18 January 2013
SLAVERY IS FREEDOM
A Literary Analysis of The Party’s Rule over the People in George Orwell’s 1984
It is a common belief that the true essence of being human is the right to exercise one’s freedom. The ability of being able to choose enables one to define himself how he sees fit; it allows for each person to have their own individuality. On the contrary, there is a subconscious belief that Sigmund Freud noted: “Most people do not really want freedom, because freedom involves responsibility, and most people are frightened of responsibility”. Living during the same period of Joseph Stalin’s Russia in the middle of the twentieth century, George Orwell wrote 1984, an unforgiving imagination of Orwell’s worst fears of losing that freedom. In 1984, Orwell creates a negative utopia where the Oceanic people thrive by having the Party dictate their lives through ways of mind control: mind control by language, mind control by propaganda, and direct control over the mind using “doublethink”. The people are fully submissive to the power of Big Brother and the Party, and as a result, lose their individuality and freedom. One of the Party’s main objectives is to suppress the expressive ability of the population in Oceania. This is done through the use of their own developing language, “Newspeak”. Newspeak is a language derived from “standard English” (termed “Oldspeak” in Newspeak), created to carry out Ingsoc (Newspeak for “English Socialism”), the political ideology of the Party. Syme, a man who is responsible for the development of Newspeak, explains to Winston how Newspeak differentiates from Oldspeak in terms of structure. Syme explains how there is “‘great wastage in the verbs and adjectives’” (Orwell 51) in Oldspeak: ‘Take “good”, for instance. If you have a word like “good”, what need is there for a word like “bad”? “Ungood” will do just as well—better, because it’s an exact opposite, which the other is not. Or again, if you want a stronger version of “good”, what sense is there in having a whole string of vague useless words like “excellent” and “splendid” and all the rest of them? ‘Plusgood’ covers the meaning, or ‘doubleplusgood’ if you want something stronger still. Of course we use those forms already, but in the final version of Newspeak there’ll be nothing else.’ (Orwell 51) By trimming down the number of similar words to just one root word, only different intensities of a subject can be expressed, and the emotion behind the use of a word is suppressed. Syme elaborates by explaining to Winston the true purpose of Newspeak: ‘Don’t you see that the whole aim of Newspeak is to narrow the range of thought? In the end we shall make thoughtcrime literally impossible, because there will be no words in which to express it. Every concept that can ever be needed, will be expressed by exactly one word, with its meaning rigidly defined…’ (Orwell 52) The Party is able to control the masses by preventing any rebellious thoughts, as the words to express them will not exist due to Newspeak. Syme explains further, “‘In fact there will be no thought, as we understand it now. Orthodoxy means not thinking–not needing to think. Orthodoxy is unconsciousness’” (53). The Party aims to turn human beings into automatons by having them service only Big Brother, and “to make all other modes of thought impossible” (Orwell 299) by suppressing their expressive ability. Newspeak is mind control through language, and is an example of the Party’s power as they oppress the population and wipe away their ability to even be able to think for themselves. In Oceania, the Party has complete control over all information. So much so, that the Party can alter what is written about the past, and it is accepted as though the past had never been altered: “Whatever was true now was true from everlasting to everlasting” (Orwell 35). For example, it had been accepted in Oceania that they were in an alliance with Eastasia,...