Dystopian fiction usually works backward from the present to find an explanation for the fictional society’s decline, and thus to provide a commentary on the reader’s society or a warning of how the future could turn out. In
Dystopian novels explore the effects of oppression and totalitarianism on the individual psyche as well as how the individual functions in a repressive society. Winston’s trouble retrieving and trusting his memories illustrates the way the Party has corrupted his emotional life as well as his daily existence, asking the reader to question the nature of memory and individual consciousness. By suggesting that Winston is initially complacent because he can’t remember whether or not life was better and he was happier before the Revolution, the book examines the importance of memory in creating a sense of self.
In depicting a future civilization that incorporates as-yet-undeveloped technologies and scientific advancements,
Today, many of the developments Orwell predicts are commonplace to readers, such as the helicopters that spy on citizens, which anticipate surveillance drones. In other ways, however, his science fiction vision of the future is inaccurate, in that he failed to anticipate the way people would use technology to record themselves, and willingly share their private lives with the public.
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