This essay explains the statement of “This is among the most terrifying books I’ve read” entailing George Orwell’s 1984.
George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four gives a negative picture, a society ruled by total totalitarianism. Totalitarianism is a system where the state has complete power over the everyday life of the citizens, politically, religiously, culturally, economically and socially. Since totalitarianism still occurs nowadays in places all over the world and therefore is very realistic, the book makes you feel very unpleasant and actually scared.
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“Because main aspects in the novel, such as totalitarianism and propaganda, are terrifying things that are very realistic and (can) also happen in real life the same way as explained in the novel, George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four is “the most terrifying book I’ve read”.”
Firstly, something that people are always afraid of in everyday life and which is one of the main aspects of the novel is the loss of freedom.
In 1984, Winston and all the other so-called “proles”, who are the “simple people” and therefore the lowest-ranked of everyone, but also by far the majority of the people, are under total control of “Big Brother”. The Party consists of Inner Party members, who are the ruling elite, and regular Party members, who are citizens of Oceania. “Big Brother” is the party leader and everywhere in the city there are huge posters hanging with the caption:
“Big Brother is Watching You.”
The Party’s three slogans are: “War is Peace,” “Freedom is Slavery,” and “Ignorance is Strength.”
The statement: “Big Brother is Watching You” might give you a rather scary, unpleasant feeling, because it says that Big Brother is watching you all the time, by everything you do and think. And this actually also happens: there are helicopters flying everywhere, “snooping into people’s windows”. There is the so-called “Thought Police” that can arrest you on anything that you think of that may be “illegal” (which can’t be, since there are now laws) or suspicious according to the party. You may even be killed for this, by for example being hanged. “Thoughtcrime does not entail death: thoughtcrime is death.” (p. 30)
Then there are also the “telescreens” that record everything that comes by on video and audio. This makes you lose your privacy and therefore your freedom.
These ways of constantly being watched by the government and thereby losing your freedom is something that actually happens in people’s all-day lives as well. For example, Someone might surf the internet by using Google, a search program on the internet. Everything that a person might type in to search for and click on is saved into a big database of Google and then it can be used and read by anyone at Google to look for the person’s identity and anything else that you may think off.
These telescreens, the helicopters, the posters are all so scary because they can or already do occur in our everyday life and they steal the freedom of humans.
Secondly, a very terrifying aspect of 1984, is the violence in the novel.
The government’s hard method of control is one thing that shows the use of violence in the novel. For example, the government shows very harsh executions in front of all the people on big screens or in real life.
This usually happens during the “Two Minutes Hate”. In these two minutes, the Party members from Oceania must watch a film showing The Party’s enemies, which is usually Emmanuel Goldstein, and then they must show their hate for them. “The program of the Two Minutes Hate varied from day to day, but there was none in which Goldstein was not the principal figure. He was the primal traitor, the earliest defiler of the Party’s purity. All subsequent crimes against the Party, all treacheries, acts of sabotage, heresies, deviations, sprang directly out of his teaching” (p. 14) The party members have to watch these films of the Party, so their anger to the opponents of the Party grows bigger and bigger and their adoration for the Party does so as well.
Another moment that pictures the anger and feeling of violence of the people in Oceania is when Winston has the desire to kill Julia. This shows the hate he has against the Party and his followers, which actually makes him mad and aggressive.
Mainly the fact that there could be a so-called “Two Minutes Hate” to make people lose their frustrations and become brainwashed by seeing very negative and terrifying films of enemies of the State in our real life, it makes me feel really terrified and scared because there is so less you can do against them and it’s so scary because people won’t be able to resist it.
Thirdly, one of the most terrifying aspects of the novel is the use of children in the novel.
In 1984, the Party has set up several groups, such as “the Spies”, which they call a “scouting club” and the “anti-sex league’.
“The Spies” are considered by “the proles” as a scouting club that provides a lot of fun to the children and here they can learn things and make new friends. This is what people might expect from a “scouting club”. In 1984, this is very different. The children, who belong to any of these groups, will actually be brainwashed and educated by this group e.g. “the Spies”. Children who are member of “the Spies” learn to love the Party and to hate anyone who is disliked by the Party or opposites of the Party. The children are also forced to watch hangings of “criminals” to make their hate for them grow bigger. They also learn to denounce every person from whom they think they’re a “thought criminal”.
“Nearly all children nowadays were horrible. What was worst of all was that by means of such organizations as the Spies they were systematically turned into ungovernable little savages, and yet this produced in them no tendency whatever to rebel against the discipline of the Party. On the contrary, they adored the Party and everything connected with it… All their ferocity was turned outwards, against the enemies of the State, against foreigners, traitors, saboteurs, thought-criminals. It was almost normal for people over thirty to be frightened of their own children.” (p. 26)
I think these actual “education groups” (like “the Spies”) are very scary, because they educate the children and learn them how to behave, who to love and who to hate.
These groups can also be compared to our daily life, because to child soldiers is actually done the same: They are brainwashed by the group that educates them and they learn to hate everyone that opposites their state and do everything to protect them.
The fact that children are actually brainwashed and educated by these groups is very terrifying to read since it happens in the worst places on Earth still nowadays as well, mostly in Undeveloped Countries.
For me, George Orwell’s 1984, is quite surely the most terrifying book I’m reading, because it shows how the world I am living in right now could have been at this moment or in the future. Because the problems in the novel are so realistic and actually (could) happen in our daily lives, they make me feel quite scared and terrified. Particular things in the novel such as “telescreens” and the groups that brainwash and educate children unnaturally are things that are actually already happening nowadays, but in different (not less severe) forms, such as on the internet (Google), the camera’s in cities and army groups that train children to child soldiers.
I think these problems are horrible and very scary because they threaten people’s lives and human rights.
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