Reading Nineteen Eighty-Four at any point over the last two decades incites the reader to seek out Orwell’s vision he held for the future and the features of the narrative that appear to directly relate to 21st century existence. In doing so, many readers feel that they have understood Orwell’s intention and what he sought to project through his text and consider the book as a stark warning to highlight the consequences of totalitarianism. However, considered against Fish’s theory of there being no singular way to interpret a text and applying interpretative decisions to write the narrative as it unfolds, a consideration of what inquiries a reading of Nineteen Eighty-Four generates, particularly in the current climate, would provide the reader with a more authentic idea of Orwell’s purpose. The quest for ‘truth’, for example, as society is inundated with contradictory governmental advice and mass media propaganda and seek to maintain a sense of stability in a chaotic era.
References to Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four have increased significantly during the spring of 2020 as individuals make associations between the restrictions imposed upon them in a bid to control the exposure to the Covid-19 virus and the oppression of Big Brother in Oceania. It is difficult to witness children, who are currently prevented from attending school, poised in front of television screens awaiting PE lesson instructions from fitness guru Joe Wicks without thinking about Winston Smith’s failed attempts to carry out his daily physical jerks. There have been suggestions that Orwell predicted the ongoing global pandemic and potential political and economical implications that may follow. Whilst it is unlikely that Orwell held such abilities, the capability he continues to have, seventy years after his death, is to provide the mechanism with which individuals may challenge the ideology which many people take for granted. Contemporary concerns such as neoliberalism, class and gender imbalance and autocratic leadership echo the post World War ll anxieties apparent in Nineteen Eighty-Four. Utilising Fish’s theory prompts the reader to question why there has been so little progress in rectifying these dilemmas since Orwell wrote his novel and understand how swiftly life as we know it can be inconceivably altered due to bureaucratic decisions.
Song: Where is my Mind?, The Pixies