“the Past Is Forever Present”. How Does the Use of Narrative Techniques in One of the Works You Have Studies Demonstrate Whether or Not This Statement Is Valid?

Topics: Nineteen Eighty-Four, Leon Trotsky, Totalitarianism Pages: 4 (1406 words) Published: August 30, 2012
“The past is forever present”. How does the use of narrative techniques in one of the works you have studies demonstrate whether or not this statement is valid?

In any totalitarian political system, history plays a crucial role in the manipulation and control of the present. The Stalinist regime, satirised in Orwell’s 1984 became adept at altering history to suit the political expedients of the present. Orwell, having Winston narrate the action of the novel through his own experiences, illustrates the manner in which the Party has sought to alter history so as to manipulate the present, giving a sinister ring to the phrase “The past is forever present”. In the novel this is perhaps most clearly illustrated in the character of Emmanuel Goldstein, a somewhat obvious reference to Leon Trotsky, the hero of the Civil War (1919 – 21) who was subsequently vilified by Stalin and eventually murdered by Stalinist agents. The Party in the novel has taken the totalitarian ideal aspired to by Stalin to its logical extreme. In 1984 the communist “utopia” that existed more in the propaganda of Stalin’s marathon political speeches than in the horrors of the Purges and Gulags, is portrayed in Orwell’s bleak images of telescreens, Two Minutes Hate and the insidious intrusion of Newspeak . The method by which The Party maintains control is primarily to control the flow of information and subsequently to mould reactions to that information among Party members: “who controls the past…controls the future: who controls the present, controls the past.” 1984 is essentially didactic in its purpose illustrating Orwell’s pessimistic view of the future of the socialism in which he believed, betrayed as it was by Stalinism.

Winston’s relating of the Two Minutes Hate session illustrates how the past is “in the present “. Emmanuel Goldstein was:

the renegade and backslider who once, long ago (how long ago,, no body quite remembered), had been one of the leading figures of the...
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