Do we want our generation to have no future? Should we really keep ignoring what is going on in politics? Why do we keep focusing on the memes and propaganda around us? The dystopia manifested through the book and how it negatively affected the main character, Winston, shows us a glimpse to our “future”. Throughout the novel, George Orwell demonstrated “Big Brother” as the sole proprietor of power and its citizens as soulless puppets. Big brother controlled their minds, their emotion, their entire life. Orwell used 1984 to warn the modern population about the amount of power given to the government over its citizens and how they can end up controlling everyone.
In the novel 1984, Orwell portrayed many ways the party of Big Brother controlled and manipulated their citizens. The most impactful would be, the use of telescreens. Since the very beginning Orwell introduced them as, “The instrument (the telescreen, it was called) could be dimmed, but there was no way of shutting it off completely” (Orwell 2). The telescreens were everywhere and were always monitoring what the people were doing at any time. Throughout the novel, Winston turned his back to it when he was doing or thinking something against the party. For example, whenever he wrote on his diary, which is prohibited by the party, he would turn his back to it and hide. This portrayed the true purpose of the telescreen, which is to control what the citizens think and do. Since the telescreen were always on, “there was no way of knowing whether you were being watched at any given moment” (3). The ongoing surveillance is what kept the party in power and a complete invasion of privacy. With the fear of always being under observation, no one lives life how it is meant to be. This would be a grave disaster in the modern era.
In addition to the previous point, telescreens were also use as a medium for propaganda. The telescreens were always on and transmitted many ware-fare propagandas. Some of the propaganda were military music and updates on the war with Eurasia and then with Eastasia. Since music or news related to this theme played all the time, the citizens of Oceania became conditioned to believe everything the party said and follow their orders. The two minutes of hate is also a great example of propaganda. While this occurred, people would show, “a desire to kill, to torture, to smash faces in with a sledge hammer” (14). People are so accustomed to this, hat they start to believe that Goldstein is truly the enemy.
Moreover, Orwell used contradicting slogans to represent the party’s philosophy and how it manipulated the population. The three main slogans were, “War is peace, Freedom is slavery, and Ignorance is strength” (4) These slogans are what the party lived by. “War is peace” (4) is manifested through its continuous war and military influence in telling time and the citizens calling each other comrade. The negative impact of the slogan is that it drives the people away from connecting with each other. They could be family, friends, etc. but they maintained the social structure of the party and called each other comrades as if they were strangers. The slogan “Freedom is slavery” (4) was meant as a way to drive fear into the citizens of Oceania. The party represented individual thoughts and feeling as something unfamiliar and dangerous that can control them completely and deprive them of success. The third slogan “Ignorance is strength” is portrayed as a way to maintain order and obedience. The citizens are brainwashed to believe everything and anything the Party says. One great example of this is “the Party would announce that two and two make five” (80).
Furthermore, Orwell emphasized the domination of the party over its citizens through the dress codes. By imposing a dress code on the people, depending on their social status, demonstrates the Party’s control over them. Inner Party members, who were at the very top of the social ladder wore “black overalls” (10). Party members, who are at the middle of the ladder, wear “blue overalls” (2). This power over them is what the Party intended as a way to diminish individuality and expression within the workers. On the other hand, “Proles and animals are free” (72), are allowed to wear what they wish. By portraying the Proles as inferior, the Party gives the other citizens a warning that if they wear what they want, they would in turn become as inferior as the Proles. Although the idea of a dress code seems as insignificant, in reality, it causes everyone to just be the same and follow the same path. Individuality has become a great part of society in the modern world, if we are stripped from that, there would be no motivation to accomplish anything unique or extraordinary.
In conclusion, Orwell’s dystopia was a disaster for humanity in Oceania. This warning is very important for the modern era because if we allow for it to occur, there would be no motivation for life. Orwell pointed out the important things that we have to watch out for from the government. The modern era should be cautious of surveillance and invasion of privacy, uniform for the social statuses, and propaganda that distracts us from the real problems. Orwell was aware of future disasters and the modern era should listen and pay attention to who we allow to make the important decisions for us in the country.
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