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George Orwell

Dystopian and utopian novel

• Utopian and dystopian novels explore social and political structures of an imaginary world, which is set in the future.
• Utopian novel represents a perfect ideal world: it agrees with the author’s ethos and it is “the best of all possible worlds” (cit. Candide, Voltaire).
• Dystopian novel is the contrary of the utopia novel: it represents a negative immoral tyrannical corrupted world. The author wants to show the “worst world possible” which disagrees with his ethos.
• The utopian and dystopian novels come from a specific social context (19th-20th centuries→the industrial revolution, the first and second W.W, the civil war in Spain, the cold war between USA-Soviet Union), which caused the destruction of the ideals of many people. The failure of the socialist utopia in the Soviet Union and the development of the science and the technology (→ Nuclear War) lead to the birth of a new sense of horror ad fear for the present and the future.

George Orwell (1903-1950)

• He is one of the most important writers of the 20th century: he is famous for his social influence and for his novels, in which he writes about his political ideas and in which he reflects about the society.
• His political ideas are influenced by 3 main factors:
1. His school years→ he empathizes with the poorest social classes
2. His decision to resign from the Imperial Police→ he embraces anarchism and he starts his fight vs. imperialism
3. His experience in Spain during the civil war: he develops socialistic ideals
• He is against: imperialism, dictatorship and authoritarianism → he is a social democratic with leftist sympathies.
Art: for Orwell the art and the writing are instruments to interpret the reality and to achieve democracy and freedom.
→ The writing has a useful social function and through that the writer has the capability to express his ideas and so to be free.
• Orwell fuses political and artistic purposes together and he writes Animal Farm + 1984.
• One of the most important theme is the Theme of the Language: it is an instrument of information + communication. (The quality of the language suggests the quality of the society that used it). →Through the language people can be controlled and manipulated.


The story: The novel describes a future and dystopian world divided in 3 blocks: Oceania, Airstrip One, Eastasia.
Oceania is a regimented and oppressive world ruled by the Party, which is lead by a figure called The Big Brother. The government controls the citizens through cameras, which are everywhere: the government deprives them of any kind of freedom, they have no privacy and they also can’t have their own culture. In fact The Party creates a new language: his objective is to control and also manipulate people: the fact that they cannot have their own culture and they are not allowed to develop personal thoughts shows that the government fears a possible revolution against the system.
The protagonist of the novel is Winston (→ refers to Winston Churchill) Smith (→ the most common surname in England). He is a common man employed at the Ministry of Culture/Truth, who illegally begins to write a diary where he reflects about the society and the political system.
One day he meets Julia, a woman who has a rebellious attitude. They discover a secret movement called “Brotherhood” which is against the government. At the end of the novel, The Party imprisons Winston because suspected of being a subversive, so he is brainwashed by them and return to be completely passive.
• This novel is written in 1949 and shows a possible dystopia world where there is no freedom, no place for individual opinions and personality.
Theme of Language → people are ignorant, they are not allowed to study what for the government is the truth: The Party in fact changes the historical facts, changes the story of the world and controlled people through their incapability to produce personal opinions (they know few words + they are always under control). The Ministry of Culture rewrites books and newspapers to change the past: reducing the number of words, they reduce the expression of thoughts, so we can see a repression.
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