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George Orwell's '1984' Vs Peter Wier's 'The Truman Show': Comparative Analysis

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Texts motivate the collective to question the realities presented. Orwell's novel ‘1984’ provides a political commentary on the impact of a totalitarian regime. Similarly, Peter Wier's film ‘The Truman Show’ is used to depict the rise of mass surveillance and the paranoia that follows in the post-Cold War period of 1998. Orwell's and Wier's works likewise bring forth concepts that question their context, including those of overall control and the how truth is represented by a higher authority. Both the film and the novel possess the influence to ignite new ideas and to shift the way in which individuals perceive reality.

Context plays an intricate role in the creation of texts. This is particularly evident through ‘1984’. Orwell draws evident comparisons to Stalinist Russia throughout the novel. For example, the Thought Police's persecution of 'thought crime' or 'crime think' directly mirrors Stalin's 1930s purges of opposition. The Thought Police therefore act as an embodiment of Russia's NKVD, or secret police. Similarly, Weir uses ‘The Truman Show’ to explore the ubiquity of surveillance amongst the population in a post-Cold War paranoia context.

The elite rely on the ignorance of the controlled to maintain power. This notion is demonstrated within ‘1984’, specifically when referring to the proles. Unlike the constant surveillance of those within Oceania, the proles are exempt from this scrutiny. The proles are consigned to hard labor and menial distractions for their lives and thus seen as a nameless, mindless mass - unable to threaten the status of the Inner Party. Winston is aware of the power the proles hold over the Inner party as a collective. “If only they could somehow become conscious of their own strength”. By persisting with the role placed on them by the Party, the proles maintain the Party's authority and allow the continuity of the system. “If there was hope, it must lie in the proles”. The power the Inner party holds is therefore reliant on the obliviousness of the proles. Through this, Orwell allows readers to question their position in society, and whether it enables a higher power - specifically directed at the corrupt Soviet Union. The Party maintains the influence to control the proles, however, this allowed by the aforesaid nature.

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Comparably, despite the supremacy that Christoph, the 'creator' of Truman's life, commands over Truman, the show's success always hinges on Truman himself. Truman sanctions the show's prosperity in the same way the proles maintain the party's power, by being authentic. Truman's experience as an individual, unchanged by a collective, forms the basis for the success of the show. The audience follows Truman religiously as he and his world are the embodiment of what the human experience should be. “I have given Truman the chance to lead a normal life. Seahaven is the way the world 'should' be”. Truman's audience is so far detached from human nature, that by viewing a real experience, the desire to reconnect and respond is motivated. “Was nothing real?”. “You were real... that's what makes you so good to watch”. Both Truman and the Proles are uncorrupted by the abuse of power as each are unaware of it. The desire to live as Truman, in ignorance to the issues underlying his life, is what allows for the show's success and for the establishment of Christoph's control.

Truth is a product of representation. In Orwell's world of ‘1984’, there's no such thing as truth, except for that of which the Party presents. “Who controls the past controls the future. Who controls the present controls the past”. Given that the past is used to form a basis moral ground, the party alters history to justify upcoming ambitions. The Party creates a history that was a period of suffering from which they liberated those oppressed, thereby compelling collective labor toward the Party's goals. “The claim of the Party to have improved the conditions of human life has to be accepted, because there did not exist, and never again could exist, any standard against which it could be tested”, this further emphasizes how an individual understanding of the past affects one's attitude about the present. The role of the Party as liberators is only recognized as the truth because it is represented as such. Ultimately, the exposure of a corrupt society allows for the audience to question their own realities.

Weir's ‘The Truman Show’ also embodies this idea. His world is fictional, created solely for the entertainment of the population. Truman's truth is only that which is represented by Christoph. “We accept the reality of the world with which we're presented”, explores how individuals accept the world at its face value, a common human experience. Truman, at first, does not question his reality as artificial. Similarly, the audience accepts the media construct of our own reality. Christoph maintains Truman's belief in his reality by shaping the environment so Truman is constantly fed sensory normality. In the final scene as Truman nears the truth, all symbols associated with positive human experiences are behind Truman. Bright skies and an extensive sea of options represent his falsified reality. However, authenticity and reality are reduced to a cramped, single door of shadow. The opposite of the light at the end of the tunnel the audience associates with finality to ongoing subjugation. Thus, it can be deduced that truth is a product of representation and this disclosure allows the audience to question this idea within their own context.

Overall, both Orwell's' and Weir's works alike ignite new ideas amongst both modern audiences and ones within their own context. Through the challenging of reality and what the audience as responders see as truth, both authors comment on the complexity of human nature by chronicling its trials through the characters of the proles and Winston in ‘1984’ and Truman in ‘The Truman Show’.

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George Orwell’s ‘1984’ Vs Peter Wier’s ‘The Truman Show’: Comparative Analysis. (2023, January 31). Edubirdie. Retrieved March 5, 2024, from
“George Orwell’s ‘1984’ Vs Peter Wier’s ‘The Truman Show’: Comparative Analysis.” Edubirdie, 31 Jan. 2023,
George Orwell’s ‘1984’ Vs Peter Wier’s ‘The Truman Show’: Comparative Analysis. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 5 Mar. 2024].
George Orwell’s ‘1984’ Vs Peter Wier’s ‘The Truman Show’: Comparative Analysis [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2023 Jan 31 [cited 2024 Mar 5]. Available from:
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