Following the political chaos and struggle for power after World War 2, George Orwell’s novel 1984 brings attention to the dangers of oppression and shows the nightmarish world of the possible future. The book portrays a totalitarian dystopian world where citizens are restricted from having their own thoughts and are constantly being brainwashed. Citizens serve for the party like miners in a landslide, without any knowledge of the past or freedom. The politicians in 1984 suppress and eliminate their freedom by creating fear through propaganda, strict laws, and incessant surveillance.
In 1984 the government uses fake information to control how citizens think. The Party mostly uses propaganda as their weapon of control. Propaganda increases the citizens’ confidence and makes them think that what the party tells them to do is always right. There are two main types of propaganda; Doublespeak changes the truth, and another creates fear. The party’s popular slogan WAR IS PEACE. FREEDOM IS SLAVERY. IGNORANCE IS STRENGTH. (George Orwell, 4) is a good example of doublespeak. The action-point of the slogan is to persuade citizens into thinking that what they want, is what they already have. Only war can make peace, so peace is no longer peace, it becomes war. Anyone who is enslaved and wants freedom, already has freedom. You can only have strength by not knowing things and being ignorant. The slogan changes the truth and make the citizens think that anything they want, that is not what their government wants, can only make them unhappy, therefore, no one will consider rebelling because they truly believe that the Party’s way of governing is the best and only way.
The laws in the world of 1984 are another tool for politicians to limit citizens freedom. The citizens live a very restricted life with no parties, no dates, no love, and a curfew. Although these laws are strictly applied, they cannot technically be called laws because they are not written in a system. In 1984, there is no such thing as a constitution or court, but that is how fear is created, because citizens are always living in doubt and uncertainty. An example is , And yet it was a fact that if Syme grasped, even for three seconds, the nature of his, Winston’s, secret opinions, he would betray him instantly to the Thought Police (George Orwell, 30). There is not a real law that defines thoughtcrime but Winston could be arrested any time for committing thoughtcrime. Even an almost unnoticeable facial twitch that suggest struggle, could get anyone arrested on the spot. The idea of having no written laws is quite fairly political genius because the Party can adjust the strictness of laws whenever it wants. Citizens will never know if they have committed a crime so fear is created within the population.
Surveillance is virtually everywhere in Oceania but it is mostly used through televisions. There is a two-way screened television in every apartment and street that monitors all of the citizens. The Party gets images of what its people are doing at the exact time that they are doing them. Only senior members of the Inner Party have access to turn them off for short periods of time. Children are also used to watch their parents, The children, on the other hand, were systematically turned against their parents and taught to spy on them and report their deviations (76). This system was used by the communist party of China during the Cultural revolution. With extreme surveillance, citizens have no way to express their negativity towards the Party.
In 1984 Orwell creates a world where language, a word, or a sentence, can determine a person’s life. Through language, strict laws, surveillance, and total government control, the part manages to manipulate its entire population. In Oceania, thoughts are suppressed until they vanish after generations. In this world, not even a bird is free.
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