“Power is not a means; it is an end. One does not establish a dictatorship in order to safeguard a revolution; one makes the revolution in order to establish the dictatorship. The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power.” – George Orwell, 1984.
Eric Arthur Blair, who is more commonly recognized by his pen name of George Orwell, has a reputation for writing novels that are highly political. Orwell constructs novels that criticize the ways of society and despotism. What I enjoy most about reading novels written by Orwell is that there is always an underlying message on humanity.
The established English novelist and essayist was born on June 25th, 1903. His most reputable pieces of writing are Animal Farm (1945) and 1984 (1949).
Orwell was born in Bengal, India. His father was a British official who was apart of the Indian civil service. Orwell’s mother was French. Later in life, Orwell would state that his family was apart of the lower-middle class, however, they acted as if they were of a higher class. Orwell believed his mother and father were pretentious individuals.
Once his parents returned to England, Orwell attended boarding school in 1911. He stood out from his classmates due to his poverty and gift of intelligence. He is described as introverted, thoughtful, and eccentric.
With his bright intellectual abilities, Orwell achieved two prestigious scholarships to the schools Wellington and Eton. He attended both schools but spent majority of his time at Eton from 1917 to 1921.
Before he pursued writing he moved to Myanmar, otherwise known as Burma, and became apart of the Indian Imperial Police. This was a family tradition that he followed. However, while Orwell served, he began to feel shameful of his role as a colonial officer. He realized how the Burmese people were treated harshly by the British. In 1927, he left Myanmar and returned to England and resigned from his duties as an officer.
The experiences of George Orwell in Burma are written in his autobiographical book Burmese Days.
The Beginnings of a Literary Career
“The fallacy is to believe that under a dictatorial government you can be free inside.” – George Orwell, As I Please.
Back in England, Orwell did the unimaginable. With a great force of guilt upon his shoulders, Orwell began to live amongst those who struggled with poverty. He lived in the cheapest of homes beside homeless individuals. These experiences shaped him as an author.
Orwell ended up moving to Paris and took up a job as a dishwasher. Shortly after this, he wrote Down and Out in Paris and London where he took real events of his life and twisted them into fiction. The novel was published in 1933. He also wrote Keep the Aspidistra Flying in 1936.
During this era, George Orwell began to set a precedent that would continue as he wrote more literature. In his novels, Orwell’s protagonist would be isolated from society. The protagonist would be a figure who is conscious of the offenses in society, which separates the individual from others. For example, in Burmese Days, the protagonist is an administrator who wishes to separate himself from British colonialists in Burma. The protagonist has great sympathy for the Burmese individuals who are persecuted.
George Orwell fought hard against imperialism, colonialism, and totalitarianism in his novels. He was angry with his government system and wanted a change. He rejected the bourgeois lifestyle, which is defined as a lifestyle where one’s political views reflect capitalism. Orwell alternated between political views of anarchism, socialism, and communism. These ideologies shaped and influenced his writing.
Animal Farm (1944)
“All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others”. – George Orwell, Animal Farm.
This one-hundred paged fable features the story of a group of barnyard animals who decide that they will overthrow their exploitative leader, Mr. Jones. The pigs, which are deemed the most intelligent animals, gain power over the farm. They promise the other animals that they will be competent and fair rulers, however, soon the pigs revert the farm back to a dictatorship and act in a highly oppressive manner, much more discriminatory than Mr. Jones. It is inspired by the events of the Russian Revolution.
Animal Farm is a fascinating retelling of events of the Russian Revolution. In this novel, each barnyard animal represents a specific group or individual from this time period.
- Old Major: Karl Marx
- Snowball: Leon Trotsky
- Napoleon: Josef Stalin
- Squealer: Propaganda
- Moses: Organized religion
- Boxer: Russian labourers.
- Clover: Soviet country women.
- Mollie: The bourgeoisie
- Puppies: Napoleon’s secret military unit
- Mr. Jones: Czar Nicholas II
- Mr. Frederick: Adolf Hitler
- Mr. Pilkington: Capiatlistic government
If you enjoy historic novels, you’ll thoroughly enjoy reading Animal Farm. It is an impactful novel on the consequences of power.
“Every record has been destroyed or falsified, every book written, every picture has been repainted, every statue and street building has been renamed, every date has been altered. And the process is continuing day by day and minute by minute. History has stopped. Nothing exists except an endless present in which the Party is always right.”– George Orwell, 1984.
The creation of this reputable dystopian novel was written as a warning against Nazism and Stalinism.
The novel is set in the future. The year is 1984 and society is entirely controlled by a totalitarian police state. All citizens understand that they must be absolutely obedient to their ruler, Big Brother. Three slogans that the citizens must follow are “War is peace, freedom is slavery and ignorance is strength”. Through the Thought Police, the government has full control over their citizens.
The protagonist of the story is an individual named Winston Smith. His job involves working with the Ministry of Truth to rewrite historic events to shape present political ideologies. Winston is a thoughtful individual who is frustrated with how citizens are ruled by the Party.
Themes of totalitarianism, propaganda, liberty, love, and betrayal are covered in this brilliant novel. Many consider 1984 to be Orwell’s best work.
The Brilliance of Orwell Remains
After writing Animal Farm, Orwell bought an isolated home on the Hebridean island of Jura. Throughout this time, he wrote the last pages of 1984 while suffering from tuberculosis. He died in London in January of 1950.
George Orwell’s novels have assisted in formation of the dystopian genre. His novel 1984 covers similar themes to established modern novels such as The Hunger Games.
Have you heard of the CBS reality television series Big Brother? Well, it was inspired by the character of Big Brother in 1984! The series covers a group of individuals who form alliances and compete in challenges to win money. The reason this series is named after Big Brother is because in the show, cameras watch every moment the contestants make.
George Orwell is a brilliant figure in literature. His novels are still read, discussed, and analyzed to this day. Most importantly, George Orwell was a man who never swayed from his beliefs.
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