“It was one of those pictures which are so contrived that the eyes follow you about when you move. BIG BROTHER IS WATCHING YOU, the caption beneath it ran.”
This is one of the first signs that the characters in this novel are told and shown how to feel and operate. It shows the robot like mannerisms of the people living in the airstrip and how they work under the eye of the telescreen. The word contrived suggests that the people of Oceania in the novel have little control over their emotions. The word contrived means deliberately created rather than arising naturally or spontaneously. By taking away one’s ability to recognise natural and spontaneous fate, you are, to some extent, taking away a human’s instincts.
The poster having ‘eyes that follow you’ is significant. The eyes are seen as the most symbolic sensory organ of all. They are seen to represent one’s clairvoyance and are often referred to as ‘the gateway into the soul’. Eyes also demand attention, when you are talking to somebody, it is seen as polite to look them in the eyes. In my opinion, eyes have a level of intimacy about them. This is because they show a lot about how a person is feeling, and they represent how people perceive you. People, without noticing, often act differently when they know they’re being watched. This directly relates to the level of which the people of Oceania may express themselves while having the sensation of the posters around their area watching them.
Most modern people would view their big brothers as somebody who you look up to, someone who is a protector and someone that can give sound advice. By calling this figure in the novel ‘Big Brother’, Orwell creates an illusion that the people of airstrip one have a strong bother figure to aspire towards and look up to. By using Big Brother as somebody who is controlling and constantly watching you, the author has contradicted the stereotypical big brother figure.