George Orwell’s Picture of Society

George Orwell, is a novelist, who is famous for his novel Nineteen Eighty-four. The novel 1984 is about a dystopian society that tells the story of Winston Smith and how is tries to rebel against the totalitarian state in which he lives. A dystopian novel is a society that is as dehumanizing and is uncomfortable to all that live in it.

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Orwell wrote 1984 to warn society about what would happen if we accept totalitarian governments into society. In comparison to the soviet union the book 1984 mimicked some ideas from Joseph stalin such as: torture, censorship and propaganda, a big political figure, Vaporizing or killing, and the secret police.

Joseph Stalin started a campaign called the Great Purge or as some like to call it The Great Terror. This campaigns main motive was to all members of the communist party. More than millions were sent to labor camps and thousands were killed. During the great purge the began a thing called the moscow trials. The moscow trails were where those who were accused do being a traitor and spies were forced into confessing after being tortured and interrogated. Stalin’s terror and torture ultimately made everyone bow down to him.

Similarly in 1984 acts of terror and torture were used to run Big Brothers dictatorship. The use of torture is direct parallel to the soviet union because In 1984 winston cried out to O’brien. “”Do anything to me!” he yelled. “You’ve been starving me for weeks. Finish it off and let me die. Shoot me. Hang me. Sentence me to twenty-five years. Is there somebody else you want me to give away? Just say who it is and I’ll tell you anything you want. I don’t care who it is or what you do to them.””(pg 236-237). While in the interrogation room winston stated that “…there were five or six men in black uniforms at him simultaneously.

Sometimes it was fists, sometimes it was truncheons, sometimes it was steel rods, and sometimes it was boots….There were other times when he started out with the resolve of confessing nothing, when every word had to be forced out of him between gasps of pain”(pg 240). In the soviet union the torture they went through were called , “The trials, which became known as the Moscow Trials, were clearly staged events. The accused admitted to being traitors and spies. Later, historians learned that the defendants agreed to these forced confessions only after being interrogated, threatened and tortured.”( Also,“Stalin’s acts of terror and torture broke the Soviet people’s spirits and effectively eliminated certain groups of citizens, such as intellectuals and artists. His reign as dictator also made his people completely dependent on the state.”(

In the book winston, “ did not know whether the thing was really happening, or whether the effect was electrically produced, but his body was being wrenched out of shape, the joints were being slow torn apart… he set his teeth and breathed hard through his nose, trying to keep silent.. “ you are afraid” said O’brien… “that in any moment something is going to break”( pg 245). In the book the ministry of love was a building where people got tortured until they believed in big brother. It enforces loyalty to Big Brother through fear. Similar to the Soviet Union they they were tortured and brought to their lowest until they couldn’t helped themselves and they were helpless. The torture influenced anyone who went through it to do anything.

In the Soviet Union Joseph Stalin used censorship and propaganda to keep control of his citizens. To make sure revolts didn’t happen “Stalin made sure that his regime was not criticised by having his close friends run the press.” also, “ he had history books rewritten to put him in favourable light ….He even had himself credited as the brains behind the reform of Russia’s economic condition during Lenin’s rule.”(sahistory). Because Stalin had control over the books and textbooks it gave him control over the youth. Later youth groups started popping up that train children in socialism and they were lead to believe that stalin is god like. In the soviet union,stalin used the cult of personality, As a way to hold Stalin to a higher pedestal than god. He wanted to make sure that anyone who doubted him was killed. He didn’t erase people’s memory He rewrote history in his favor.

The use of censorship and propaganda is a direct parallel to 1984 because in the book Winston said “if all records told the same tale then the lie passed into history and became truth. “Who controls the past,” ran the Party slogan, “controls the future: who controls the present controls the past.” …..Whatever was true now was true from everlasting to everlasting. ….All that was needed was an unending series of victories over your own memory. “Reality control,” they called it: in Newspeak, “doublethink.” (1.3.18). Winstons jobs consisted of “ continuous alteration ….. to every kind of literature or documentation which might conceivably hold any political or ideological significance.” (1.4.8).

In soviet union and INGSOC use censorship and propaganda in different ways to come out with the same result. In 1984, the work Winston does is to make the Party’s seem eternal and inevitable, by erasing any evidence of mistakes, poor decisions, and opportunities for the Party’s actions to be criticized. Because of that it confuses the citizens and to make them doubt their own memory. Also, the Party also disrupts personal loyalties to anything other than the party.

The downfall of being a dictator is not knowing who is following the rules at all times without having an inside man or group. Stalin ruled by terror and with a totalitarian grip in order to eliminate anyone who might oppose him. He expanded the powers of the secret police, encouraged citizens to spy on one another and had millions of people killed or sent to the Gulag system of forced labor camps.

Joseph Stalin was notorious for seeking out people who opposed him and killing them. “In 1934, it became known as the People’s Commissariat for Internal Affairs, which in Russian is abbreviated to NKVD. The main purpose of the NKVD was national security, and they made sure their presence was well known. People were arrested and sent to work camps for the most mundane things. Individuals would report on their friends and neighbors because they feared that the NKVD would come for them if they did not report suspicious activity.” (crime museum). “Stalin ruled by terror and with a totalitarian grip in order to eliminate anyone who might oppose him. He expanded the powers of the secret police, encouraged citizens to spy on one another and had millions of people killed or sent to the Gulag system of forced labor camps.” (

Similarly in 1984 Big brother knew he couldn’t control everything and so he rallied up two groups. One was the “thought Police. In the book Winston says that “The thought police would get him just the same. He had committed–would have committed, even if he had never set pen to paper–the essential crime that contained all others in itself. Thoughtcrime, they called it. Thoughtcrime was not a thing that could be concealed forever. You might dodge successfully for a while, even for years, but sooner or later they were bound to get you.” [Book 1, Chapter 1]

A big political figure is important in this type of society because it gives the rest of the society something to believe. In 1984 “Just like a tyrant, a despot, a god, or a dictator, big brother demands complete obedience to his rules and laws” (enotes).The black mustachioed face gazed down from every commanding corner. There was one on the house-front immediately opposite. BIG BROTHER IS WATCHING YOU, the caption said, while the dark eyes looked deep into Winston’s own. Down at street level another poster, torn at one corner, flapped fitfully in the wind, alternately covering and uncovering the single word INGSOC. (1.1.4).

In 1984 big brother wanted their only to be love in his people’s hearts for only him so he outlawed sexual intercourse and relationships because that showed that you love someone other than him. While big brother was never an actual figure it meant something, Big brother is used “when you talk about dictators and their authoritarian governments, or to describe abusive intrusions of more democratic governments into their citizens’ privacy.”(vocabulary). The basic meaning of big brother is a dictator. In the soviet union Joseph Stalin was a modern day big brother. “Joseph Stalin (1878-1953) was the dictator of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) from 1929 to 1953. Under Stalin, the Soviet Union was transformed from a peasant society into an industrial and military superpower. However, he ruled by terror, and millions of his own citizens died during his brutal reign..” (History). Joseph Stalin ruled over his people by putting fear in their hearts. So that if they’ll never disobey him so he would have a problem with revolts .By having a powerful political figure your showing that their power is unmovable and can’t be terminated. They are viewed as all knowing and if you don’t follow them then you’re wrong and get punished.

Both big brother and Stalin made others disappear or vaporized according to George Orwell for disobeying the political figure. “Stalin had eliminated all likely potential opposition to his leadership by late 1934 and was the unchallenged leader of both party and state. Nevertheless, he proceeded to purge the party rank and file and to terrorize the entire country with widespread arrests and executions. Stalin ruled as absolute dictator of the Soviet Union throughout World War II and until his death in March 1953.”(loc).

One of the things Stalin did was “Not only in such things as the faked public trials, the disappearance of leading figures, of writers, of physicists, even of astronomers, but in the invention of a factually non-existent society”.(Guardian). Stalin made sure he made others that wanted to run against him “disappear” by killing them to make sure he stayed in power. To further prevent revolts he killed off those he denied that he was god by having purges to put fear in anyone who thought about disobeying him. In 1984 the act of making someone “disappear” was called vaporizing winston said that “People simply disappeared, always during the night. Your name was removed from the registers, every record of everything you had ever done was wiped out, your one-time existence was denied and then forgotten. You were abolished, annihilated:vaporized was the usual word”(Chapter 1).

He also said that “The diary would be reduced to ashes and himself to vapour. Only the Thought Police would read what he had written, before they wiped it out of existence and out of memory. How could you make appeal to the future when not a trace of you, not even an anonymous word scribbled on a piece of paper, could physically survive?” [Book 1, Chapter 2]. Big brother ultimately made others disappear before they could uncover any secrets that could destroy the party. When you were vaporized people remember you but that delete evidence that you were evening living, so when the the new generation came you wouldn’t even be remember. This was one of big brother tactics to insure absolute control.

Orwell wrote 1984 to show us that society like what he wrote already has happened and can happen again. He compared The Soviet Union and the book 1984 through five comparisons: torture, censorship and propaganda, a big political figure, Vaporizing or killing , and the secret police. While there are other comparisons such as superstates and the party they represent there are other dystopian society that have already happened such as hitler. He used the Joseph Stalin’s rule over russia to show the comparisons of things that can happen if we don’t heed his warning.

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