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Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell is one of the most outstanding and influential dystopian novels of the 20th century. The action takes place in Oceania – the fictional world suffering from the ongoing war, ubiquitous and omnipotent government controlled by the elite Inner Party, dictatorial political system (English socialism), and absence of all possible freedoms. The country fights for disputed land with the two other superpowers – Eurasia and Eastasia.
The paper at hand is going to investigate how different the novel would have been if the action had been centered in Eastasia instead of Oceania. The major purpose of the essay is to prove that, despite the wide-spread opinion of literary critics that the ideologies presented in the novel are all alike, it is still possible to indicate differences accounting for the importance of the location. The task is complicated by the fact that very few information is provided about fictional Eastasia. It necessitates analytical and creative thinking on behalf of the researcher. The paper explores the differences of political systems, social structure, attitude to freedom, and the place of love in the worldview.
Eastasia in the novel was formed as a result of unification of China, Japan, Taiwan, and Korea. It is known that this area is the smallest and the youngest of the three. However, the author claims that the rapid industrial development of the area coupled with fertility of the nation surely allows Eastasia to compensate for its small size and to be a dangerous competitor. Due to the resources, the new superpower would be able to develop and grow, as well as build strong, lasting relations with Oceania and Eurasia.
If we consider its authority, it is based on the ideology called Obliteration of the Self (or Death Worship), which is not explained in the novel. Supposing that the action took place in Eastasia would mean that the government (being an absolute monarchy) would rather reflect Sharia Law than communism. They would divert to the right side of the political spectrum rather than left. Death Worship does not fit into the modernized world, it reminds of something primitive and mystical. Thus, the authorities would sooner share values of Oriental Despotism than Stalinism. The regime would be totalitarian (similar to that of Oceania), which would ease the relations between the two nations.
It is likely that the existence of the middle-class Outer Party would be impossible as this social stratum is redundant is case of a tyranny presupposing equal oppression of every member of the society. Everyone would lack personal freedom being under constant supervision of the leaders. However, such kind of ideology usually makes the nation more united and the equality creates a more positive outlook on the world (e.g. North Korea). It means that despite the tyranny, the fictional society would be less oppressive and would not revolve around slogans like ‘War is Peace, Freedom is Slavery, Ignorance is Strength’ if the action took place in Eastasia. Besides, the obliteration of individualism promoted in Oceania, would become unnecessary in Eastasia as eastern societies are collectivistic in their nature and initially put their interests lower than the purposes of the community. No one would support the decision to struggle against the regime, and the conflict of the novel would end where it began.
The authorities of Oceania had to invent the artificial, minimalist Newspeak language with the purpose to align all the actions and thoughts of the nation with the basic principles promoted by the Inner Party. The imposed language was capable of eliminating all other patterns of thought (as, according to the Sapir and Whorf’s hypothesis, the way we speak determines the way we think and cognize the world). However, if the action took place in Eastasia, the introduction of the new language would be unnecessary. The Eastern cultures are high-context ones, which implies implicit ways of communication and succinct style that relies heavily on context. Thus, verbal communication would be much less significant and would not have to be controlled.
The only form of love allowed in Oceania is the love to Big Brother, which is instilled by the Ministry of Love through tortures, infliction of misery, and fear. Sexual intercourse is considered necessary as it is the duty of each couple to the Party to have children. This aspect of life would be very similar if the Middle East was located in Eastasia. The attitude of the nation and its unconditional love to the leader would be the same (and, perhaps, much more voluntary than in Oceania). Yet, sexuality would be more restricted because of the values dictated by the culture. The novel indicates that Eastasia is proliferous, which allows to suppose that certain restrictions on the number of children in the family would have to be introduced for ensuring economic well-being of the nation.
The attempted analysis leads to the conclusion that if the Middle East in the novel would have been replaced by Eastasia, it would have brought about inevitable alteration of the plot structure. Despite the seeming similarity of ideological, social, and political systems, minor differences of cultural values and attitudes would obtain greater significance in the overall context.