Amusing Ourselves to Death

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George Orwell Character Analysis

The author of 1984, another dystopian novel. Yet Orwell’s dystopia is very different from Huxley’s, and portrays the end of free thought and speech as being the result of strict government repression and violent control. Postman’s book argues that Orwell was wrong: that the things we love are in fact much more dangerous than the things we hate.

George Orwell Quotes in Amusing Ourselves to Death

The Amusing Ourselves to Death quotes below are all either spoken by George Orwell or refer to George Orwell . For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
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). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Penguin Books edition of Amusing Ourselves to Death published in 2005.
Foreward Quotes

This book is about the possibility that Huxley, not Orwell, was right.

Related Characters: Aldous Huxley, George Orwell
Page Number: xx
Explanation and Analysis:

Postman has summarized the plots of two famous dystopian novels: Aldous Huxley's Brave New World and George Orwell's 1984. Both novels depict a totalitarian government which, through carefully constructed technologies of control, have repressed the populations over which they rule such that political dissent is impossible. However, these methods of control differ vastly––in Orwell's novel, surveillance technologies, economic scarcity, and strict censorship mean that there are no opportunities to think, watch, read, or say anything that opposes the hate-filled, ultranationalistic government agenda. Huxley, meanwhile, depicts a society in which citizens have endless opportunity for entertainment, including drugs, travel, sex, or "feelies," a spin off "movies" (which were a fairly new medium in Huxley's time). 

By saying that Huxley "was right," Postman implies that it would be more plausible for a population to be subdued and controlled by entertainment than by severe and direct government oppression. Crucially, he also suggests that Huxley was "right" in the sense that his dystopian vision is close – uncomfortably close – to the reality of 1980s American society. This comparison illustrates Postman's view that television has acclimatized the population to constant, shallow entertainment, and that in so doing has eroded citizen's ability to engage in rational thought and discourse. 

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George Orwell Character Timeline in Amusing Ourselves to Death

The timeline below shows where the character George Orwell appears in Amusing Ourselves to Death. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Foreward
Typography vs. Image Theme Icon
The History of Public Discourse and Media Theme Icon
Progress, Prediction, and the Unforeseen Future Theme Icon
Postman begins his book by summarizing George Orwell’s 1949 dystopian novel 1984, as well as Aldous Huxley’s (also dystopian) 1932 novel Brave New... (full context)
Chapter 1: The Medium is the Metaphor
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The History of Public Discourse and Media Theme Icon
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...determined by the form of the media that presents it. Postman believes that McLuhan, like Orwell and Huxley, “spoke in the tradition of prophecy.” Postman was once a student of McLuhan,... (full context)
Chapter 7: Now…This
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Progress, Prediction, and the Unforeseen Future Theme Icon
“For all his perspicacity, George Orwell would have been stymied by this situation; there is nothing ‘Orwellian’ about it,” Postman says.... (full context)
Chapter 9: Reach Out and Elect Someone
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This is Orwell’s mistake, says Postman: failing to recognize that the government would not be the ones responsible... (full context)
Chapter 11: The Huxleyan Warning
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...by which the spirit of a culture may be shriveled,” Postman says. “In the first—the Orwellian—culture becomes a prison. In the second—the Huxleyan—culture becomes a burlesque.” For Orwell, the danger comes... (full context)