In the novel 1984, Orwell produced a social critique on totalitarianism and a future dystopia that made the world pause and think about our past, present and future. When reading this novel we all must take the time to think of the possibility that Orwell's world could come to pass. Orwell presents the concepts of power, marginalization, and resistance through physical, psychological, sexual and political control of the people of Oceania. The reader experiences the emotional ride through the eyes of Winston Smith, who was born into the oppressive life under the rule of Ingsoc. Readers are encouraged through Winston to adopt a negative opinion on the idea of communist rule and the inherent dangers of totalitarianism. The psychological manipulation and physical control are explored through Winston's journey, and with Winston's resistance and ultimate downfall, the reader is able to fully appreciate O'Briens reasoning, "Power is not a means, it is an end."
I believe that the oppression of the people in Oceania had to begin at birth because of the ingrained motivations. Winston tries to find someone that will remember the old ways of life before Ingsoc took over the government. My belief in this oppression means children were very important to the government, these children are brainwashed by their educators to believe that Big Brother is number one, and no one else can compare to him. These children are very nasty in their following of Big Brother. This infrastructure encourages the child to seek out enemies of Big brother whilst cementing their position in society, often whilst betraying their own blood; "It was almost normal for people over thirty to be frightened of their own children" (Orwell, 24). The government had no fear of these children because they were raising them exactly the way that they wanted them to be.
The psychological oppression comes from the surveillance used in their everyday lives. The main version of this surveillance is through the telescreen that is stationed in every room constantly watching the people. There is always propaganda across the screen supporting Big Brother and the endeavors of Ingsoc. The telescreen combined with the thought police is the ultimate tool for destroying individual thought, "The smallest thing could give you away. A nervous tic, an unconscious look of anxiety, a habit of muttering to yourself-anything that carried with it the suggestion of abnormality, of having something to hide" (Orwell). This non-stop flow of information stimulates everyone to join in with the demands of Big Brother even when they do not want to. Even the telescreens and Thought Police are not enough because the people are faced with the omnipresent signs reading "BIG BROTHER IS WATCHING YOU," that are constantly scrutinizing them.
Naturally inherent with paradoxes such as "War is Peace," "Freedom is Slavery" and "Ignorance is Strength," this mode of communication encompasses one goal: to erase all ability for original, creative, and therefore possible heretical thought. This step that the party has taken to oppress the people through the devastation of language as the people knows it. The development of Newspeak, although seeming to improve the civilization, depletes thought, creativity, and individualism in its speakers. The language of Oceania is thoroughly phony; it is deliberately designed to conceal reality wherever possible, to distort it (Harris 307). The terms used for everyday objects are ironic and symbolic of manipulation of Big Brother. The word Party suggests the idea of the familiar and fun, even though it is the oppressive government the people now lives with. Victory Gin, Victory Coffee, and Victory Cigarettes are truly low-quality products rather than the frivolities their names represent. The Party uses these terms in an attempt to attract members and distort their thoughts. Even the term Big Brother blurs reality.
Through all of the oppression of the government the older...
Cited: Harris, Harold J. "Orwell 's Essay 's and '1984 '." Twentieth Century Literature 4 (1959): 154-161.
Howe, Irving, and George Orwell. 1984 Revisited Totalitarianism in Our Century. New York: Harper & Row, 1983.
Kornbluth, C. M. "The Failure of the Science Fiction Novel As Social Criticism." The Science Fiction Novel: Imagination and Social Criticism. (1969): 64-101.
Orwell, George. 1984. San Diego: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1984.
Schorer, Mark. "An Indignant and Prophetic Novel." The New York Times Book Review. 12 June (1949) 1,16.
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