Pascal Gunsch

1984

POSTER UTOPIA & DYSTOPIA

What is Utopia? What is Dystopia? In groups, make a poster to represent each individually. Write a short paragraph explaining each of your posters.
1984 Utopia Dystopia Poster

Utopia

In our utopia, the most important ‘thing’ would be nature. That is why we put a tree in the middle. Nature is important because it provides us with leisure activities as well as our needs such as food and raw materials. The tree also represents the ‘Tree of Life’. We think biodiversity is important, because all those different animals live in different habitats and we can learn and enjoy the way they cope with their way of life.
We think that there should be enough food and drinks for everyone. We also want there to be a good health care system in which there is a lot of personal attention and hopefully a cure to all diseases. This is what the hospital depicts.
The dove, of course, symbolises world peace. In our utopia, there are no wars or armed conflicts, because everyone talks with one another when there is a problem.
The football player in the middle stands for ‘sports’ and physical health. The sailing boat is another example of a sport that we should be able to practise at any time in our utopia. The aeroplane will take us to a lot of distant places, and therefore means travelling and holidays. Basically, we can say that we find leisure time and activities very important, which is also portrayed by the music notes, which (surprisingly) stand for music and parties.
The group of people on the foreground show family, friendship, love and connection. Speaking of love, the girl next to the footballer actually exemplifies the beautiful girls that live in our utopia.
The school illustrates education. We think this is important in some degree, because people always have an urge to learn new things. However, we want this school to be flexible and homework free.

Dystopia

In our dystopia things are far more than worse. The fire in the background represents destruction and devastation. In our dystopia, you don’t know how long things last as they can be destroyed any time. This is probably because of the large amount of wars that are fought. This is shown by the fighter jet and the genocide scene in the upper right corner.
The earth is depleted and ‘ill’. There are a lot of natural disasters and you can’t anymore speak of nature: everything is made synthetically. Because of this, there is not enough food supply which results in a lot of starvation. This is shown by the sick and hungry children in the picture.
The regime is a totalitarian communist dictatorship which doesn’t treat its citizens with respect. However, if they only do as much as thinking about the regime, they are decapitated.
Even on a smaller level, in our dystopia things aren’t quite the way you’d want them to be. For instance, all the girls are far too desperate and don’t really look nice. Furthermore, your parents are far to strict for you and there is a ban on alcoholic drinks and parties. However, the use of drugs is encouraged and everyone lives a very unhealthy life.

A NEW BEGINNING

Orwell had a pretty bleak and grim vision of his future and that of humanity. How do you see our future if we do not wake up and take some responsibility for the state of our world?
You are to write a new beginning to the novel or a beginning to your own novel as if it were taking place 50 years in the future (2063). You will need to include the following:
• create the setting
• set the tone, mood and begin to state the purpose or your message.
• use of descriptive language, literary devices and imagery
Your versions must be no less than 500 and no more than 800 words and are due on or before Friday October 11th.

2.0

It was a bright cold day in April. Not that it actually mattered: there was no one to keep track of the time, nor was there anyone to feel the cold. Humans and other major life forms had perished from the planet many years ago. All that was left was a vane and motionless surface; no plants, no animals, not another form of life could be found. Only the ruins of manmade structures, which had been eroded by wind, water and weather in time, towered high above the empty unearthly landscape.
After a flash of light, the man opened his eyes. The light made him think of a heavenly place where he lived in eternal peace, and he remembered having this feeling before, though he couldn’t recall when. Time seemed to have stopped, if it had existed at all. All he could remember now was that his eyes are having difficulty accommodating to the intense brightness. And that it felt as if he was floating – no, he was floating! He tried to stretch his legs, but they refused. He experienced that they probably hadn’t been stretched or moved at all for a long time.
Another flash of light. He now could clearly distinguish the plastic tubes, running from a vague murmuring device into his wrist. Surrounding him were the aluminium walls, inside which he would have been trapped, hadn’t it been the big circular window right in front of him. Again a flash. He saw a relief on the wall. It looked like him! Well, he hadn’t seen himself at all, but the relief seemed to have the same legs and arms! He tried to reach it in order to take a closer look, and despite his arms protesting, he managed to come close enough to actually touch the relief. Upon touching it, the space suddenly lit up in a dim orange light. Following a short but high pitched tone, a monotonous voice said:
Greetings, Earthling.
It were these very words that intrigued the Earthling. They added to his vanished memory; they proved to him that though he felt lonely, there had once been – and in his deepest hopes still was – a place whose inhabitants were called Earthlings, of whom he must have been part!
The voice continued: ‘The place you are from is a planet called Earth. The inhabitants, humans, just like you and me, have lived in peace with each other for thousands of years. They lived their lifes without worries and maintained and admired the nature surrounding them. Unfortunately, this joy couldn’t last for long. Due to advancing technology and increasing knowledge of the world around them, people grew older and wealthier.
Along with Wealth came Disease and Greed, hand in hand. They were all good friends, but as soon as Wealth grew to strong, Disease and Greed started to intervene. Disease whipped out Humans, but Humans were smart and invented medicine. In fact, Humans had always been joined by the other three. However, Wealth never grew strong enough to make the others act strong too, and when it did, it lasted only short. But when Wealth reached its apex and Disease was eliminated, Greed took advantage and told Humans about jealousy, envy and suspicion. These turned Humans against itself, and in no time, war followed.
All human civilisations were at war with one another and mechanically produced tons of weapons. These weapons, and the production of them, pulled nature out of its equilibrium into a state which made it impossible for it to return. Animals exponentially went extinct and the number of plants decreased rapidly. This went on for some time, until people discovered the problem couldn’t be fixed, at least, not within their lifetimes. Governments, which by that time had merged into huge unions as a result of their constant fighting, saw annihilation of humankind as the only plausible solution. This project, called ‘The Purification’, was not known by the people and anyone who discovered it, was eliminated.
A small group of opponents secretly selected the strongest of men and, after putting them in a deep coma, launched them into space, planned to return some 50 years later. That is the point where you are now; and you, Earthling, will have to save the Earth, and bring it back to life…’

STUDY QUESTIONS

1 What is important about the title of 1984?
The book was finished in 1948, and when you switch the last two digits of that year, you get 1984. In this way Orwell presents his book as a prediction of a future which would exist if the Second World War and the Nazi and Soviet regimes would have continued. Orwell’s prediction is not very far (only 35 years) in the future, so it addresses directly to the readers (in 1949).

2 What are the conflicts in 1984? What types of conflict (physical, moral, intellectual, or emotional) are in this novel?
There are a lot of conflicts in 1984. For instance, the Party slogans ‘War is Peace’, ‘Freedom is Slavery’ and ‘Ignorance is Strength’, almost seem paradoxical and conflict with our common sense. This is an example of intellectual conflicts, others being 2 + 2 = 5 and the constant switching between ally and enemy.
Another kind of conflict found in 1984 is the emotional conflict found in Winston’s marriage with Katherine and his secret love affair with Julia. Some examples of a social conflict in 1984 is the huge difference between the Inner and Outer Party members and the fact that no one can look you in the eyes.
The physical conflict is Winston’s torture at the end of the book, as well as the continuous war with the other superstates and the occasionally dropping bombs which result from this war.
The moral conflict in this book are the concepts of doublethink and thought crime, and the purpose of Newspeak, to eliminate free thought.

3 How does George Orwell reveal character in 1984?
Orwell reveals Winston’s character partially by his actions, but mostly by his thoughts. Orwell found some interesting techniques to perceive the thoughts of Winston, for example, using the diary (in which he writes his thoughts) or in his conversations with Julia.

4 What are some themes in the story? How do they relate to the plot and characters?
Totalitarianism, love, free will, choices, alienation, truth, indoctrination and loyalty and trust are some themes in the story. Winston has a relation with all of these themes in everything he does and thinks, and while the book progresses, Winston’s consciousness about these themes and their true meaning also changes.

5 What are some symbols in 1984? How do they relate to the plot and characters?
Some symbols in 1984 are O’Brien (only in the beginning),the song of the churches, the glass paperweight, the painting of the church, Mr. Charrington’s Shop, Julia, his diary, Room 101, the Prole woman and the uniforms. These symbols make you think the plot will be okay, that the Brotherhood does exist, that the Party will be destroyed and that there will be a time when free thought is allowed. However, at the end of section II, the meaning of the symbols twist and become irony. O’Brien, for instance, at first symbolised hope and contact, but after the arrest scene he symbolised betrayal and the fact that you can trust no one. The glass paperweight and the coral inside it at first symbolised the inalterability of the past and dreams and hopes, but after it was scattered, it symbolised how small Winston was in the world of the party and how easy the past can be destroyed.

6 Is Winston consistent in his actions? Is he a fully developed character? How? Why?
As a character, Winston is not fully developed. We only know his thoughts from the moment he was introduced and a small part of his past by flashbacks. Furthermore, he is not consistent in his actions too. At first he trusted no one, but when he got Julia’s note he suddenly tells her everything.

7 Do you find the characters likable? Would you want to meet the characters?
The characters are quite likeable. This, however, doesn’t mean I would like to meet one of the characters. They all live in a sad and lonely world, and after Winston’s and Julia’s stay at the Ministry of Love, they became emotionless beings that couldn’t do anything but feel love for the Party. O’Brien is the antagonist and so I definitely wouldn’t want to meet him.

8 Does the story end the way you expected? How? Why?
Yes and no. No, because secretly I was hoping for an ending in which the Brotherhood took down the Party and Big Brother and a democracy would be established, but I knew that this is impossible. The world Orwell’s sketches in 1984 is unchangeable. There is no way of stopping the Party other than the Party stopping itself.

9 What is the central/primary purpose of the story? Is the purpose important or meaningful?
I think the primary purpose of the story is to warn us. If the Nazis or the Soviets won the war, the world in the novel would have become reality in the year 1984. This warning is very important to keep in mind and thus the book is very meaningful.

10 How does this novel relate to dystopian literature? Is Winston a strong character?
The story is about (Winston’s) life in a dystopian world, so obviously this novel is dystopian literature. Winston is not a very strong, he rather is inconsistent and physically weak. However, on the other hand, though we don’t know how long he has been in the Ministry of Love, we can say that it took very long for the Party to indoctrinate him so far that he loved big brother and in some way Winston tells us that the human soul can be broken, but that there will have to be a lot of time and efforts to do so.

11 How essential is the setting to the story? Could the story have taken place anywhere else? In any other time?
The story is set in London. This is quite significant, since the book was written shortly after the Second World War. In this war, England remained unoccupied and was spared from totalitarianism. In this way, Orwell makes a bigger impression on the reader than setting the story in, for example, Germany or Russia. Besides, London is well-known around the world and so the churches and pictures he mentions are likely to be known by the reader.
The time is also significant, as Orwell’s future is only 35 years later. This is the time most of the readers at the time of publication would still be alive and so he addressed to them directly, instead of writing a story which would concern their grand-grandchildren.

12 What is the role of women in the text? Is love relevant? Are relationships meaningful?
In 1984’s society, women are baby producers and workers, but no more. They are supposed only to have sex as a ‘duty to the party’ and work, just like the men. The most important role of women is that of love. Love forces people to make choices and choices force people to think, something which is not desired in 1984. Any relationship between a man and his wife that is more than the production of babies can be seen as a small rebel.
The woman is just there to have babies, if she has sex for fun she is a rebel. So I think women can be a real form of rebellion in the story. If you love, you are a rebellion as well. So love and relations are more seen rioting than as truly love and relationships.

13 Why is 1984 controversial? Why has it been banned?
1984 was banned in the former USSR. This probably has to do with the fact that the book is more of a direct attack on socialism (Ingsoc) and the totalitarian communism. People in the USSR who would read this book probably could relate it to their reality in such an extent that it would cause a revolution or at least disobedience.

14 How does 1984 relate to current politics/society/etc.?
It shows what would happen if one party got all power, so it shows why democracy or monarchy is a good thing and oligarchy can escalate in a ‘Big Brother is Watching You’ form of government. However, not only totalitarian governments survey as is illustrated by the PRISM programme and internet conflicts which challenge personal privacy. Nonetheless, it reminds us that we may be happy to live in our world as it is today and should be careful when it comes down to surveillance and dictatorships.

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