Of course, I could never do a series on apocalyptic literature and leave out George Orwell's 1984. I've placed him third in my list because he published it after both Huxley and Rand, in 1949. Yet over the course of time, Orwell's novel has arguably become the most recognizable and celebrated piece of apocalyptic literature in the canon. The term "Big Brother" has seeped into popular culture and is referenced all the time, and the novel has even produced a term just for George: "Orwellian."
For now, I want to focus on the role of language in this totalitarian society. One of the most powerful ways the government controls its citizens is by controlling the information they receive. Winston's job, in fact, is to rewrite records and change history so that people don't know about the former way of life. Orwell created a language called "Newspeak," in which grammar and vocabulary are simplified and stunted. He was so thorough in this invention that he even attached an entire appendix to explain it in depth. In the story, Orwell indicates that when verbal creativity is taken away from people, they lose the ability to express themselves and thus to even think for themselves. Big Brother has compelled people to accept terms of "doublethink," in which two contradictory words are combined and expected to be equally accepted as true, such as blackwhite. Eventually, people become so accepting of blaring contradictions that they accept the government's slogans of "War is Peace," "Freedom is Slavery," and "Ignorance is Strength."
As a great lover of language and literature, I passionately believe that our access to language affects every aspect of our lives. I've heard people try to dismiss the liberal arts as impractical components of society, but the formation of language and the ability to express oneself is absolutely critical to individuals. This is how we come to understand our identities and position ourselves in society. If it is controlled or restricted, we - as Orwell indicates - are lost. In fact, the language becomes so embedded within the people that they have succumbed to it in their thoughts, which infects them at the core. And in Orwell's dystopian novel, it is nearly impossible to regain personal strength when confronted with this level of total control and oppression.
There's a reason 1984 is so widely esteemed in apocalyptic literature: it's fantastic. There really is much more to say about it, and I encourage you all to read it if you have not done so yet.