"Appearances Can Be Deceptive but Necessary" - 1984 & Dead Poet's Society

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The idea that appearances can be deceptive but necessary is reflected in 20th century context. George Orwell’s novel, ‘1984’ and the film, ‘Dead Poet’s Society’, directed by Peter Weir (1989), reveal that society was fearful of rising ideologies after the bomb. The two texts highlight that while propaganda and conformity are societal issues, it is necessary to be critical of totalitarianism, tradition and allow appearances to be deceptive.

Appearances can be deceptive when influenced by propaganda; however, they are necessary when truth threatens to undermine the stability of authority. Orwell's criticism of totalitarian ideologies that emerged after WWII was reflected in the dystopian society of ‘1984’. The deceptive appearance of a state in control was underpinned by the use of propaganda as a social tool for control. The setting of “Victory Mansions” emits a facade of luxury and surfeited wealth. The nomenclature is ironic to the actuality of “coarse soap and blunt razors and the cold of winter”. Similarly, in ‘Dead Poet’s Society’, the deceptive appearance of the setting, punned as “Hell-ton”, is necessary to contradict its reality. Propaganda existed in 1949, as new ideologies rose and governments felt it necessary to conjure deceiving appearances of opposing totalitarian regimes. The Party’s slogan, “War is peace/Freedom is slavery/Ignorance is strength” is comprised of paradoxes to deceivingly brainwash Oceania’s perception of reality. It is necessary for them to distort the appearance of what is right to gain total control. This reality control manifests in society through the act of “doublethink”, obligatory for the success of totalitarianism. Orwell plays on the contextual fear of nuclear weaponry following the aftermath of WWII. Appropriated from strategic bomber airplanes, “rocket bombs” exploded everyday under the guise of enemy attack. It is implied that the reason for the constant bombing could be “to keep people frightened”. This deception...
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