The Themes of George Orwell’s “1984” Are Still Relevant In 2017
The classic dystopian novel was originally published in 1949.
When we talk about works of dystopian fiction, George Orwell will inevitably be mentioned. Orwell’s 1984 is widely recognized as one of the best works of dystopian fiction, often mentioned alongside Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World for their portrayals of a society oppressed by a totalitarian government.
2016 was a year dominated by the U.S. Presidential election, and 67 years after it was originally published, some of the themes of 1984 seemed to have found a second wind and regained relevancy courtesy of now President-Elect Donald Trump, a figure built through a cult of personality not too different from Big Brother. The parallels do not end there, however.
“He took a twenty-five cent piece out of his pocket. There too, in tiny clear lettering, the same slogans were inscribed, and on the other face of the coin the head of Big Brother. Even from the coin the eyes pursued you. On coins, on stamps, on the covers of books, on banners, on posters, and on the wrappings of a cigarette packet — everywhere. Always the eyes watching you and the voice enveloping you.”
In the world of 1984, Big Brother is always watching, whether it’s his moustached face on large posters plastered on walls or the omnipresent “telescreens” that force you to not only act, but also think, in conformity with the Party. One could argue that Orwell’s telescreens are alive and well in 2017, taking the form of our handheld smartphones. There are very few places one can go where there isn’t a phone nearby, and more often than not, that phone is our very own. Our phones control us. Social media enslaves us. Through the constant bombardment of images that promote slogans like “be thin” or “get more followers”, social media and the devices we use to access them become the ever-gazing eye, a gaze so omnipresent and omnipotent that we end up feeling like we have to…