are at war with each other, corresponds with our history (Usuri river). Also other, non-historical symbols can be found. One of these symbols is the paperweight that Winston buys in the old junk-shop. It stands for the fragile little world that Winston and Julia have made for each other. They are the coral inside it. As Orwell wrote: "It is a little chunk of history, that they have forgotten to alter". The "Golden Country" is another symbol. It stands for the old European pastoral landscape. The place where Winston and Julia meet for the first time to make love to each other, is exactly like the "Golden Country" of Winston's dream.


The theme might be Orwell's "Warning" against the Totalitarian State. At the time when he wrote the book, this was a very actual topic. Hitler's run for total world domination just ended and Stalin's regime in Russia was popping up in the news. In for instance, these two regimes, there is one person or one group of persons who are trying to take over the World or a country. They try to do that by not only defeating the human body but also the human mind and soul. Big Brother and The Party could be compared with Stalin and his regime. The book consists out of 3 parts:

1: an introduction to the world and to the living in Oceania.

2: Winston's first acts of rebbelism against the regime. The start of an affair between Winston and Julia. the book of Goldstein.

3: Winstons arrest and torture by O'Brien. Winstons rehabilitation to a good Party-member. He realises in the end that "He loves Big Brother"

A fragment wich is representative of the book: "He thought of the telescreen with its never-sleeping ear. They could spy upon you night and day, but if you kept your head you could still outwit them. With all their cleverness they had never mastered the secret of finding out what another human being was thinking. Perhaps that was less true when you were actually inside the Ministry of Love, but it was possible to guess: tortures, drugs, delicate instruments that registered your nervous reactions, gradual wearing-down by sleeplessness and solitude and persistent questioning. Facts at any rate could not be tracked down by enquiry, they could be squeezed out of you by torture." This passage teaches us how someone lives without privacy, but with rebbelious feelings knowing the consequences of getting caught by the Thoughtpolice.

The action takes place in London in nineteen eighty-four. Europe is then called Oceania and is in war with Eurasia and Eastasia. The background is a poor London, a city of Oceania. Oceania is ruled by Big Brother, and beneath him are the Inner Party, the Outer Party and the proles. There is INGSOC (English Socialism). Only the Inner Party is very rich. A big part of the inhabitants lives in outskirts of London. They're called the proles, the only people who aren't watched by telescreens. They're 85% of the whole population of London. Big Brother is very powerful and he watches everybody by telescreens all the time. It's a real hell for the people who live in London. They may not think, because Big Brother is always right. If he tells you 2 and 2 make 5, then 2 and 2 make 5. He can change it whenever he likes to, and whatever he says, he is right. The past is manipulated and the people are brainwashed to love BB and hate Emmanuel Goldstein. Emmanuel is shown at the two minutes hate. There's even "thought crime". You're not allowed to think different, if you do you will get arrested by the thought police. Then you'll be vaporised. You can't speak to anybody, because you can't trust anyone. A lot of people spy for Big Brother and the Inner Party. Big Brother tries to make communication impossible with a new language: newspeak. It's a language that has as few words as possible so that people can't really communicate. To have sex is also forbidden by Big Brother. The story is science fiction and hasn't a historical background. The things happen in the future, because 1984 is 35 years after the book is written.

The main characters are

Winston Smith: Round Character

Orwell named his hero after Winston Churchill, England's great leader during World War II. He added a common last name: Smith. He is 39 years old. Works practically his whole life at the Ministry of Truth. There he rewrites the history. He gets into a love affair with Julia, wich is against the rules of The Party. His first rebellion act is writing in his diary. He hasn't got a past and in some ways he hasn't got a future to. He has an inconstant mind and he endures a character development. (might be a personalisation of Orwell) To my mind Winston is a sort of hero, because he is aware of the danger that he has encountered. So for example he knew it from the very beginning of that his diary would be found. And as one can see the things that are written in this book (that freedom is to say that two and two makes four) are later used against him. He also knew that the Thought Police would disclose his illegal love affair that was an act of revolution. But nevertheless he is some kind of naive. He opened his mind to O'Brien before he was sure that he is also against the Party.

Julia: Round Character

Julia is a women around 25, and she works in a special department of the Minitrue, producing cheap Pornography for the proles. She had already a couple of illegal love affairs. Unlike Winston, she basically a simple woman, something of a lightweight who loves her man and uses sex for fun as well as for rebellion. She is perfectly willing to accept the overnight changes in Oceania's history and doesn't trouble her pretty head about it. If Big Brother says black is white, fine. If he says two and two make five, no problem. She may not buy the Party line, but it doesn't trouble her. She falls asleep over Winston's reading of the treasured book by Goldstein. Orwell draws Winston's love object lovingly. Julia is all woman, sharp and funny as she is attractive, but she may also be a reflection of the author's somewhat limited view of the opposite sex. She has rebellious thoughts against the regime.

O'Brien: Round Character

Appears to be a member of an organisation against Big Brother. Turns out to be a member of the Thoughtpolice who takes care of Winston's "rehabilitation".

Big Brother: Flat Character

His existence is uncertain. He is the big mind after the party and the society in Oceania. His face is hanging everywhere so he will see everyone, everywhere. Ofcourse the sentence "Big Brother is Watching You", wich is also present everywhere, refers to him.

The title 1984 is 1948 in reverse. Orwell wrote the book in '48 so he just had to change the numbers and 1984 was the title. It's just written after World War II, where Orwell thinks lays a beginning of a new war, a cold war. It's the beginning of a run to a Totalitarian State. On the first page of the book there's also a referring to the title, it says that on the telescreen a man's face of about forty-five was shown and there's told that Winston is thirty-nine wich makes 84 together.


1984 is a novel.

The story is in chronological order, wich means there are no so called "flashbacks" or "flashforwards". Only in his mind we can speak of them, when he for instance dreams about his mother or refers to his future with Julia.

Point of view: The narrative perspective is a "third-person" one. The narrator doesn't appear in the story, so we can conclude that the writer is also the narrator. He's only an observer. The narrator has omniscient knowledge. He has full knowledge of actions, thoughts and emotions. The narrator (Orwell) gives a personal and coloured version of the events. He warns the reader for the things described in the book.

I think the book contain long descriptions which are important and should not be omitted, especially in the first part where he describes the situation in the world. "…more books, more houses, more cooking-pots, more ships, more helicopters, more books, more of everything except disease, crime and insanity. Year by year and minute by minute, everybody and everthing was whizzing rapidly upwards. As Syme had done earlier." In this passage you can find certain stylistic forms

like more,..more,.. more,.. wich is a anaphora and year by year which is a 'aliteratie'. The dominating factor of the book is the description of setting see passage above.

The author:

George Orwell (Eric Arthur Blair) was born in India, in 1903. His father worked for the Civil Service. He went to the famous school of Eton, and wrote articles for college magazines. He died in 1950, after having written several books. He sold over two million copies of 1984 and his other famous novel, Animal farm. He wrote this book because of his repulsion from fascism and communism. He shows how the dominance of any ideology will result in totalitarianism, which means the enslavement and dehumanisation of man. His book was at the time a warning against fascism and communism.

Other books by Orwell:

Down and Out in Paris and London (1933)

Burmese days (1934)

A Clergyman's Daughter (1935)

Keep the Aspidistra flying (1936)

Coming up for air (1936)

The road to Wigan Pier (1937)

Homage to Catalonia (1938)

Animal farm (1945)

Politics and the English language (1950)

Collected essays, journalism and letters of George Orwell (1968)

I don't know if he belongs to a certain period in literature. I think the writer want to show us what the world would look like, if the writer in this book is to warn the reader and to entertain the writer and to write things off him because he had an obsession with issues of power, justice and equality.
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