Born Eric Blair in India in 1903, Orwell was the son of a colonial official. As a small child, he was taken to England by his mother, and was educated at a preparatory school and then at Eton, still one of the most prestigious schools in England. But he couldn't suffer the lack of privacy, the humiliating punishments and the pressure to conform to the values of the English public school tradition and so he began to develop an independent-minded personality, indifference to accepted values, and professed atheism and socialism. On leaving school he entered into the Indian Imperial Police, in Burma, where he remained some years. In 1927 he decided to leave this country because he wished to "escape from every form of man's dominion over man”. Back in London he started a social experiment, living with the lowest classes in streets and in dangerous conditions, to experience directly poverty and understand this world. After a period in Paris, where he worked as a dishwasher in a hotel, he decided to publish his works with the pseudonym of George Orwell. He chose "George" because it is a very common English name and "Orwell" because it was the name of a river he was fond of. In 1936 he married an Oxford graduate who shared his interests in literature and socialism. In the same year Orwell went to Catalonia with his wife to report on the Spanish Civil War where he knew the ideals of brotherhood and equality. Back in England the Orwells adopted an infant child and called him Richard. But they both had a poor health: George suffered from bronchitis and pneumonia and his wife was to die during an operation. When the Second World War broke out, Orwell moved to London and he joined the BBC, broadcasting cultural and political programmes to India. In 1943 he resigned and became literary editor of “Tribune”, an influential socialist weekly. He also began writing Animal Farm that made Orwell internationally known. Orwell's last book, Nineteen Eighty-Four was his most original novel; it was published in 1949 and soon became a best-seller. Orwell died of tuberculosis the following year.
While the writers of the Twenties had concerned themselves with language and form to express a tragic pessimism, those of the Thirties had valued social content over form, and had often left-wing sympathies. Orwell was moved by the desire to inform, to reveal facts and draw conclusions from them and believed that writing had a useful social function. So his most successful novels express political themes: are committed novels.
"Animal Farm" is an animal fable, that is used to create an allegory of the Russian Revolution. The book is a short narrative set on a farm where a group of oppressed animals, capable of speech and reason and inspired by the teachings of a pig, Old Major (who allegorically stands for the ideologue, a mixture of Marx and Lenin), overcome their cruel master, Mr. Jones, a drunk farmer who doesn't care about his animals and neglects his farm (who represents Czar Nicolas II), and set up a revolutionary government. At first the animals’ life is guided by Seven Commandments based on equality and by the action of one of the pigs, Snowball (who represents Trotsky) which is committed to the literacy of the animals and to the diffusion of the animalism's ideas and, following the doctrines of the ideologue, now dead, invited all the animals to work for the farm produce. There is a period of prosperity, but the pigs, guided by Napoleon (who stands for Stalin), gradually take the power, using also terror and force, and altered them, becoming dictatorial and arrogating to themselves the privileges that previously had humans. For example the Commandment "four legs good, two legs bad" is replaced by "four legs good, two legs better". At the end all the Seven Commandments are abandoned and only one remains: “all animals are equal but some animals are more equal than others”.
The parallels between the plot of the book and the history of the URSS are clear, but "animal farm" cannot be interpreted only as a satire on the Soviet Union. Orwell wanted to satirize on dictatorship in general as the fact he named the ruling pig "Napoleon" shows. The animals are a metaphor for the workers in modern society: like them, they are exploited, no matter who the masters happen to be. The sad conclusion is that the revolution are hopeless and are doomed to fail: it brought only to another form of oppression.
1984: The novel, written in 1948, is a science fiction that describes a future world divided into three blocks: Oceania, in which there is England (called Airstrip One); Eurasia, including Russia and Europe; Eastasia, that is Asia and the Far East.
The oppressive World Oceania is ruled by the Party, named INGSOC, which is guided by an unknown figure called Big Brother and is continuously at war with the other two state, without a real reason, without any goal and without a specific enemy: this constant warfare has the only aim to keep people in an unending state of wants that prevents them from focusing attention on the political reality, causing in them the preoccupation to survive and the need to defend their own country. This isn't the only way to control citizens' mind, but the Party controls every aspect of people's lives. In every room there is a screen that every morning wakes up all men and says them what they had to do. In order to control people's lives, the Party uses some expedients:
• Newspeak, an invented language with a limited number of words that narrow the range of thought, not including, for example, the words love, chocolate, sex, freedom, happiness;
• the Thought Police, who control everything;
• Double-thinks, that is the assertion of two opposing beliefs at the same time, for example, the Party says that 2+2=3 or 5, depending on what it need that the crowd believe;
• Mutability of the Past, that is the alteration of historical records, because the Party wants people to remember what is convenient;
• Slogans (such as "war is peace", "freedom is slavery" or "ignorance is strength")
• Absolute control of the press, communication and propaganda, that the INGSOC uses to adapt to its own purposes even current events: if the Big Brother kills people, the newspapers claim that he saved them.
The protagonist of the novel, Winston Smith, illegally buys a diary in which he begins to Write his thoughts addressing them to the future generations. At the Ministry of Truth, where he works, rewriting historical records, Winston meets an attractive girl Julia and they begin soon a secret affair. One day O’Brien, a member of the powerful Inner Party, summons them to his luxury flat and tells them that he too hates the Party and works against it as a member of the Brotherhood, a mysterious group is trying to overthrow the Party, led by Emmanuel Goldstein: a figure, like the Big Brother, who no one has ever seen, but is probably a creation of the Party used as an outlet for the anger of citizens, in fact, as an enemy of Big Brother, daily is dedicated to him the two minutes of hate, during which his image appears on screens and is insulted by the people. O’Brian gives Winston a copy of Emmanuel Goldstein’s book, but while Winston is reading it to Julia in their room some soldiers break into and arrest them. He is taken to the Ministry of Love, where he finds out that O'Brien is a Party spy. O'Brien is ambiguous and embodies the ideology which at first attracts but later reveals itself (as in Animal Farm, where the animals are first attracted by the new ideas and then disappointed). For months O'Brien tortures and brainwashes Winston, who struggles to resist. At last, he is sent to Room 101, where he became "a bag of filth" and is forced to confront his worst fear: rats. At the end, Winston is released, but he has completely given up his identity and has learned to love Big Brother, also when he meets Julia, remains passionless because he no longer loves her.
While a utopia is an ideal or perfect community, anti-utopias show possible future societies that are anything but ideal and that satirize existing conditions of society. Orwell's novel isn't a prevision, but is a warning: if England follows the example of the other nations and doesn't oppose totalitarianism, its future will be destined to be miserable and oppressive as the situation described in 1984, and there will be no freedom.
Orwell said that "good prose should be like a window pane", should allows the reader to see clearly what the author has in mind, so the language should be simple, direct and plain. Totalitarianism used a vague and indistinct language, it didn't speak clearly and in so doing it is easier to manipulate people mind.