2Background and Setting 1984 is set in London about 40 years after WWII. The Inner Party is in control.The city is not identified as London, but as Airstrip One, which is the capital of Oceania.Oceania is an empire that consists of North and South America, Great Britain, and part of Africa.Eurasia and Eastasia are enemies of Oceania.Four particular places are important to the setting:1. Winston’s apartment2. Winston’s workplace (Ministry of Truth)3. The apartment (rented)4. Ministry of Love (rehabilitation)
3Themes…Dominant theme in 1984 is CONTROL!!!! “Big Brother is Watching You.”The government controls every aspect of its subjects’ lives: physical, psychological, and emotional.A Party member (citizen) is under constant surveillance via telescreens, hidden microphones, and spies working for the Thought Police.The telescreen is not only for surveillance, but is used most as a primary tool for the inculcation of whatever idea the Party desires into the minds of the Party members.Using auditory and visual images, the Party drives a never ending stream of input into its members’ minds.
4Psychological and Emotional Control One’s own family is used as a source of psychological control.Marriage is permitted only for the purpose of procreation (lack of love or emotion).Children (from an early age) are encouraged to turn in their parents for thought crimes.Sex is discouraged when it is an act of joy or intimacy.Sex is encouraged only for creating new offspring (aka - new Party members).
5Physical ControlParty members are required to participate in mandatory exercises.Party members work long and tiring days.The government rations food and provides alcohol and cigarettes designed to leave the user in a tranquilized daze = a Party too tired to mount any real resistance against the authority, which is the Inner Party.Physical control over information extends to the dissemination of information.The Ministry of Truth is constantly re-writing history and finding ways to make the English language less ambiguous and reducing language to a grunting of syllables, which makes the language less intelligible over time.“The reduction of language facilitates in a reduction in thought; the human mind cannot long entertain a thought it cannot frame into words” (Boysen 4).
61984 – A Dystopian NovelWritten in a dystopian style (a society characterized by human misery, oppression, disease, and overcrowding.) The key to this style is the use of language. Rhetoric, diction, and syntax are essential to the effect of this novel.Plot line follows one of two directions: terrible things happen to the characters, but the characters either (a) escape their fate, or (b) the “establishment” wins.Structurally, dystopian novels are usually divided into three parts or acts.Part I: mostly exposition and establishes the parameters of the society and introduces the characters.Part II: contains most of the rising action and follows the attempts of the main character to either escape or change society.Part III: contains the falling action and the aftermath of the action in part II. The theme is often derived from the resolution of the plot.
7Characters in the Dystopian novel Representatives of the powerful (those in control)Representatives of the “typical” citizen unaware of the society’s flaws.At least one character is disenfranchised by the society, who desires either to escape or to change.Sometimes these characters begin the novel loving the society (may hold a high rank), but events in the novel cause a change in belief.Sometimes these characters begin the novel already disliking the society, but may feel powerless to effect change.
8Common thematic traits in a dystopian novel… The individual is worth nothing more that his or her value as part of the governmental machinePower can reside either in a single dictator or larger governmental organizationMajor forms of control in many dystopian novels include communication, education, mass media, and popular culture.Military control can be a factor.The controlling power often uses culture to distract its members and control them.The controlling power uses a scapegoat to deflect the blame for the suffering of the people.
9Background about author George Orwell (pseudonym for Eric Blair)Lived 1903 – 1950Born in Bengal, part of the British colony of IndiaFather, Richard, worked for the Opium Department of the civil service.Returned to England in 1904 with his mother and did not see his father again until 1907.Had two sisters; he was the middle child.Attended Eton from 1917 – 1921.Joined Indian Imperial Police in Burma in 1921Returned to England in 1928, disenchanted with imperialism.
10Took his pseudonym in 1933. St Took his pseudonym in St. George is England’s patron saint, and the River Orwell (found in Suffolk) was one of Blair’s favorite places to visit.Lived for several years as an adult in poverty and at times was homeless.Worked as a journalist and essayist. He often wrote early in his career about his struggles as a poor writer in Paris and London.Volunteered to fight for the republicans in the Spanish Civil War; was shot in the neck in May 1937.Left Spain in June 1937.Served in the BBC Eastern Service during WWII.Published Animal Farm in 1945.Published 1984 in 1949.Married Eileen O’Shaughnessy in 1936 and then adopted a son. She died in 1945.He then married Sonia Brownell in 1949.George Orwell died January 21, 1950, of Tuberculosis.