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March 1, 2019 Health

The novel ‘1984’, George Orwell’s nightmarish vision of totalitarianism published after the Second World War, was his last book, influenced by his declining health and political disillusionment with the labourite government which had come to power, being elected by a large majority in the 1945 general election, but which was away from his own ideas and visions of socialism. Published in 1949, the book was a meditation on the destiny of tyranny in the future.
The novel describes a Great Britain after a hypothetical nuclear war between East and West which would have taken place in the 1950s, where a totalitarian regime was built, inspired by what was once Stalinism and by certain elements of Nazism. Freedom of expression as such no longer exists. All thoughts are thoroughly supervised, and immense posters that storm the streets tell everyone that ‘Big Brother is watching you’.
Orwell’s exploration of the mechanisms of institutional power inevitably carries one to Michel Foucault’s work on the subject. “Two ways of exercising power over men, of controlling their relations, of separating out their dangerous mixtures. The plague stricken town, traversed throughout with hierarchy, surveillance, observation, writing; the town immobilized by the functioning of an extensive power that bears in a distinct way over all individual bodies-this is the utopia of the perfectly governed city” (Foucault, 6). Extracted from the Essay Panopticism written by Michel Foucault, the quote describes perfectly how the citizens of Big Brother’s Oceania were controlled in George Orwell’s 1984. Foucault describes Big Brother’s government system as being a “Utopia”. As noted by Foucault, this Utopia relies upon more than one method of control, but the far most significant method is the surveillance. “The telescreen received and transmits simultaneously. Any sound that Winston made, about the level of a very low whisper, would be picked up by it; moreover, as long he remained within the field of vision which the metal plaque was commanded, he could be seen as well as heard” (Orwell, 6). The surveillance and the Utopian Society were the main ideas of Foucault’s article. He emphasizes the importance of every individual to be watched, thinking that this is the way a perfect society would involve. Throughout the whole article, he talks about control, power, watched actions of individual and a perfect society.


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