In comparison with both novels, 1984 by George Orwell and The Giver by Lois Lowry are two works of dystopian literature that serve the purpose to convey a message to young adult readers. These stories serve both as a warning as well as a lesson to future readers to be self-conscious of the world around them as well as to teach us how we can prevent these problems from happening in real life. They both prove that when given absolute power to the government, both of the authors show only of the horrors/ possible dangers that can come from embracing these forms of totalitarian regimes. In general, they seem to convey the same message, however their portrayal of the future is demonstrated in contrasting ways.
In the novel 1984, George Orwell gives his vision on how he specifically believed the world would be like if the world kept continuing the way they were. The time period for this novel was in 1984, hence the title; however, it was to be described in the future, years after the end of World War II. Orwell wrote 1984 as a warning to the people of modern society of the dangers that could come from embracing dictatorship form of governments that he had actually experienced during his lifetime such as the Nazis from Germany, and the Soviets from Russia. In addition, the story mourns for the loss of personal identity while demonstrating how easy and effective it is to rid of a person of their individuality; particularly through extensive sexual oppression and the prohibition of individual thought as a way to control the inherent tendencies of human nature to their benefit.
Meanwhile, the author of The Giver, Lois Lowry, expressed her ideas for the novel after being sparked by her visits to her father, who was losing his memory due to age. Her novel started as a fun little idea of a made-up world that served the function to explore the idea of what would happen if a society had no memory for anything thus allowing people to start new lives from scratch. As these ideas went on, it evolved into a story in which people traded their memory freely in exchange for a place where they thought it would be safer and happier than the outside world, thus creating the story of the Giver. As she wrote the book, what once seemed to be a utopia, rapidly turns into a dystopian society, with it becoming increasingly clear that the people who gave up their memory and other qualities of life, such as emotion, variety, and color, were making a very regretful decision. Although the citizens in the story were missing out on all negative aspects of life such as pain and sadness as intended, they also ended up missing out on all of the good aspects of life as well such as love and happiness. As a result, because of the removal of the entity negativity, positivity had to be lost as well since one cannot exist without the other, which the Giver states, “We gained control of many things. But we had to let go of others.” (Lowry 25). Thus, without positivity and negativity, life has no meaning in this society, therefore making the lives of the citizens dull and worthless than what it used to be before. Therefore, as you can see George Orwell and Lois Lowry both create literary works of a dystopia, however they seem quite different in both plot and tone. Orwell’s story depicts a tale of a nightmarish future where citizens live in both fear and submission to their all-powerful.
However as one explores into the true meaning and messages behind these books, it becomes apparent that they may be more similar than what was originally thought. Besides including strong feelings of compliance of citizens towards their leaders, and the fact that the functioning of the world must drastically change in order to be more efficient, they both portray the fact that there is always a group or individual that disagrees with use of absolute control and why it’s wrong for nature to be altered by the hands of just anybody other than God, or better yet nature itself for those who don’t believe in religion. This point is very clear with the use of the main protagonist from both authors such as Winston Smith from 1984 and Jonas from the Giver as they prove how wrong the world is at this point in time and why it should be fixed.
In both situations, the people of Winston’s and Jonas’ worlds are assigned “necessary” jobs. They are instructed on when to arrive at these jobs and when to leave them; as well as what to do, and with whom to associate with while completing these tasks. Every second of the day is scheduled, yet this overwhelming control is rarely challenged, either because the people see no need to rebel, or because they know the consequences of doing so. In addition, both societies use cruel punishments as a means of correcting the mistakes or disobediences of their citizens. In the Giver, their punishment occurs under the disguise of a ceremony labeled “release”. In the Ceremony of Release every consequence ends with death. The residents of the society are not aware of this cruel act during the end of the Ceremony of Release, yet they acknowledge the shame associated with releasement. However, in 1984 the government is exceedingly more straightforward and noticeable with their punishments. When a citizen makes a mistake, they either simply disappear for a while and later reappear with a new way of thinking, or are shown publicly announced of their wrongdoings and presently being executed. It is clear that the governments in 1984 and The Giver go about their rulings in contrasting ways, but both seem of one mindset to be in complete control.
Whether by altering the environment or regulating aspects of daily life, both Oceania and Jonas’ society have adapted greatly in order to become as efficient as possible. All members of both societies whether from the Giver or 1984, know only of the life that they are currently living. They know nothing of the past or future, and therefore, have no way of knowing that their lives have been changed to be more efficient as quoted in 1984, “Until they become conscious they will never rebel and until after they have rebelled they cannot be conscious” (Orwell 56). In addition, certain things such as the family, clothing, and language are structures that are strictly chosen by the government and are treated as things that cannot be wasted. In the Giver, the phrase “precision of language” is often used to explain their vocabulary, meaning that only exact and necessary words are to be spoken. 1984 has a matching take on this, as Winston’s colleague, Syme, an employee of the Ministry of Truth, had worked on the new dictionary for Oceania as well as improving the idea on Newspeak. He states, “We’re destroying words- scores of them, hundreds of them, every day. We’re cutting the language down to the bone, don’t you see that the whole aim of Newspeak is to narrow the range of thought? In the end we shall make thoughtcrime literally impossible, because there will be no words in which to express” (Orwell 24). In an ultra-efficient society, even an excess word, it seems, could disrupt the operation of the community.
Furthermore, the Giver and 1984 both prove that there is no place for love in a high-functioning future society, as both primal acts of lust and innocent familial tenderness are prohibited. In Jonas’ community, all teens and adults are administered drugs upon reaching
puberty that aid in halting all lustful urges. It is in this way that citizens do not find issues with excessive bodily contact, or spouses accidently having children that are unassigned. As families are artificially created and people’s urges are reduced by the government, there is little room left for love. Love is such a foreign concept that those living inside Jonas’ community do not understand or even find need for love, since in his society love is a word so generalized and so meaningless that it’s become almost obsolete. As, in Winston’s world, love is strictly enforced, since in Winston’s society families are only made when the governments see the need for it. Instead of focusing on love, Big Brother forces people to focus on fear and hatred. Both Lowry and Orwell paint a picture of what the world would be like without love, and it is certainly not appealing.
In conclusion, 1984 and The Giver prove that in order to live in a world without decisions, one must blindly follow his or her government, relinquish many things for the sake of efficiency, and survive without the one thing that makes a person human: Love. It surely begs the question of whether or not the “easy” way through life is the best way, and if living for only now, as opposed to in the past, is truly beneficial. In order to move forward, one must look to the past, see the mistakes that have been made, and learn from them, not run from them for in the Giver, as the giver tells Jonas, “Mistakes is how wisdom comes and how we shape our future” (Lowry 82). In theory, a world where all people function in unison and under one law seems ideal, but these two iconic books, The Giver and 1984, show that the true price for a completely efficient society is simply too high.
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