An Analysis in Summary of the Political Structure Portrayed in George Orwell’s 1984

1984 is a political commentary written by George Orwell warning society of the dangers of both losing sight of truth and blindly following political doctrine. If you are a high school student, a dystopian enthusiast, or simply interested in political literature, it is likely that you will encounter this work at some point in your literary career. Although the themes conveyed by the novel are strong and often repetitively hit home by Orwell, it is undeniable that the novel is full of complicated historical background and political nuance which may not be apparent to the reader on their first, or even their second time reading it.

One of the sections of the book in which this idea is apparent is in Part 2, in which Winston reads excerpts from the book of Emmanuel Goldstein, which summarizes the complex world order which has lent itself to the rise of IngSoc. For the reader who may be confused about what this excerpt means and implies, I have compiled a simple overview of what the three principles of IngSoc really mean (be warned, minor spoilers follow!)

WAR IS PEACE
“In ​1984, war is perpetual because it is impossible to win, but necessary for the world economy and for the permanence of governing principles around the globe. War causes a ​constant drain of supplies​ which could be used for the betterment of life on Earth, which would inevitably result in an unstable society in which ​no wealth distinction would exist​, and therefore, ​no power.”

  • All powers ​are aware that it is impossible​ to conquer the other two superstates
  • All fighting occurs around the equator, over ​labor power
  • All superstates follow variations of the same doctrine, therefore ​no ideological differences actually exist
  • Human ​curiosity is harnessed​ solely in the search for new weapons
  • There are ​no undesirable or desirable consequences​ for losses or gains

FREEDOM IS SLAVERY

“Throughout history, all governments have risen and fallen because the middle class overthrew the upper class- that is- before the rise of 20th century ideologies like IngSoc, which were centered around power as opposed to human instinct and thus cannot ever fall.”

  • No threat from without​- none of the superstates can be conquered
  • The masses never revolt because they are ​always prodded to do so​ by the middle class
  • The middle class cannot rise to power because ​unorthodoxy results in immediate death
  • The party will never lose motivation to rule because ​it is an organization​, not hereditary

IGNORANCE IS STRENGTH

“Because every member of the historically volatile middle class is brainwashed into following party doctrine, doublethink is not just a principle, it is literally a way of thought ingrained into the minds of every party official- low and high ranking alike.”

  • Officials simultaneously ​know that the war cannot​ end for the stability of the world while consciously ​striving to defeat the other superstates
  • In order to survive, a Party member must ​automatically know​ a “true belief” and a “desirable emotion” for every situation

Of course, this is just a summary analysis of the major points directly conveyed within Goldstein’s text- there is deeper metaphorical meaning which can be inferred from analysis of Orwell’s historical context, other works, and even through drawing connections between the three principles! Feel free to comment further interpretations below if you have anything to add- and remember, Big Brother is always watching.

-Mirabella S.

Every Falling Star: the True Story of How I Escaped North Korea by Sungju Lee and Susan McClelland

In utopian societies, life is perfect.  To young Sungju Lee, this was North Korea.  His father, an army general, was his greatest hero.  Someday, Sungju would fight in the North Korean army to beat the nasty Americans and cruel South Koreans.  In fact, when he was little, he and his father used to play a game with his father teaching young Sungju the ways of war.  North Korea would always win, for in Sungju’s mind, it was the best country in the world!  One of the strategies he used was a series of stones.  If a hideout was overtaken or deemed unsafe for the soldiers to return to, stones would be placed in front.  Little did Sungju know, this strategy would save his life.

One day, Sungju came home from school to find his parents packing up their things.  Sungju wondered if they were going to vacation to the ocean like he wanted.  But, instead they were going to the country.  Sungju then asked about where his dog would go while the Lees were on vacation.  His mother shamed him for asking, and Sungju felt bad.  He needed to be a good son so he could be in the regime and in the ranks of North Korea’s Eternal Leader, Kim II-sung.  As time passed and despite his complaints, Sungju would never return to Pyongyang.

Throughout the author’s heartbreaking story, I kept trying to push him forward.  I thought of the song “When You Believe” sung by Whitney Houston and Mariah Carey.  The lyrics speak of hope, and it was this hope which I was trying to infuse in Lee.  He endured many hardships at the tender age of 11 and suffered for five years before finally escaping the torment of his country.  Compared to other books highlighting political struggles and the impact on its citizens, this was one of the most compelling stories.  Unlike Chinese Cinderella, a deeply saddening story of a disowned little girl, everybody around Sungju loved him.  They were trying their hardest to make ends meet, but to say more would take away from Sungju’s story.

On a scale of 1 to10, Every Falling Star definitely deserves a 9 for its well-written passages and amazingly illustrated emotion.  Because Lee was not a native English speaker, when he came to the United States, he received help from Susan McClelland to lay out his story.  After finishing the book, I read an excerpt from him, saying that many of the characters’ (family members and brothers) names were changed because they were still living in North Korea.  This was done to protect them.  Please check out this book and be drawn into an intriguing story of overcoming life’s worst obstacles.

-Maya S.

Every Falling Star by Sungju Lee is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library