Why do we keep reading “the classics”? What a dumb question! Among many other reasons, we keep reading them because everything that comes “after” is influenced by what came “before,” whether it acknowledges it or not. If you buy into the notion that “history repeats itself,” we have a valuable window into our futures that can be accessed by looking at our pasts, and this is rarely more obvious than in George Orwell’s novel, 1984. The consistent relevance of this novel remains unnervingly apt to this day.
1984 is a work of fiction, written in 1949, that speaks of the (then) future as a dystopian society oppressed by the government and lured into a state of perpetual obedience by threat of death. I live in the United States, a country full of opinionated, suspicious, self-empowered people, none of whom can I picture being easily wrangled into submission by the government, as is the case in Orwell’s novel. However, improbability does not equal impossibility, and equipping individuals with knowledge about the power and influence of the government is pivotal to our longevity as a democracy.
Many versions of this “cautionary tale” have raised societal awareness (and paranoia) since the 1950’s, and my favorite was the movie, “V for Vendetta.” Paired alongside 1984, many parallels can be found and used to show individuals and students the timelessness and eerily accurate predictions of the future in Orwell’s novel. The repetition of the government slogan, the monitoring of the police, the curfew, the altering of facts in the media, etc. are all evident in “V for Vendetta,” similar to the way we see them in 1984. Clearly, the fears of Orwell in 1949 are still scary all these years later.
It’s an amazing movie and, when paired together, only heighten the meaning and the timelessness of Orwell’s classic novel.