“George Orwell’s Symbolism and Derivation for 1984 ”
George Orwell’s 1984 has had a profound effect upon the way people thought during the mid 20th century. The book signified Orwell’s most complex novel which told the story of Arthur Koestler and the countless others who suffered because of the totalitarian governments in Eastern Europe ( Meyers 114). When 1984 was published in 1949, the Cold War had just begun. The novel’s ending was pessimistic and thus seemed as an attack on socialism in Communist Russia. The novel was also considered to be the prophecy of what would happen to the West if the communist ideology spread. The idea for writing 1984 also came from an American economist name James Burnham. Burnham predicted that if Germany had won the war, the world would be divided into three areas (Meyers 125). This idea is used by Orwell because the society in 1984 is centered around 3 areas- Oceania, Eurasia, and Eastasia.
Koestler, a refugee from Fascist and Communist prisons, was the model for protagonist of 1984 – Winston Smith. Orwell chose this name because he felt that the reader could relate to Winston. By using the last name ‘Smith’ it conveys the universal appeal of everyman. The name Winston was chosen because Winston Churchill ruled England at the time and was seen as a hero. (Gardner 118) From this, Orwell puts forth the idea that anyone can do anything and rise to greatness.
The physical setting of 1984 came from the actual way London looked during the war years. The Ministry of Truth, the place where Winston worked was derived British Broadcast Company (BBC) building. Inside the BBC, there was a restaurant that had a dish called ‘Victory Pie’. And thus, Orwell used Victory as the word that proceed as all objects – Victory gin, Victory apartments, etc. (Gardner 112)
Orwell worked in the Information area for the BBC. This department was
headed by a man named Brendan Bracken, who was called ‘B.B.’ ( Gardner 112). Big
Brother was one of the many propaganda tools used in 1984. The face of Big Brother is
used to promote the ideal man, one who is tall and muscular living in a perfect world. Big
Brother represents Stalin, Lenin, and Hitler. All three were totalitarian figures who
frightened all as the world saw the horror of their powers. Posters of these men were
hung all over their countries to give the effect that you could not escape their presence.
Hence the term in 1984, “Big Brother is Watching”. Orwell may have been thinking about
figures in certain religious faiths when he drew Big Brother. The mysterious, powerful,
God-like figure who sees and knows everything–but never appears in person. The Hate Week Rallies are a reference to Hitler’s Nuremberg Rallies, in which the presenters brought the crowd to a hysteria and hatred of Jews. Goldstein being used at these hate speeches represents the conspiracy against the Jews and Stalin’s hatred toward Trotsky. Both parties were able to brainwash children into believing the ideals the totalitarian parties through the Hitler Youth Squad and Soviet Young Pioneers. (Meyers 121)
Winston and Julia’s attire of the blue overalls represent the appearance of many English civilians, but also the Bolsheviks working attire. The Three Year Plans are similar to Stalin’s Five Year Plans. (Meyers 122)
The function of Room 101 was to eradicate every possibility of competing passion. It goes along the with the saying, “Thou shalt love thy God with thy hole heart and thy hole mind, no corner however tiny reserved for inferior loyalties.” (Reilly 272) In Room 101, a person learned to value God/Big Brother above everything else and devote their life to them.
Orwell leaves the reader with a grim view for the future at the end of 1984. He felt that morals are revolutionary are constantly undermining one another. Orwell said, “Marx had exploded a hundred tons of dynamite beneath the moralist position, and we are still living in the echo of that tremendous crash. But, already, somewhere or other, the sappers are at work and fresh dynamite is being tamped in place to blow Marx to the moon. Then Marx, or somebody like him