1984 In-Class Essay
Language is simply thought incarnate. In 1984, a dystopian novel by George Orwell, destruction of language is a strong contributor to the downfall of humanity; it augments the growing power of the totalitarian government through the implementation of Newspeak. Language in 1984 is systematically torn down by the government as a way to limit range of thought, contributing to the theme that society and culture come about as a result of language.
Near the beginning of the novel, Winston holds a conversation with Syme about the Newspeak dictionary Syme is working on. “’Don’t you see that the whole aim of Newspeak is to narrow the range of thought? In the end we shall make thought-crime literally impossible, because there will be no words in which to express it’” (Orwell 52). This passage contributes to the idea that language is thought. As Syme said, committing thoughtcrime, or thinking at all, can only be achieved if there are words to express it. By destroying these words, the government is, in effect, destroying creativity and innovation; this, in turn, leads to the eventual downfall of society and culture. Without society and culture, morality and compassion are left as the last bastions of humanity. Throughout this process, a change in the nature of language is visible; it has become a tool used to restrict thought, instead of an expression of thought. An example that supports this is the man and his secretary talking at a table near Winston. Although he is speaking words, they lack life and thought; his speech has been restricted to praise of Big Brother. This shows that through control of language, control of thought is very possible.
The nonsensical language Newspeak also contributes to the overall meaning of the novel through the elimination of poets, artists, and musicians. Because they thrive on creativity, they are the most affected by the removal of language. As Winston stated, they are the first to go as the government grows...
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