Symbolism In 1984 By George Orwell

Decent Essays

The lyrics of Radiohead’s 2003 single, “2+2=5” refer to both 1984 by George Orwell and the administration of President George W. Bush. In the three distinct sections of the song, we hear about a character who chooses to live in ignorance, then becomes aware of the evils of his society. In the final segment of the song, the character struggles after learning about the truth, much like Winston Smith did in Orwell’s novel. The music was written and released during the presidency of George W. Bush, whose public reputation had shifted from negative to positive in the years following his controversial election in 2000. The songwriters suggest that, just as citizens of Oceania were trained to forget about history in order to maintain their …show more content…

The song’s character is just a member of the majority, even if the songwriters condemn his way of thinking. The criticism of the average citizen becomes much clearer during the second section of the song. Immediately after the end of the second verse, the meter of the song shifts from the unconventional 7/8 time to 4/4, common time, adding an eighth note to each measure. By doing this, Radiohead are implying that the ideas stated earlier omit significant details in order to appear logical, and that these new thoughts will be based off of the complete truth. A new speaker prefaces the second segment by warning that “there is no way out,” implying that what the listener is about to hear will not be forgotten. Then, he repeatedly speaks the line, “you have not been paying attention.” This is precisely the case with the first speaker and many citizens of Oceania; they ignore reality in order to match what they perceive the world to be. When a character in 1984 disappears, it only takes a couple of days before he is retconned from history: “Syme had vanished. A morning came, and he was missing from work: a few thoughtless people commented on his absence. On the next day nobody mentioned him” (171). The reason that

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