By November 28, 2012 0 Comments

George Orwell – 1984

When I was at school, Mrs. Dew my English teacher, introduced me to George Orwell’s writing and he has since become my  all time favourite author.  Mrs. Dew motivated me to read his books, especially ‘Animal Farm’ and ‘1984’ She knew me more than I knew myself back then and she promised me a life changing experience.  I enjoyed Animal Farm, but I felt it lacking to the classic literary genius: 1984 – a book that I read well over seven times and counting…

I finished 1984 in less than a week, I was so absorbed, I simply could not put the book down.  I remember secretly reading it when I was in other unrelated classes such as biology or economics where I would hide the book under notes and pretend to be busy with something while in fact I would be peering from time to time and reading whatever lines I could.  When I finished it, I felt melancholic and distant from my peers, my friends and even my family.  I could not explain my emotions for I felt a deep connection with the characters and even though they were fictitious, I still mourned them as if they were real.  I was introduced to the book in the year of 1984, so it had even more of  a profound impact on me.  Everyone makes a life changing connection with a book in their lives and my ‘metamorphosis’ from childhood and into adulthood began with 1984.

On the surface, the simple story was captivating; Julia and Winston engaged in a covert love affair, meeting in secrecy in a an old dusty room in the sanctuary of a withering antiques store in the proletarian part of town.  They shared intimate moments and enjoyed basic human activity which we take for granted in free society.   I particularly remember a part when Julia smuggled coffee to the rendezvous one day and how Winston, clutched the bag of coffee and held it under his nose and inhaled the aroma, exclaiming in utter bewilderment that it was coffee, real coffee.

Even though the story is a pleasure to read in its own right, I was fascinated with Orwell’s depiction of a brutal totalitarian police state where everyone and everything is closely monitored and observed.  The ominous and overpowering image of a Big Brother gazing back from posters and Telescreens – television-like units that served a non-stop barrage of propaganda at the audience and also served as surveillance into people’s homes, lives and generally every part of their day to day activity.   Orwell’s apocalyptic vision is extreme and disheartening and we hope that we never witness or endure such a reality, yet, very sadly, it does exist and at varying levels all around the world.  The book serves a higher purpose than simply a torn love story in the face of tyranny.  We are educated about the dire consequences of ultimate power corrupted and twisted and humanity’s eventual and inevitable demise as a consequence – the breaking or the undoing of the human spirit.  In the final chapters we realize how even hope can be twisted through fear and pain: “If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face — forever”

Unfortunately, nothing is perfect and my only disappointment is actually with the movie 1984 featuring William Hurt.  After so much attention to detail and following the story through carefully, I do not understand why they chose to end it in the cheap manner that they did which completely diluted the very substance and essence of the book.  Unlike the book, the movie ended in a very confusing and vague manner and we are left with questions.  The acting is very good and Richard Burton who played the part of O’Brien is phenomenal.

Plus big thank you Mr Orwell for a most fascinating and life changing experience.  I salute you sir…

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