George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four is more than a work of fiction. It is a dire warning. Explore the means by which Orwell reaches through the decades and grabs us by the neck. What is he trying to tell us?

The aspect that i intend to explore through my study of “1984” and the relevance it has with todays society is the totalitarian government and its control through fear in our modern era.

Key moments for this include:

  • Within “1984” Big Brother (the governing body within airstrip one) is everywhere. On posters and walls as well as nearly every aspect of daily life, Big Brother controls what you do, think, eat and even feel. Big Brother controls everything – information, the past, the present and inevitably both physical and psychological needs. He is a friend and the enemy of your enemy. He will protect you and save you as he wishes. Within the book, Totalitarianism is big brother and vice versa. Examples can be seen everywhere throughout the text.
  • items including psychological manipulation whereby the party barrages its subjects with psychological stimuli designed to overwhelm the mind’s capacity for independent thought. The giant telescreen in every citizen’s room blasts a constant stream of propaganda designed to make the failures and shortcomings of the Party appear to be triumphant success. The telescreens also monitor behaviors; everywhere they go, citizens are continuously reminded, especially by means of the omnipresent signs reading “BIG BROTHER IS WATCHING YOU,” that the authorities are scrutinising them.
  • The Party undermines family structure by inducting children into an organisation called the Junior Spies, which brainwashes and encourages them to spy on their parents and report any instance of disloyalty to the Party.
  • The Party also forces individuals to suppress their personal desires, treating sex and forms of emotional contact as merely a procreative duty whose end is the creation of new Party members. An example within the text is Julia, Winston’s lover ironically enlisted within the Junior Anti-sex League. The Party then channels people’s pent-up frustration and emotion into intense, ferocious displays of hatred against the Party’s political enemies. Many of these enemies have been invented by the Party exclusively for this purpose.

2 Comments

  1. Could you please provide quotes about this original hypothesis. Totalitarian state, control through fear etc.

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  2. Any sound that Winston made, above the level of a very low whisper, would be picked up by it; moreover, so long as he remained within the field of vision which the metal plaque commanded, he could be seen as well as heard. There was of course no way of knowing whether you were being watched at any given moment. How often, or on what system, the Thought Police plugged in on any individual wire was guesswork. It was even conceivable that they watched everybody all the time.

    Winston kept his back turned to the telescreen. It was safer; though, as he well knew, even a back can be revealing

    The Ministry of Truth contained, it was said, three thousand rooms above ground level, and corresponding ramifications below. Scattered about London there were just three other buildings of similar appearance and size. So completely did they dwarf the surrounding architecture that from the roof of Victory Mansions you could see all four of them simultaneously. They were the homes of the four ministries between which the entire apparatus of government was divided: the Ministry of Truth, which concerned itself with news, entertainment, education, and the fine arts; the Ministry of Peace, which concerned itself with war; the Ministry of Love, which maintained law and order; and the Ministry of Plenty, which was responsible for economic affairs.

    He had set his features into the expression of quiet optimism which it was advisable to wear when facing the telescreen.

    He had committed—would still have committed, even if he had never set pen to paper—the essential crime that contained all others in itself. Thoughtcrime, they called it. Thoughtcrime was not a thing that could be concealed forever. You might dodge successfully for a while, even for years, but sooner or later they were bound to get you.

    The sacred principles of Ingsoc. Newspeak, doublethink, the mutability of the past.

    To know and not to know, to be conscious of complete truthfulness while telling carefully constructed lies, to hold simultaneously two opinions which canceled out, knowing them to be contradictory and believing in both of them, to use logic against logic, to repudiate morality while laying claim to it, to believe that democracy was impossible and that the Party was the guardian of democracy, to forget whatever it was necessary to forget, then to draw it back into memory again at the moment when it was needed, and then promptly to forget it again, and above all, to apply the same process to the process itself—that was the ultimate subtlety: consciously to induce unconsciousness, and then, once again, to become unconscious of the act of hypnosis you had just performed. Even to understand the word “doublethink” involved the use of doublethink.

    The great purges involving thousands of people, with public trials of traitors and thought-criminals who made abject confession of their crimes and were afterwards executed, were special showpieces not occurring oftener than once in a couple of years.

    The aim of the Party was not merely to prevent men and women from forming loyalties which it might not be able to control. Its real, undeclared purpose was to remove all pleasure from the sexual act.

    All children were to be begotten by artificial insemination (artsem, it was called in Newspeak) and brought up in public institutions.

    Desire was thoughtcrime

    In the end the Party would announce that two and two made five, and you would have to believe it. It was inevitable that they should make that claim sooner or later: the logic of their position demanded it. Not merely the validity of experience, but the very existence of external reality was tacitly denied by their philosophy. The heresy of heresies was common sense. And what was terrifying was not that they would kill you for thinking otherwise, but that they might be right. For, after all, how do we know that two and two make four? Or that the force of gravity works? Or that the past is unchangeable? If both the past and the external world exist only in the mind, and if the mind itself is controllable—what then?

    When once you had succumbed to thoughtcrime it was certain that by a given date you would be dead.

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