Ee first draft


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Extended Essay on Nineteen EIghty-Four

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Ee first draft

  1. 1. How is the novel “Nineteen Eighteen-Four” affected by the context of its production in relation to its themes, ideas and intention?<br />Introduction<br />There are many factors which can encourage one to write a text. For example, personal experience, social context, literary influence or commercial purpose. However, a literary work is mostly the outcome of intense contextual background such as personal experiences, literary background and historical context. The effect of context of production can usually be appreciated in the themes and ideas of the text. Not only themes but also motive behind the work might also be sensed through the analysis of the context. Therefore, it would not be sweeping statement to say that context is to a literary work what foundation is to a building. <br />Nineteen Eighty-Four, written by George Orwell, is one of such books which finds it foundation deep in its context of production. There might have been some personal seconds of George Orwell which he felt deserved to be told, which might have provided the model for this novel. Some historical events of his time might have impressed the ideas presented in Nineteen Eighty-Four. Orwell might have had something to tell to us, the readers. In my essay, I am focusing on such reasons, looking at the marks of the events of his life in the novel. I am trying to identify some of the ways in which Orwell could have found the base of the themes and ideas presented in this novel of his.<br />I personally feel that contribution of context in the making of Nineteen Eighty-Four is one of the most important and discussed topics. Not because it talks about the 1948 or 1984 but because it’s about how we live; our existent in the world. It’s about human condition. It contains truth within it which is independent of the boundary of time.<br />Detailed Body<br />‘Nineteen Eighty Four’ is about a totalitarian empire of Oceania led by Ingsoc, the party that rules in the name of ‘Big Brother.’ World has been divided in the three parts; Oceania being one of them. All the three parts are led by the same sort of government. People’s lives are controlled by the brutal government of Oceania. They are forced to do what government wants. People are made to think what party wants and anyone who goes against it is vanished for ever as if they never existed. It has many other ways of restricting people in terms of their freedom. One of such ways is punishment to those who aren’t loyal to the government. Such people are either vanished completely or thrown to the extreme misery that they bow to the power of Big Brother. Winston’s re-education is a good example. Winston and Julia, after being caught by the thought police, are tortured and re-educated about the party rules. This idea of re-education was an experience Orwell that he mentions in his essay ‘such, such were the joys’.<br />He was sent to a boarding school in Eastbourne at a very young age. It was a called St. Cyprian’s. There he experienced mistreatment and emotional alteration. He was only eight at that time. He has to stay away from his family, giving him a very lonely feeling. Orwell mentions in his essay how hard that time was to him.<br />“Soon after I arrived at St Cyprian's (not immediately, but after a week or two, just when I seemed to be settling into the routine of school life) I began wetting my bed. It is a normal reaction in children who have been removed from their homes to a strange place ………..In those days, however, it was looked on as a disgusting crime which the child committed on purpose and for which the proper cure was a beating...’’<br />This feeling of solitude might have provided Orwell a model for Winston’s inability to remember about his family. Winston seems to have a guilty feeling about his mother and sister. He finds it difficult remember how she looked. He calls St. Cyprian’s a strange place to tell us how hard it was for him to stay there as a child. He is beaten there again and again which might also be responsible for the rebellion nature of Winston. So, the idea of Winston Smith standing up against the totalitarian empire might have had its substance in Orwell’s St. Cyprian’s days. Winston feels pain in a similar way as Orwell did because of the separation from his family. Winston’s mother died loving him when he was very young and selfish. By the time he realized his fault his mother wasn’t with him which contributes more to the agonising memories of his mother. He continuously feels lack of a company and love in his life as did Orwell in St. Cyprian’s. Thus idea of separation and wistfulness for Winston Smith in Nineteen Eighty-Four must have come from Orwell’s St. Cyprians days.<br />Again one of the very important domineering factors in the Nineteen Eighty-Four is rewriting the history. Winston finds it very oppressive and unjust. Syme, one of Winston’s friends, suddenly is not noticed one day. Winston doubts his existence thinking that Syme might have been vaporised.‘’One of the notices carried a printed list of the members of the Chess Committee, of whom Syme had been one. It looked almost exactly as it had looked before – nothing had been crossed out – but it was one name shorter. It was enough. Syme had ceased to exist: he had never existed.’’It is scary to imagine a world where you are not sure of your existence. Because what you see today, you may not see it tomorrow moreover you would be told that you never saw it and hence there was no yesterday; If there was it has been changed. It also stresses the idea of identity. If Syme had an identity he would have been noticed and people might have asked the questions regarding his absence. Struggle for individual identity and existence is one of the themes of Nineteen Eighty-Four. The roots of this very theme might be found in Orwell’s Spanish days. He went to Spain in 1937 to support the republican side which also had support from British media. He mentions in one of his essays that he was shot through the throat by a fascist sniper.“There seemed to be a loud bang and a blinding flash of light all around me, and I felt a tremendous shock-no pain, only a violent shock, such as you get from an electrical terminal; with it a sense of utter weakness, a feeling of being stricken and shrivelled up to nothing”Here was an English writer, desperately sick, grappling alone with the demons of his imagination in a bleak Scottish outpost in the desolate aftermath of the Second World War. The Idea for Nineteen Eighty-Four had been in Orwell’s mind since Spanish Civil War. Orwell went to Spain with his wife during this period to support the Republican side. However, his life proved to be under threat from the left as well as from the right for the Spanish Communists were now turning on some of their former dishonestly branding them fascist collaborators and executing many of them. Because most of the British magazines which supported republican side accepted Communists’ version of the events, they refused to publish Orwell’s eye-witnessed accounts, a suppression which definitely influenced his conception of rewriting the history in Nineteen Eighteen-Four Therefore from time to time Orwell stresses the idea of existence in the novel because for him in his real life past was killed; it never existed. This important theme of existence can be seen in book within the motifs like one we see in the conversation of O’Brien and Winston - “I think I exist," he said wearily. "I am conscious of my own identity. I was born and I shall die. I have arms and legs. I occupy a particular point in space. No other solid object can occupy the same point simultaneously. In that sense, does Big Brother exist?"(4) This concept strikes Orwell and Winston a lot of times whether existence of something proves existence of something else. In fact not in Orwell’s life did it happen and nor in Winston’s. Hence the dubious, suppressive and deceptive brought anxiety to him. He doubted even his own existence and so did Winston- ‘I think I exist ’says Winston. It is even scarier to imagine a world where you are not sure of your existence. Because what you see today, you may not see it tomorrow moreover you would be told that you never saw it and hence there was no yesterday if there was it has been changed. For example-‘’One of the notices carried a printed list of the members of the Chess Committee, of whom Syme had been one. It looked almost exactly as it had looked before – nothing had been crossed out – but it was one name shorter. It was enough. Syme had ceased to exist: he had never existed.’’(5) An example of alteration of past in Oceania. Wasn’t it what Orwell worried of when he wanted British media to publish the truth he knew rather than one told by the Communists. How can you make someone forget what one has seen or experienced not before a long time? Orwell felt it quite oppressive and totalitarian – people are not allowed to think what they want, not allowed to cite the history in their own way. In a society where your thoughts are controlled, altered and are erased when needed, Orwell felt highly suppressive and shocking.Also some other evidence s show that Orwell’s experience in the British Government’s Censorship Department gave him insights into bureaucracy and the creation of propaganda which undoubtedly shaped his conception of the Ministry of the Truth in Nineteen Eighty-Four Orwell opposed British involvement in a further European war, which might be an indication for rebellion nature of Winston Smith. But he changed his mind when the Second World War. He contributed the war efforts by joining the Home Guard, writing a portrait of British society and this is where he got this idea of Ministry of Truth in 1984.<br />A look at this motif makes our idea of existence clear 1984 - to prove the Party’s wrong –"Who controls the past controls the future: who controls the ... present controls the past," repeated Winston obediently. “Who controls the present controls the past," said O'Brien, nodding his head with slow approval. "Is it your opinion, Winston, that the past has real existence?" This statement is used several times in the novel. It has a power in it that makes the character feel that they are trapped and their actions are bound with the limitations. Orwell (Winston in 1984) feels it when they are made to believe a truth which isn’t actually true but despite knowing the true truth they can’t do anything. This brings a lot of anxiety to Winston and Hence to its creator, George Orwell. He was desperate put it out in front of the world. He had a rebellion feeling taking birth within his brain and thoughts. Thus he put himself in Winston Smith who lives in same sort of world where history is rewritten. Past is altered and its existence is questioned. In fact, past never existed. As O’Brien asks Winston- ‘’-that the past has real existence?’’. No doubt all the historians would love to claim that except those who exists in Big Brother’s totalitarian society. But Orwell believed that thoughts exist in our brain. One may force you to believe Untruth (Newspeak word) but one can’t look into your brain. They can change the truth on the surface and make you believe it on the surface but they can’t stop your brain thinking of real truth. Hence Orwell always believed in the expression of thoughts as a piece of written art. He had keen interest in writing since his childhood days. Therefore Orwell used his ability as express his own feelings. Thus he came up with the idea of creation of great Nineteen Eighty-Four.<br />Warfare and violence, being one of the most important themes of the Nineteen Eighty-Four, affect the attitude of the characters would adopt. Also it had very important and powerful impact on Eric Blair, as George Orwell was called in his early days, as a child. Therefore Orwell tried to put something of Eric Blair in the minor but informative characters of the novel that is students – Mrs Parsons’ kids. As a schoolboy whose father had gone off to battle, Eric supported the war enthusiastically. He puts exactly this enthusiasm into the kids of Mrs Parsons’ which is clearly depicted by the scene when Winston goes to Mrs Parsons’ flat to fix kitchen sink. He found kids trying to tune with the military music which was issuing from telescreen. This clearly shows how Party had shaped the young generation- always ready for the country with the great enthusiasm for war and military. This was when Mrs Parson’s kid was just nine years old. ‘’Up with your hands! yelled a voice. A handsome tough looking boy of nine had popped up from behind the table and was menacing him(Winston) with a toy automatic pistol, while his small sister, about two years younger, made the same gesture with a fragment of wood.’’(7). They were also dressed in the dresses of spies. Today kids dress like super heroes as they like them and want to be like them. If we take it same way we get to know that kids in Oceania were undoubtedly passionate about war and hence their heroes were spies or thought police. It is really a great shock to imagine Oceania’s condition for a modern reader. Today at the age of seven kids hardly know what a war is. If they did world would have become a terrible place to live in. It was the same for Orwell in his early days. Orwell was afraid of this situation and he thought it might come true in coming future. He was dying while he was writing this book heralding the horrific future. Furthermore kids nag to go and see the hanging. ’’Why can’t we go and see the hanging?’’ roared the boy in his huge voice.<br />‘Want to see the hanging! Want to see the Hanging!’ chanted the little girl, still capering round. (8) Mrs Parsons children are passionate about death and sufferings. They want to see the hanging. Orwell’s imagination of this world was his biggest fear for the future of the world. How would a country look like with their youngest generation being most violent of all. Orwell wrote the book Nineteen Eighty-Four in that sense to warn us about the future. He had had been to a situation, which he didn’t want us to face. <br />Many motifs and symbols used in Nineteen Eighty-Four are similar to what Orwell was living in between. For example- in 2nd paragraph when following lines appear, ’’It (poster) depicted simply an enormous face, more than a meter wide: the face of a man of about forty-five, with a heavy black moustache and ruggedly handsome features.’’(9) From the minute Big Brother’s (the person in poster) moustache makes its appearance many readers thought right away of Stalin’s and hence tended to carry out the habit of one-to-one analogy from Orwell’s earlier work. Since Animal Farm, which most people were content to read as a straightforward allegory about the melancholy fate of Russian revolution. Big Brother’s face certainly is Stalin’s, just as the despised party’s leader Emmanuel Goldstein’s face is Trotsky’s. In a sense, Nineteen Eighty-Four begins where Animal Farm left us because Orwell’s assumption about 1944 Tehran conference was that Russian, American and British were deciding held that meeting to decide who was going to control which parts of the world after the war. Orwell feared that this was a possibility that world would be divided into power blocs to which totalitarian communist governments would rule, although he referred to an element of parody (10) , indicating that not all the features of the book should be taken literally.<br />Also popular motifs like ‘’BIG BROTHER IS WATCHING YOU’’ and Party slogans such as ‘’WAR IS PEACE, FREEDOM IS SLAVERY, IGNORANCE IS STRENGTH’’ might have been motivated buy the popular posters of that era such as ‘’YOUR COUNTRY NEEDS YOU’’. <br />Understandably, the story’s setting in a world resembling post war Britain led some readers think the book’s target must also include Labour Government of 1945-51. Orwell firmly denied it. The point he consciously intended to make was that totalitarianism was so powerful that even a genuinely constructive movement might be taken over by it. However, some readers have felt that, if Nineteen Eighty-Four is an attack on all kinds of totalitarianism, then it is to put them which targets they choose to apply it to. Accordingly, the book has been used as a political weapon in many countries, with members of different parties accusing each other of putting forward ‘Orwellian’ policies like ‘Big Brother’. Arguably, this is the most valuable dimension of Orwell’s satire. By applying us with a way of naming the totalitarian threat, he has kept people aware of danger and so reduced the likelihood of it coming about.<br />Why Orwell would title his book as 1984? Is there any evidence about it? Orwell's title remains a mystery. Some say he was alluding to the centenary of the Fabian Society, founded in 1884. Others suggest a nod to Jack London's novel The Iron Heel (in which a political movement comes to power in 1984), or perhaps to one of his favourite writer GK Chesterton's story, "The Napoleon of Notting Hill", which is set in 1984. Another reason Orwell may have chosen "1984" as the time period when life in Oceania was as he described it was to alert people to the fact that it wasn't too far in the future that such a totalitarian system could be set up. Part of what makes "1984" so much more powerful than most futuristic novels is that everything he says in it is credible. People can relate to it.<br />In his edition of the Collected Works (20 volumes), Peter Davison notes that Orwell's American publisher claimed that the title derived from reversing the date, 1948, though there's no documentary evidence for this. Davison also argues that the date 1984 is linked to the year of Richard Blair's birth, 1944, and notes that in the manuscript of the novel, the narrative occurs, successively, in 1980, 1982 and finally, 1984. There's no mystery about the decision to abandon "The Last Man in Europe’’. Orwell didn't choose the title "1984" until after he'd finished writing the book. While he was working on it he had "The Last Man In Europe" in mind but his publisher didn't like that title and so Orwell changed it to "1984’’(11). Orwell himself was always unsure of it. It was his publisher, Fred Warburg who suggested that Nineteen Eighty-Four was a more commercial title.<br />These are all the possible evidence I could find to reason the motive behind the creation of this beautiful art but there are many more and there will be many others. Orwell gave the reason why he wrote in his famous essay ‘’Why I write’’ –‘’The Spanish war and other events in 1936-37 turned the scale and thereafter I knew where I stood. Every line of serious work that I have written since 1936 has been written, directly or indirectly, against totalitarianism and for democratic socialism, as I understand it. It seems to me nonsense, in a period like our own, to think that one can avoid writing of such subjects. Everyone writes of them in one guise or another. It is simply a question of which side one takes and what approach one follows. And the more one is conscious of one's political bias, the more chance one has of acting politically without sacrificing one's aesthetic and intellectual integrity.’’(&£$)<br />Orwell wrote "1984" for us, the future, in the hope we would recognize the signs and symptoms of tyrannical world government and prevent its establishment in our world. Let's make sure he did not write in vain.(12)<br />Amrendra Mishra<br />Word Count-3,216<br />