1984: Nineteen Eighty-four and People

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Bethany Rubaker
April 30, 2013
Ms. Schulte
Honors English 10, Period 8
Totalitarianism Takes Control
Imagine living in a world where politics are everything and all forms of individuality and personal identities are shattered. A world where everybody is stripped of their rights to talk, act, think, or even form their own opinions, simply because they do not agree with the government’s beliefs. These aspects are just a few of the examples of things dictators would have control over in a totalitarianism form of government. Aggressive leaders such as Hitler and Joseph Stalin are examples of such dictators. They used their power for terror and murder, and their motive is simply to maximize their own personal power. George Orwell had witnessed World War II, the fall of Hitler and Stalin’s dictatorships, and the fatal outcomes that have come from these governments. To warn future generations of the harsh effects of totalitarianism governments, he wrote the book Nineteen Eighty-Four. Published in 1946, Nineteen Eighty-Four describes life in a totalitarianism form of government, following the main character, Winston Smith, as he takes risks in discovering how he believes life should truly be. Literary critic Irving Howe states, “Were it possible, in the world of 1984, to show human character in anything resembling genuine freedom...it would not be the world of 1984” (62). In Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four, the government uses its power to suppress individuality among the people. To begin, the author shows how the government abolishes individuality through the use of mind control. First of all, the creation of Newspeak restricts the individual from saying things that he/she wishes to say. More specifically, the task of the Party’s philologists is to regulate the vocabulary and language of Oceania to ultimately be able to control the actions and behaviors of the people. Literary critic Stephen Ingle argues, “The more vocabulary contracts, the more the Party will be able to control behavior” (124). Since the Party has complete control over how the people can talk and what they are allowed to say, they ultimately have the power to control how they act. Through Newspeak, thoughtcrime will become impossible due to the fact that there will be no terms in which to express it. Furthermore, the Party asserts its control over the mind through doublethink. To begin, doublethink is an example of a thought process in which one simultaneously holds two contradictory beliefs while accepting both of them. For example, while in the Ministry of Love, O’Brien uses doublethink to make Winston believe that he can float. Winston says, “If he thinks he floats off the floor and I simultaneously think I see him do it, then it happens” (Orwell 278). O’Brien cannot float, however through the use of doublethink Winston can say that it does happen. Moreover, the Party also uses thoughtcrime to regulate the people’s thoughts, speech, actions, and feelings towards the government. The Thought Police use psychology and surveillance such as hidden telescreens to discover cases of thoughtcrime and misbehavior. For instance, a telescreen hidden behind a picture on the wall in Winston and Julia’s secret hideout is the reason they are caught in their illegal love affair. Winston describes, “Thoughtcrime does not entail death: Thoughtcrime IS death” (Orwell 27). Winston is saying that death is definite if one thinks badly about the government or disapproves of the government’s actions. Thus, due to telescreens, people are forced to keep an expression of optimism at all times; because any other emotion will be considered treason (Ingle 127). Consequently, individuality among the people is destroyed through mind control.

In addition to mind control, Orwell also illustrates how the government strips the people of their personal identities though their control over reality. To begin, the party uses its power over Oceania’s history to eliminate all records of the...
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