H-205 (TR - 10:30)
12 March 2013
1984 - George Orwell
“BIG BROTHER IS WATCHING YOU”…a futuristic totalitarian-ruled world where everyone is monitored under the watchful-eye of Big Brother, also known as the “Party.” In 1984, a year that may or may not be accurate according to the distorted historical facts, citizens of Oceania, a province of Airstrip One, London, was under a single party rule. Thirty nine year old Winston Smith, a non-conformist, is a member of the Outer Party and employee of the Ministry of Truth. He is frustrated by the government’s control and rebels by committing offenses contradictory to its principles. Headed down a path of self-destruction, Winston is tormented by thought crimes and conflicting emotions toward his forbidden relationship with Julia. In search of the truth, he is taken through stages of paranoia about the past, the present, and his own immortality which ultimately leads to his demise.
The government is made up of four ministries; The Ministry of Truth, the Ministry of Peace, and the Ministry of Plenty, and the Ministry of Love. The ministries are a symbol of a concept called “doublethink” which the government used as a conscious deception tool. Doublethink means to hold two contradictory beliefs and accept both as truth (Orwell 264). The Ministry of Truth, concerned with new, media, entertainment, education, and fine arts actually distorted facts, spread propaganda, distributed pornography, and developed periodicals and books like the Newspeak dictionary. The Ministry of Peace main focus is war that seemingly kept the state in a constant condition of war with an enemy that could not be validated. The Ministry of Plenty dealt with economic affairs and ironically kept the citizens, except for the Inner Party, at the brink of poverty. The Ministry of Love maintained law and order but ironically the worst of them all. Its main role was to seek out and detain law breakers by using means of physical and psychological torture.
At the forefront of doublethink, the “Party” had three main slogans; “WAR IS PEACE, FREEDOM IS SLAVERY, and IGNORANCE IS STRENGTH” (Orwell 91). The “Party” led the people to believe that without war, there is no peace. This constant fear of the unknown and ignorance by the people gave the “Party” the control they desired. Free will or individualism was a threat to the government so they used tactics to limit individuality by creating a new language called Newspeak. The whole idea of Newspeak was reduce the amount of words in order to narrow the range of thought, thus reduce thought crimes. Another idealism was, “Who controls the past, controls the future: who controls the present controls the past” (119). The “Party” systematically altered present and historical documents. This type of mind conditioning would leave one to believe that 2 + 2 = 5 or any other conscious deception tactics that was used.
The “Party’s” quest for power and control over its citizens creates social tension. This is accomplished this by inciting classism, war, oppression, and manipulation of history, information, and language. The institutionalization of a culture based roles separated the population into distinct groups; the High, Middle, and Low represented by the “Outer Party”, “Inner Party”, and the “Proles” (277). In created this seemingly perfect society, the government hung posters with the slogan “Big Brother is Watching You.” Technology played a key role in social conditioning and oppression. Telescreens and microphones were used to spread propaganda and also monitor the actions of its citizens. Anyone caught not abiding by the strict controls were either “fixed” or “reeducated.” The “Party” also instituted the Junior Spies which encouraged children to spy on others including their parents.
Winston acquires a journal to record his thoughts, which is a crime. He seeks refuge at Mr. Charrington’s curio shop and deems it safe for