What is there to write that hasn’t already been written about George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-four? Like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, the novel’s ideas proved so fundamental they have become idiomatic in the English language. ‘Big Brother’, ‘Thought Police’, ‘Orwellian’, and to some extent ‘doublethink’ and ‘2+2=5’, are expressions most are familiar with and part of everyday speech. Given the depth political and social realities are delved into in realistic, eye-opening fashion, it’s an understatement to write Nineteen Eighty-four is one of the most significant works of science fiction to have been written.
Ignore the title; Nineteen Eighty-four is not an attempt at futurology. Intended as a cautionary, the book is the story of Winston Smith, an ordinary government worker living in unordinary circumstances. His job to revise history per orders from above, Smith’s life is filled to the brim with cameras, listening devices, and government snitches trying to maintain a status quo that is anything but free. The Party’s totalitarian regime—generally nicknamed ‘Big brother’ by citizenry—monitors nearly all aspects of life, including work, home, even people’s love lives. Beyond voyeuristic, Smith et al must watch their every move lest the most minor of statutes or laws be broken. The Thought Police watching and waiting, most offenders are dragged away, never to be seen again. Smith’s days filled with anxiety and dread as he trudges from work to home, meeting the enigmatic Julia one day moves life in new directions. But is Big Brother watching?