Manipulations of memory used by Orwell and Williams
The steady development of “Big Brother” as the all-controlling entity in George Orwell’s 1984 is the premise for the role truth plays throughout the novel. Truth is functioned against society for the benefit of the government. Similarly, Tennessee Williams creates a uniquely different environment for his characters in The Glass Menagerie while maintaining the same function of truth as a source of distortion and control. Collectively, the themes of dehumanization in 1984 and distortion of memory in The Glass Menagerie relate to one another regarding the function of truth in each work to substantiate a sense of authority and deception. Oppression in 1984 as a direct instrument of dehumanization is made quite evident within the text. The inner-party uses several brainwashing and torture tactics to rid society of past memories and experiences. The effects these tactics have upon truth are substantial in their regard. The intent of “Big Brother” is to reduce human beings understanding to a more basic, easily manipulated and empty slate where the agendas of the inner-party can be executed with ease. We see the extent to which understanding of the past affects one’s attitude about the present when Winston states, “And when memory failed and written records were falsified—when that happened, the claim of the Party to have improved the conditions of human life had got to be accepted, because there did not exist, and never again could exist, any standard against which it could be tested” (Orwell 93). This quote is said following Winston’s frustrating conversation with the old man about life prior to the Revolution. Winston is coming to terms that the party has deliberately set out to weaken people’s memories in order to render them unable to challenge what the Party claims about the present. If no one remembers life before the Revolution, then no one can say that the Party has failed humanity by forcing people to live...
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