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Sarah Quote Analysis

on Tue Nov 07, 2017 11:52 pm
"How could you communicate with the future? It was of its nature impossible. Either the future would resemble the present, in which case it would not listen to him: or it would be different from it, and his predicament would be meaningless."

This reflection made by Winston, found on page 10 in Penguin Books’ publication of Nineteen Eighty-Four, occurs as he’s about to write in his diary for the first time. This quote stood out to me because I saw it not only as a reflection of self-doubt made by Winston, but also one made by George Orwell himself about his novel as a whole.

First of all, Orwell received great critical acclaim for his preceding novel, Animal Farm, which was published in 1945, so he must have felt a certain pressure for his following novel to live up to his readers expectations. Also, this passage is found very early on in the novel, where Orwell would have surely doubted himself, like most people beginning a lengthy project.

Second of all, When Orwell wrote Nineteen Eighty-Four in 1948, Stalin was the dictator of the USSR and Hitler had been in power just three years before. This novel was Orwell’s warning to his readers, including future generations, of the consequences of a totalitarian state and the hopes that those events would not repeat themselves. In a letter he wrote in 1944, Orwell expressed his concerns regarding the rise of totalitarianism. “But if the sort of world that I am afraid of arrives, a world of two or three great superstates which are unable to conquer one another, two and two could become five if the fuhrer wished it.” (Davison, Peter). This theme became the general thesis of Nineteen Eighty-Four, which would be published five years later. Coming back to the quote, Orwell must have doubted his capability of conveying this warning to future generations.

Finally, in the novel, Winston failed to communicate his message with the future since he and his diary were discovered by the State. In one way it can be viewed that Orwell failed in his mission to be heard by future generations. Donald Trump, the president of “the land of the free”, has certain characteristics of a totalitarian leader, considering his terms such as “alternative facts” (Johnston, Ian) and his tendency to manipulate the truth, blatantly disregard facts, and give false claims. On the other hand, it can be perceived that Orwell’s warning is being heard, considering the rise of the novel’s sales since Trump’s presidency. The week of his inauguration, Nineteen Eighty-Four became the #1 best-selling book on Amazon (Tuttle, Brad).

-Sarah

References
Davison, Peter. "George Orwell’S Letter On Why He Wrote ‘1984’." The Daily Beast, 2013, thedailybeast(.com)/george-orwells-letter-on-why-he-wrote-1984.
Johnston, Ian. "US Scientists Fear America Under Donald Trump Will Become Like A Totalitarian Regime." The Independent, 2017, independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/us-scientists-donald-trump-america-societ-union-russia-politics-climate-change-denierfossil-fuels-a7584101.html.
Tuttle, Brad. "Trump Bump? George Orwell's '1984' Spiking On Amazon." Money, 2017, time(.com)/money/4648774/trump-1984-dystopian-novel-sales-brave-new-world/.
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