Essay on George Orwell 's 1949 Dystopian Novel, 1984

1117 Words Mar 22nd, 2016 5 Pages
The Past Controls the Present
It was 19th century historian Lord Acton who famously proclaimed, “Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely” (Acton Institute). Perhaps no modern book better exemplifies this statement than George Orwell’s 1949 dystopian novel, 1984. Set in fictitious Eurasia, 1984 explores what life would be like under a totalitarian dictatorship. Throughout the course of the narrative, Orwell considers many elements that allow a totalitarian government to not only consolidate their power, but also maintain it. Ultimately, Orwell shows his readers that absolute control over the past is perhaps the most important element in maintaining power in the present.
Through their firm control over the past, the Party is able to create the illusion that they are a perfect form of government, eradicating any desire among the public to overthrow them, or question them in any sense. Winston, 1984’s protagonist, is often tasked with assisting the Party in the creation of this immaculate appearance by rewriting certain events. He discusses this early in the book as he revises several articles, explaining, “The messages he had received referred to articles or news items which for one reason or another it was thought necessary to alter, or, as the official phrase had it, to rectify...It was therefore necessary to rewrite a paragraph of Big Brother 's speech, in such a way as to make him predict the thing that had actually happened” (56). This is a powerful…

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