Strengths and Weaknesses



        One of 1984’s major strengths is its profound message of the psychological views, instincts, and behaviors of the human race. Orwell creates a miserable world that is a result of the human hankering for power and control. For instance, the “Proles,” which are 85% of the Oceania population that live in callous poverty are described and referenced in such a bone chilling and graphic manner. Also, Orwell describes detail very well such as the illustration of the “Physical Jerks” morning exercises saying, “Winston sprang to attention in front of the telescreens, upon which the image of a youngish woman, scrawny but muscular, dressed in tunic and gym shoes, had already appeared...”Arms bending and stretching!” she rapped out. “Take your time, by me. One, two, three, four! One, two, three four! Come on comrades, put a bit of life into it! One, two, three, four! One, two, three, four...” (Orwell 32) The examples Orwell forms to depict the control and eeriness seem so realistic and possible, especially after his in-depth reasoning of how these situations become reality.

        On the contrary, one of the book’s major weaknesses, I think, is its lack of plot. Although Orwell does a great job at explaining the details of the characters and places as well as the conclusions of the totalitarian government, I feel as though the book could have included more action and more plot complications. When reading the novel, it often seemed as though Orwell delivers the same message repeatedly, particularly toward the middle/end of the book. It may have been more interesting to condense the explanations and incorporate more engagement with the characters because I thoroughly enjoyed the narration parts when the characters were included. According to Lisa from Chellman.org, “The book is actually short on plot...it's more of a philosophy book... [it’s] a great read if you can slog through the chapters that are pure philosophy but [I] still think about it not as science fiction but as present-day commentary”. (Chellman) For the most part, I agree with this statement. Nevertheless, I think Orwell fully intended to create the book this way; 1984 was usually pretty engaging, especially if you are already familiar with the concepts and political science topics discussed throughout the novel.

        As I mentioned earlier, 1984’s intended purpose is misunderstood or argued by many readers. According to a Privacy Fundamentals review of 1984 from Privacilla.org, “Orwell wrote 1984 to caution against the power of governments much more than to warn about a future of lost privacy. There is an inverse relationship between privacy and government power, of course, but it is excess government that creates lack of privacy, rather than the reverse”. Also, many people think Orwell should have given instructions or advice on how to deal with living in a totalitarian society, or better yet, how to prevent one from happening. However, I agree with the picture below, believing that Orwell’s purpose was purely to warn readers about dangers of the future and explain the facts and operations behind such a government controlled society.
 

        Lastly, I was disappointed in the ending when Winston finally gave into his fear (a cage of rats in the dreaded room 101) and basically offered for them to take Julia instead of him. Winston was transformed into a true follower of Big Brother, losing his individuality and love for Julia. Again, I understand Orwell’s reasoning when writing this because essentially he is showing that under such control, especially with both physical and mental torture, being brainwashed is practically inescapable. Humans naturally care about themselves first and foremost. I was, of course, hoping for an ending in which Winston, who I grew to relate to throughout the novel, came out the hero, somehow overthrowing the Party and saving the magnificence of the human race; but this was not what the novel intended to illustrate.

 
 
 
               ...“In the end the Party would announce that two and two made five, and you would have to believe it. It was inevitable that they should make that claim sooner or later: the logic of their position demanded it. Not merely the validity of experience, but the very existence of external reality was tacitly denied by their philosophy.”...
 
 
 
 
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