How Can 1984 Be Read and Interpreted Differently?

Category: 1984, Totalitarianism
Last Updated: 24 Mar 2020
Pages: 3 Views: 417

How can a text be read and interpreted differently by two different readers? 1984 by George Orwell (1949) is a political novel written with the purpose of warning readers of the dangers of totalitarian government. The book can be read and interpreted very differently by two different readers, especially when they were born in a different time. In this essay the viewpoint of two Western readers, one from 1950 and the other from 2012 will be compared to look at the possible difference they could experience in interpreting the story.

First of all, the fear of being watched and controlled is more recognizable for a reader in 1950. During World War II, the media was controlled by the Nazi’s. Radio’s for example, only transmitted positive news for Germany. In order to ensure nobody secretly listened to something else, houses were checked regularly. That was not only to see if people listened to an illegal radio-channel but also to see if they were hiding Jews. When they were founded guilty, they were send to a concentration camp immediately. In the book this is compared with Thought Crime and the Ministry of Love.

P 21: theyll shoot me in the back of the neck i dont care down with big brother they always should you in the back of the neck i dont care down with big brother This is a quote from Winstons’ diary. Even writing something in his own private diary, in his own house is a crime since he didn’t obey Big Brother, the Party’s leader. The fact that he scribbled it down so quickly and full of mistakes shows the fear being caught and watched. Second of all, the concern of totalitarian governments was more relevant immediately after World War II.

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The reader in 1950 could easily recognize the similarities between the totalitarian government of Hitler and the totalitarian government described in 1984. Before World War II Germany was in an economic downturn. Hitler was a magnificent speaker who offered a reason for this occurring; he blamed the Jews. No one wants to hear that the problem with their country are their own so the German accepted this as an answer. In Oceana the same happened: P 13: “The hate had started. As usual, the face of Emmanuel Goldstein, the enemy of the people, had flashed onto the screen. The leaders of The Party use the same way to gain power as Hitler did, so readers from 1950 are likely to . For readers in 1950 this is all fresh and easily recognizable and therefore more relevant than for readers from 2012. Lastly, the fear of being spied on and eavesdropped by telescreens and secret microphones was more realistic to a reader from 1950. That is because around 1950 more and more people started to own a television and therefore it became a real possibility that everybody’s house would have a telescreen one day. Nowadays this fear has become a reality, only in a different way.

The government is able to control and check a lot of things through cameras and social media and there is little privacy. But to a reader from 2012 this is not strange or frightening, it is absolutely normal. For this reason you could say the actual fear is not realistic because a reader from 2012 doesn’t have to fear it anymore. To conclude, the fear a reader could experience while reading the book in 1950 is more realistic, more relevant and easier recognizable than the fear possibly experienced by a reader in 2012. Therefore, 1984 can be read and interpreted differently by two different readers who were born in a different time.

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How Can 1984 Be Read and Interpreted Differently?. (2017, Jan 30). Retrieved from

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