Orwell depicts a totally oppressive society and plays on his readers' fears of powerlessness and personal and collective experiences of oppression. The novel's social environment draws on Orwell's experiences of wartime London which gives veracity for much of the human suffering that is exposed. His journalistic style is coupled with elements and techniques of 'literary naturalism' to represent a society that has been systematically debased and oppressed and largely made 'mute' and powerless to resist. Even Winston holds little faith that the Proles will rise up and topple the regime.
I have attached a homework preparation task that I would have set for my students if I was fortunate enough to have a class.
Hope you find it useful as it can be easily redone to suit your own purposes.
The dystopic warning embedded within Orwell's novel is borne out by what has become truth in the decades since '1984' was written. Powerplay, diminishing resources and perpetual war or the threat of war have become everyday reality. In this sense, it works well as a Common Module text and should be readily adapted for 'Human Experiences'. Dystopic texts have always been powerful stories of 'what' the future might hold if the warning signs are not heeded. Orwell's writing skills and the genre characteristics of Political Science Fiction are also familiar to most teachers who have previously taught the novel.
What is different is that there is a greater emphasis on the 'how' and the 'why' composers have chosen to represent their ideas in certain ways. The 'what' of a text should not be what teachers are concentrating on and so resources need to give student sufficient knowledge and understanding of the contextual exigency that might have prompted the writing of any of the texts for the Common Module. Time restraints, however demand that teachers recognise what must be covered and that can be achieved through judicious planning.
NESA have no plans to write a Sample Unit Program for '1984' as they have done for 'Billy Elliot', 'The Crucible' or 'GBFWYCF' and now 'Passing the Shallows'. Nor do the related texts cited for those sample units have to be done in extensive detail. They are guidelines only for what teachers might choose to address. Shorter sample texts would work just as well as long as they addressed RUBRIC guidelines for the Common Module. The Sample Programs are guidelines only and give teachers a snapshot of how Human Experiences can be addressed.
Orwell's narrative purpose and writing style will be a major focus of any study and the novel will probably prove very popular as a text selection for Advanced Classes, who will be examining Orwell's essay 'Politics and the English Language' for Adv Module C:'The Craft of Writing'.
It highlights many of the journalistic elements evident in his blunt writing style.
He warns, 'Political language is designed to make lies sound truthful, and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind. One cannot change this in a moment but one can at least change one's own habits.'