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George Orwells dystopian a fictional place where people lead dehumanized and fearful lives vision of the year 1984 as depicted in what many consider to be his greatest novel has entered the collective consciousness of the English-speaking world more completely than perhaps any other political text whether fiction or nonfiction No matter how far our contemporary world may seem from 1984s Oceania any suggestion of government surveillance of its citizens--from the threatened clipper chip which would have allowed government officials to monitor all computer activity to New York Mayor Rudy Giulianis decision to place security cameras in Central Park--produces cries of Big Brother is watching Big Brother the all-seeing manifestation in 1984 of the Partys drive for power for its own sake has come to stand as a warning of the insidious nature of government-centralized power and the way that personal freedoms once encroached upon are easily destroyed altogether Critics generally agree that the hero of the novel Winston Smith may be recognized by his name as related to both the great British statesman and World War II leader Winston Churchill and a non-descript Everyman However the point is not that Winston is a great man or even that he is one man among many rather OBrien while torturing Winston says that if Winston is a man as he claims to think of himself then he is the last man In fact this echo of the novels original title The Last Man in Europe reveals Winston as symbolic of what critic Ian Watt has described as Orwells conception of a dying humanism Whether Winston Smith is truly a humanist in the classical sense of the term is of no matter in comparison to the totalitarian regime which destroys him Winston is in fact the last embodiment of the human In converting Winston to the love of Big Brother the last man in Europe is destroyed Winston maintains throughout the novel two avenues of
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