Since the onset of the United States, Americans have always viewed the future in two ways; one, as the perfect society with a perfect government, or two, as a communistic hell where free will no longer exists and no one is happy. The novel 1984 by George Orwell is a combination of both theories. On the "bad" side, a communist state exists which is enforced with surveillance technology and loyal patriots. On the "good" side, however, everyone in the society who was born after the hostile takeover, which converted the once democratic government into a communist government, isn't angry about their life, nor do they wish to change any aspect of their life. For the few infidels who exist, it is a maddening existence, of constant work and brainwashing. George Orwell's novel was definitely different from the actual 1984, but how different were they? They were different in 3 ways: government, society, and thought.
1984 starts out with a so called "traitor to the party," Winston Smith, walking through the streets nervously observing the video cameras that are watching his every move. He makes his way into his apartment and produces a journal from his coat pocket. He thinks that even this simple act of attempting to keep track of time and history could get him vaporized. This scene portrays the strong grip the government has on its patrons. A person either obeys them, or is killed, or put into a forced labor camp. After Winston starts an illegal affair with a younger woman he gets careless and "the party" finds out that he has committed what they call "thought crimes". A thought crime is the intent to do something illegal but not actually doing it. In Winston's world a thought crime is just as severe as a physical crime. They arrest him and his girlfriend and torture them until they realize what they did was wrong and that they love "the party" and will never do anything to hurt it again.
The two governmental systems were different in a very major way. The actual government of England in 1984 was a democracy. This democracy's foundation was made up of a parliament and a prime minister. Most other nations of the time had the same set up. In Orwell's novel an oligarchic state existed. Airstrip One, which is the area we call England, was home to Winston and the central government of Oceania (a large nation consisting of North America, England, South Africa, and Australia). This central government had 4 sections. The "Ministry of Peace," the "Ministry of Love," the "Ministry of Truth," and the "Ministry of Plenty." Winston works in the "Ministry of Truth." The names of the ministries are misleading. They are opposites of what they appear to be. The "Ministry of Peace" declares war and tends to other such activities. The "Ministry of Love" is mainly a true description, but it does not promote love for people it promotes love for the "Party." It does this through torture and brainwashing. The "Ministry if Truth" changes the history of Oceania and as a result lies to the people. The "Ministry of Plenty" actually takes away from the "Party" and enforces harsh rations.
The common society structure in democratic governments in the actual 1984 was founded by 3 classes: upper (rich), middle (working), and lower (poor). All three classes, according to the nation's laws, are equal even though they in actuality aren't. This perhaps is a major flaw in what seams to be a perfect system. Even though there are large loopholes in the treatment of the various classes each class has a large amount of free will. The society of George Orwell's 1984 was consisted of three classes. The "Inner Party" was the top of the government which consists of the political officials who also happen to be the only group who "had a life". Meaning that they had some free will, such as turning of the surveillance cameras that were supervising them, and the ability to boss people around. The "Party" is the next class under the "Inner Party". They consisted of 19% of the population. They lead a monotonous life that consisted of the following cycle: work, discipline, "loving the party" and work discipline. Winston's daily activities were: waking up, morning exercise, breakfast (made up of bad coffee and cereal), work, the "two minutes hate," work, lunch, work, a small amount of leisure time, and sleep. His job, basically, is to change history. He gets information from periodicals and such, that the government wants him to change, and fixes it. Sometimes, he would get a task as difficult as changing 40 years of history in a matter of 2 weeks. The "two minutes hate" is two minutes, obviously, in which the whole Party meets in a room (not all in the same room) and display their hate to Goldstein (a past "Inner Party" who supposedly started an "anti-party" organization called the "Brotherhood") member who's likeness was displayed on a "telescreen" at the front of the assembly hall. The lowest class was the "proles," or commoners. They made up 81% of Oceania's population and had a large amount of freedom because the "Party believes that the proles are uncivilized and "should be free as animals are free" (np). "Proles" led a meager of work and cheap entertainment. They ran shops such as: pawn shops, open air markets, bars, and "knickknack" stores. For fun they would go to bars and try to win the lottery. They possessed little technology and were often scapegoats. Perhaps, the most intriguing thing was that there were no telescreens in the areas that the "proles" inhabited. Their lives were comparable to that of those lived in poorer districts of first world countries.
The way of thinking in the actual 1984 was different from the way people in the book thought. The general opinion of people in the year 1984 was that communism was one of the worst things possible. Millions of people would be more than willing to give up their lives to preserve their democracy. People also felt that no one had the right to read their thoughts. They would be especially upset if the government read their mind to prove a theory that they were thinking against the government, and then be brought to court over it. In the novel communism was the system of government used by the people and you could be killed for mentally conspiring against the government. The kicker was that nobody born after the switch to communism cares that they have no free will, nobody alive anyway. If you didn't like the government the you just committed a "thought crime." Like I stated earlier, a "thought crime" is the intent to do something without actually doing it. In Oceania a "thought crime" is just as bad as a physical crime.
The penalty for such an offense is that you are taken to the "Ministry of Love", but not killed. You are now brainwashed until you love the "Party." O'brien, an inner party member, justifies this by stating that all great nations of the past fell because they killed all people who didn't like them. The "Party" will never fall because they don't create martyrs. All people they eliminate love the "Party" when they are finally killed. For example: Winston is captured and brought to the "Ministry of Love," he then is brainwashed and released to society when he truly liked the "Party." Once he lived in the community for a while longer he is shot in the back of the head.
The trains of thought, government, and society of the year 1984 versus George Orwell's 1984 are clearly different. After looking at the differences I stated, the reason why most people who have read the book feel sorry for Winston should be more apparent than ever. The creation of books with story lines like 1984 help to shape our opinions of how the world should be, and make our views stronger than they have ever been.