Manipulation of Language: Novel ‘1984’

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The slogan “two plus two equals five” is a common phrase used in various systems of media especially in chapter seven of the novel 1984 of George Orwell. The slogan is used in the novel as a false dogma that people might be required to believe. From the novel, we learn that the party is so powerful such that if it says 2+2=5, the citizens believe. People do not perceive the contradictions to be enslavement but let the party tell them what to believe, think, act and value. The party manipulates what people know so that they can control their mind and actions. The situation is evident when Orwell writes that, ‘The masses never revolt of their own accord, and they never revolt because they are oppressed. Indeed, so long as they are not permitted to have standards of comparison, they never even become aware that they are oppressed.’ Therefore, citizens have permitted the government to change ideals whenever they choose, believe the fresh propaganda and repress the previous reality (Yeo 51). Orwell uses the slogan in his book to show the lies and truth, especially in the political world.

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Besides, the slogan has been used by politicians and government leaders to prove and justify their claims. From the novel, Orwell presents a world where systemic thinking, a form of solipsism embodied in O’Brien and symbolized by the Party has permeated and dominated all aspects of people’s living. He writes, “Doublethink means the power of holding two contradictory beliefs in one’s mind simultaneously, and accepting both of them.” (Orwell 47). The quotation emphasizes that the ability of understanding two contradictory viewpoints is good, though Orwell’s doublethink indicates newspeak term for citizens to acknowledge party’s contradiction but being able to recognize what all that means. Orwell is interested in showing that political language can deceive citizens by masking the truth. The ministry of truth can be termed as the department of propaganda as well as a misnomer considering that its actions are contrasting and are responsible for the essential falsification of historical events. Orwell says that “The past was erased, the erasure was forgotten, and the lie became the truth.” (Orwell 40). An example from the novel can be seen when Big Brother makes a prediction which seems wrong and the staffs of the department of truth correcting the recorded articles to make them precise.

Consequently, the phrase where Orwell writes, ‘There were truth and untruth, and if you clung to the truth even against the whole world, you were not mad.’ The phrase is reflective to contemporary issues whereby individuals are driven and follow the majority so that they do not feel like being outcasts. The aim for this is to portray the government in good light and not committing any evil which is more of publicity than real news. Leaders are always trying to manage the truth whereby modern politicians of diverse persuasions are struggling to control the narrative. The quotation ‘War is Peace. Freedom Is Slavery. Ignorance Is Strength.’ (Orwell 4) Is a contradictory which shows the way the government manipulates the truth for its people. The party promotes publicity to peak point in exclusive control not only on what people were saying but also on their thoughts and beliefs. From the novel, we learn that every message is intended to propagate signals which are politically thrilling. Propaganda from the book can be said to essentially and revealingly divide into two forms which are fact and fiction. Orwell writes that ‘The choice for mankind lies between freedom and happiness and for the great bulk of mankind, happiness is better.’ (Orwell 137). Therefore, the government achieves its ideas by publicizing and propagating false facts to the people. Consequently, he explains that publicity is politically used to manipulate or deceive citizens hence, resulting in a community where citizens mindlessly accept every propaganda as reality and unquestionably obey the government.

Besides, language is used in spreading false information indicating that there is nothing right or wrong but only the alternative facts. For instance the phrase, ‘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 mind and if the mind itself is controllable, what then?’ (Orwell Pg84). Therefore, language is perceived as a tool controlling the mind whose vital goal is the annihilation of imagination or will. Besides, the media is a powerful manipulation tool because of public trust and individuals are widely exposed to broadcasts. From the novel, we can see that the party’s interest is to mask the truth through the use of media in manipulating language and presenting a distorted reality.  Nowadays people have failed to notice that they are allowing themselves to be enslaved. For instance, government leaders change reality with fake news and false facts as well as giving lip service to our disbelief and anger though we allow them to remain in office. Citizens are just letting leaders or those in power to define their reality by accepting propaganda. Therefore, citizens are reversing their states to the similar publicity war of 1984. The only way people can find true peace, strength, and freedom is by refusing blind acceptance of whatever they are told which aims at keeping things non-confrontational and straightforward. 

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