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George Orwell
An Introduction to 1984
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The Author
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George Orwell: 1903-1950 Politically Motivated Writer (Socialist) Wrote novels, and non-fiction essays Wrote 1984 in 1948 Also author of Animal Farm
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His Socialist Connections
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He was born Eric Hugh Blair, the middle child of a minor govt official. Sent to an expensive prep school--treated as a “charity case.” Allowed him to identify with the underdog. 1936--Goes to Spain to write about Spanish Civil War but instead joined the anti-Franco militia backed but Trotsky-ite Communists.

Orwell & Socialism
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Wounded and was discharged just in time to escape from the country. Communists outlawed the militia; Orwell becomes disillusioned with Communism Orwell concluded that all revolutions fail because those who attain power are corrupted by it.

Orwell’s Beliefs
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When he returned to England, Orwell & his wife lived on a farm. Orwell seemed to believe that nature was the only truly “Utopian state” possible. 1984 was published in 1949; Orwell died in 1950 not ever having known how famous and widely read (and referenced) his novel would be.

Context of 1984
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Written 3 years after the end of WWII World in state of uncertainty after the traumas of the war (Hiroshima & Nagasaki) Huge divide emerging between Communist USSR and Capitalist West Beginning of the “Cold War.”

Setting
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The novel is set in a future British society, years after a nuclear war has occurred (Oceania) Society is split into three groups: Inner Party, Outer Party and Proles Every aspect of a Party member’s life is controlled by the Party--Individual freedom does not exist

Features of the Society
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Telescreens Newspeak-reduction of language Thought Police (Thought Crime) Constant state of war with other countries Rationing Control of the media/newspapers/past Big Brother!!!!

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Characters
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Winston Smith: the protagonist; a party member who resents the control the party exerts Big Brother: the semi-mythical leader of the Party. Images of his face are omni-present in society. Julia-A representative of the “perfect party member.” Is she all that she seems to be?

Focus As We Read
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Can you find any parallels with the society that Orwell describes and our own society? Make note of these we read.  Our focus will be on the ideas presented, not necessarily the plot.

Part II: Chapter 9 Goldstein’s Book
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Winston is given a copy of the book and begins to read in order to understand the history behind the Party and the Totalitarian state. Winston reads two long excerpts from chapters 1 & 3 of “The Book.”

Chapter 1: Ignorance is Strength
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Details the perpetual class struggle. Throughout history, all societies have been divided into a caste system of three groups: the High, who are the rulers; the Middle, who yearn to take over the position of the High; and the Low, who are typically so suppressed that in their drudgery they have no goals beyond survival.

Ignorance is Strength
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Time and time again, the Middle have overthrown the High only to become the new High and oppress the Low.  20th century technological developments made it possible for the Inner Party to control the Middle/Low.  The proletarian masses of Oceania itself will not rise up against the Party, for they are denied any standards of comparison and are thus not even aware they are oppressed.

Breakdown of the People
Big Brother
Inner Party

Outer Party

Proles 85% of the Population

Chapter 3: War is Peace
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3 Superstates: Eurasia, Eastasia and Oceania In one combo or another, these 3 superstates are constantly at war with one another It is a war of limited aims: combatants are unable to destroy one another, no material cause for fighting; no ideological differences

Chapter 3: War is Peace
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The war is, essentially, fake. Very little fighting, very few casualties No super-state can/will overthrow another as they are too evenly matched. There is nothing to fight about. The primary aim in modern warfare is to use up the the products of the “machine” without raising the primary standard of living.

Chapter 3: War is Peace
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The two aims of the Party are to conquer the whole surface of the earth and to extinguish once and for all the possibility of independent thought. It is absolutely imperative that there be no contact with foreigners because people would discover that they are all alike and all information they have been told about the foreigners are lies.

Chapter 3: War is Peace
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When war becomes literally continuous, it also ceases to be dangerous. When war is continuous there is not such thing as military necessity. Though the war is unreal, it is not meaningless. It eats up the surplus of consumable goods, and it helps preserve the special mental atmosphere that a hierarchical society needs.

The Concept of Big Brother
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“Big Brother is infallible, all-powerful. Every success, every achievement, every victory, every scientific discovery, all knowledge, all wisdom, all happiness, all virtue, are held to issue directly from his leadership and inspiration. Nobody has ever seen Big Brother.” (page 171)

Big Brother
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His function is to act as a focusing point for love, fear, and reverence, emotions which are now easily felt toward toward an individual than toward an organization.” (171)

The Life of the Party Members
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“A Party member lives from birth to death under the eye of the Thought Police.” (173) A Party member is expected to have no private emotions and no respites from enthusiasm. He is supposed to live in a continuous frenzy of hatred of foreign enemies and internal traitors

Oceania/Party Terms/Ideas
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In Oceania there is no law. A Party member is required to have not only the right opinions, but the right instincts. Crimestop: means the ability of stopping short as though by instinct, at the threshold of any dangerous thought. It includes the power of not grasping analogies, of failing to perceive logical errors…In short, it means “protective stupidity.”

Terms/Ideas Con’t
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Black/White: A loyal willingness to say what one knows is not true and more importantly, to believe it. 2 + 2= 5 Mutability of the past: need to safeguard the infallibility of the Party; erases the standards of comparison. Central tenet of Ingsoc (English Socialism).

Terms Con’t
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Doublethink: the power of holding two contradictory beliefs in one’s mind simultaneously and accepting both of them.

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