1984 Orwell Essay, Research Paper
George Orwell’s book 1984 has 4 warnings that he states throughout the book. Orwell is afraid of a government getting too powerful and he expresses this fear through Winston. One major warning sign that is prevalent throughout the book is the totalitarian government. A group that runs the government called the Party. This group is all powerful because it is run by a group whose major purpose is to gain and keep power. The Party’s methods are efficient and very harsh. They inflict harsh punishment on anyone who commits an independent act, such as having an affair, and thinking against the normal ways. This government is so powerful that it not only controls the present and everything people do, but they also control the past. Anything that does not comply with what the government wants they just erase from the past. The Party keeps watch over everyone. Each house has at least one telescreen mounted on the wall so the government can keep watch over everyone’s actions. They do this to keep individuals in line. The Party members are not allowed to love or keep a family. The proles, because they are considered to be inferior and stupid, so it is ok for them to think and love and have a family. But they still do not have freedom; the government still keeps track of their actions. “Proles and animals are free.” Since the Proles make up 85% of the population in Oceania, the government had to give them some freedom or they would rebel. This is also why the government’s motto is ignorance is strength. As long as the people do not realize what is going on, then the government will continue to have complete control over them. The head figure of this all-powerful government is Big Brother, which Winston is unsure of his existence. When he asks O’Brian if Big Brother really exists, the response was “You don’t exist.” Orwell by describing this terrible all powerful government that controls, what you eat, where you live, what you do, who you marry, etc. is trying to warn the reader against letting any government get this powerful. He tells the reader this through Winston, “the last (thinking) man in Europe.” Another motto of the Party is War is Peace. To make the people believe this, the government must be in continuous warfare, and this is also to keep the economy strong. Finally the third party slogan is Freedom is Slavery. The government has brainwashed the people by telling them individually they are mortal, they will die and not be remembered. But collectively as a group, they are immortal, therefore much stronger then an individual.
People still die however, and all records of them ever existing are destroyed, in other words vaporized. This leads to another sign Orwell warns his readers about, and that is controlling the past. Consequently this is Winston’s job. The Ministry of Truth has complete control of the past. They erase any record of history that would be dangerous toward their complete control over the people. Revisionism is another term used meaning changing of the past. Winston after having a dream tries to remember his childhood. As he remembers, no one had heard of big brother before the 1960s. But his job is to change history, and new history has been dated back to the 1930s with stories of Big Brother. Orwell again uses Winston to warn the reader not to let a government get too powerful and control the past.
People living in Oceania in 1984 speak a different language then English, they speak newspeak. The government did this in order to have more power over the people. The Party invented this new language so that eventually English will not be used anymore, and then no one would be able to read anything written in English; such as, books, which are completely illegal, or old historical documents not changed. This was created to meat the needs of INGSOC, or English Socialism. When it eventually comes universal, in about 2050, nobody will be able to commit a thought crime because there will be no vocabulary to describe it. Words in newspeak had single meanings, free means without. So the word free did not mean freedom, politically or intellectually this meaning did not exist. Free would be used to describe that the floor is free from dirt. Also, things will never be bad, they will always be “ungood”
The government not only was changing the language, but was also controlling human thought. The government figured the more people thought, the harder it would be to sustain good control, so the Thought Police was invented. While watching Two minutes of hate, Winston unconsciously scribbles “Down with Big Brother” all over his notebook. This is an unforgivable thoughtcrime, and doing this could get him arrested and taken to the Ministry of Love, where he will be tortured, or vaporized. Orwell warns his reader about this overly powerful government. People are petrified over what will happen, even if they just write something. Orwell is warning the reader if he does not watch out, government and technology could take over. Oceania is suffering from war, loss of privacy, ignorance, and no freedom. The government decides everything for them. If they do not comply with government rules, they are arrested and tortured until they believe and comply. This is what happens to Winston in the end of the book. O’Brian beats Winston until he agrees that two plus two equals five. The torture method is similar to teaching a baby not to do things; just their method is ridiculously harsher. When a baby tries to touch the stove, the mom says “no” and eventually the baby will learn not to touch that.
1984 is described as a “negative utopia”. Throughout the book Orwell creates and sustains a mood of despair. Beginning with the first page describing Winston’s apartment sets the gloomy mood of the story. The mood continues as Winston describes his job, and his lifestyle. The employees are forced to watch a telescreen everyday to watch the “Two Minutes of Hate”. Another depressing factor is that people can not love, and sex is not to be used for pleasure. Throughout the book, Orwell explains that there is not much food, and when there is, it is usually disgusting. In the same cafeteria scene, Winston’s neighbor Parsons is collecting money for Hate Week what he can not wait to start decorating for. Getting excited about a holiday called Hate Week is depressing, and wrong. When Winston meets Julia, the reader is almost sure that this is a light in the story, but this meeting of the two star crossed lover’s ends in tragedy. They only can see each other in secret, and eventually a hidden telescreen catches them. Also at the same time, they meet O’Brian. Winston is sure O’Brian is a good friend and thinks O’Brian feels the same way he does about the Big Brother as he does. But of course, keeping with the mood of despair this ends of being false, and O’Brian is part of the Inner party and both Winston and Julia are arrested. They are not just simply carried away, Winston is kicked and Julia is beaten and her face already bruised and askew.
Winston is taken to a cell, which is monitored by four telescreens that scream at him if he even moves the slightest bit. His stomach is empty and he is starving. Soon Parsons is thrown into the cell. He has been arrested for a Thoughtcrime, and was turned in by his daughter. Parsons sits down on the toilet and and leaves behind a disgusting stench. In this scene Orwell goes beyond the mood of despair into gross physical description to make the reader sympathize with Winston. Some of these detailed descriptions include starving men, men being hit, hurling, and men having their fingers broken while being dragged off to room 101.
To save himself from bearing more beatings, Winston confesses to crimes he never committed. O’Brian continues to torture Winston until he admits that two and two make five. Finally after all the beatings are finished, Winston looks at himself in the mirror and sees a bag of bones covered by gray skin and teeth falling out. This description is the climax of despair, and he blames O’Brian for this terrible state. When Winston confesses to O’Brian that he hates Big Brother, he is taken back to room 101 to get his face eaten out by rats. But since Winston hates rats more than anything, he betrays Julia and is now released. This betrayal was what O’Brian was looking for as a desperate cry of help from Winston. Winston had finally given in and said he loved big brother and decided to conform to what the Party wanted. This is a depressing result, instead of dying for what he believed in; he gave into society to save his life.