George Orwell was bornJune 25, 1903, to the name Eric Arthur Blair. Orwell was born in Bengal,India however, a year after he was born his family, besides his father, movedto Henley-on-Thames, England. Orwell went to a school on the Sussexcoast and graduated with two scholarships to Winchester and Eton. Orwellpursued an education at Eton College where he learned writing techniques.He also developed socialist ideas and political views, which would laterinfluence his writing. However, writing was not considered an acceptablecareer.
Orwell graduated with a degree in the police force. For five yearsOrwell was an assistant superintendent of the police. In1929, Orwell abandoned his name and career and published his firstbook, Down and Out in Paris and London, in 1933. Followingthis came Burmese Days in 1934, A Clergyman’sDaughter in 1935, and many others including his two most famousbooks, Animal Farm in 1945 and 1984 publishedin 1949. All of Orwell’swork’s we’re influenced by his own life and experiences such as, World War two,his socialist ideas and his political views as well. Orwell continuedto write until he died of tuberculosis in 1950 at a hospital in London,England.
Inthe novel, the citizens of Oceania are subjected to different mind controltechniques created by the party. In 1984, there are different layers tothe party’s psychological manipulation. On the surface lays hate week, thetelescreens, and threatening posters such as, “Big Brother iswatching you” (Orwell 4). The tele screens are located in everyindividual’s room. They are designed to monitor behavior and scare theindividual into submission.
They become a part of every individual’s dailyroutine such as, morning stretches “6079 Smith W! Yes, you! Bend lower,please! That’s better comrade” (42). The thought police monitor thetele screens and watch for any emotion or though crime. Hate week is amajor event for the citizens of Oceania. During hate week the citizens come togetherto create hate posters and slogans aimed at either the opposing country Oceaniais at war with or Emmanuel Goldstein.
Some events that occur are publichangings to which, have become a form of entertainment for thechildren. The party also created what is known as the Junior Spies. Thisbrainwashes children from a young age to spy on their own parents and turn themin to the thought police. Parsons two children are apart of the juniorspies league and in the end even outed their father, “She listened at thekeyhole. Heard what I was saying, and nipped off to the patrols the verynext day. Pretty smart for a nipper of seven, eh?” (268). Parsons mind hasbeen extremely infiltrated by the party that he is proud of his daughterfor turning him in.
The psychological manipulation of the citizens goes deeperthen what may appear. Everything they know is a lie given to them by the partyand created by the middle class. Thistheme expands from psychological manipulation and representsthe deepest layer to their mind control. The party controls everysource of information given to the public.
It is the middle classesjob to change the information of the past to suit what the party wouldlike to portray. Winston’s job is to take information given to him and alter itto fit the party’s wishes then burn the original. By manipulating the present,the party is able to control the past and by doing so gives them the rightjustification to their actions to which, the citizens of Oceania are unable toprotest against. They are unable to keep any documents, such as photographsor legal papers. Do to this they are unable to think for themselves andcan only agree to what the party tells them. Oceania has three classes,party, middle class and the proles. “The proles are the only wayof over throwing the party” (80). Unlike Winston the proles are able to befree and act as they please.
They are able to show sexuality and are evenallowed to commit crimes because “nothing was illegal, since there were nolonger any laws” (9). The only thing the party needed from the proles wasprimitive patriotism. They believed everything given to them because they hadno evidence to prove otherwise. This theme continued throughout the novel andbecame Winston’s downfall. After being placed under arrest Winston wasabused physically, mentally and emotionally. They manipulated his mind andreadjusted his way of thinking to the point where he became an emptyshell.
O’Brian would fill it in with lies such as, “2+2=5″(334). Languageis the center of this novel to which, every other theme revolves around.Newspeak is the official language of Oceania to which, every individualuse as their primary way to communicate, either through speech orwriting.
Newspeak’s sole purpose is to minimize language to the point wherepeople are unable to say what they want to say. It takes away the ability forthose individuals to express themselves. Winston’s friend, Syme, works on theeleventh edition of the newspeak dictionary. They are “…
destroyingwords-scores of them, hundreds of them, every day. They are cutting thelanguage down to the bone. The Eleventh Edition won’t contain a single wordthat will become obsolete before the year 2050″ (59).
This isexactly what the party wants to happen. They want the citizens to not even havethe words to protest against them. The parties main focus is to have a societythat obeys and follows the rules set by the party. The individuals in thesociety are stripped of their rights of free speech, expression, individuality,and freedom itself. The use of ones own language is embedded into theirculture. When someone changes the structure of that language it removes theindividualism of the society as a whole.
The individuals of Oceania are unableto go against what the party has created. They do not have any evidence ofchange and are limited to the vocabulary made for them. With all thesefactors in play, the possibility of escaping or even changing Oceania isimpossible. However, through the organization of the brotherhood change couldbe a possible outcome. Who Controls the past controls thefuture. Who controls the present controls past. (Orwell 40)This quotation directly connects withtwo of the most crucially important themes in the novel.
The theme ofcontrolling the past history of the society is evident from this quotation. Theparty is in control of the present and is able to change the past and bydoing so imprisons the individuals of Oceania. Thus the psychologicalmanipulation becomes present. The party manipulated the past to the point wherethe residents are unable to believe their own memories and have to except whatthe party puts forth as the truth.
This quotation only appears twice in thenovel however; it holds a significant amount of importance. Through two linesit is able to present the truth behind the parties ways and how deep theremanipulation runs. War is peace. Freedom is slavery.
Ignorance is strength. (Orwell 19)This quotation is the party’s mainmessage they spread across Oceania. This slogan is seen countless of timesthroughout the book.
Each individual part of the slogan has another meaningbehind it that keeps the party in power. ‘War is peace’ is used to keep thepeople united against an enemy that does not exist due to the amount oftimes the party changes the enemy. “.
.. We were not at war with Eastasiaat all. We were in alliance with them. The war was against Eurasia.
“(282). ‘ Freedom is slavery’ relates to the fact that the party is strikingfear into the individuals of the society that if you stand alone you will fail.Finally ‘ ignorance is strength’ drives in the final stack that since thesociety is being deeply manipulated by their own government that, it makesit easier to keep them under control. 2 + 2 = 5 (Orwell 334)This quotation relates strongly with thetheme of psychological manipulation. It signifies that even the smallest detailcan be changed and manipulated. It is seen throughout the book but comes moreinto play during the final chapters.
Winston is trying to latch on to any pieceof historical proof beside his own memory. When simply math informationsuddenly gets change it can turn one against themselves, rejecting the correctanswer. It is a small quotation but powerful. In this futuristic dystopiansociety Orwell created, evil will always succeed.
Despite Winston knowingthe true answer to the question, he says what they want to hear. After one istortured to limits where it is impossible to come back from, Winston gives in. Resultingin Winston becoming just another sheep of the suffocating society.
We are the dead. Our only true life is inthe future. (Orwell 203 -204)This quotation is depressing to believeand think about, if one lived in this type of society, but also at the sametime necessary to understand. The proles are the sheep in this novel. Theyfollow, say, and do what the party wants from them throughout the novel. Theawoken ones who understand this are either apart of the party or like Winston.Taken from Winston’s perspective it would be difficult to live in asociety where one is fighting, not for their own lives, but for the lives ofthe future generations.
It would be difficult to grasp the concept that yourown life cannot be saved and that in the end everybody is already dead.Education of past history is crucial to learn and understand.A society must learn from their mistakes to be able to have abrighter future.
Down with Big Brother (Orwell 21)This quotation is one of the mostimportant to understand within the novel. This one line can get an individualeither killed or wiped from the society. This would be a troubling thoughtfor any individual living in the society that talk in their sleep. Parsons owndown fall was this very incident and with the manipulation of young minds, hisown children told the thought police of his so called crime. Just thinkingabout the downfall of Big Brother is the biggest crime in this society onecould commit. These four words are the beginning of Winston’s troublingjourney into discovering the true meaning behind the ways of the society andhow ones own life can be as insignificant as ants. To be able to completely understand themeaning behind the novel and why things happen in particular fashion, thereader must know the concept of a dystopian society. Dystopian is a termdefined as a world where the negative and evil presents always come out on top.
This was the futuristic society Orwell envisioned upon Great Britain. Duringthe writing of the novel World War two was taking place. His society wascreated from his knowledge of the war going on around him.
It symbolizes thatduring war one cannot understand anything that is going on outside of ones owncountry. In those times all one could do was listen and follow the instructionsof the individual in the position of power. The society would put their trustand faith into this individual in hopes of leading the society into a betterway of life.
This is what Orwell captured in his novel. However, this dystopiansociety does not want the best for the citizens but instead wants complete andutter obedience. Orwell’s society is modelled fromreal world events and locations.
Orwell’s world is composed of three mainpowers known as Oceania, Eurasia, and Eastasia. The society is known as airstripone located in Oceania however; we know it as Great Britain. This world is atwar, or so we believe, on a larger scale however, the novel focuses in on oneman changing life.
Winston the main character in the novel and is like anyother citizen in Oceania. But in the beginning of the novel he can be seenhaving his doubts about the leadership of the country and what is happeningoutside the walls. Throughout the novel the war happening with Oceania isconstantly doubted. The party changes who the opposing nation is every fewyears, given the similarities between the names of the three powers thecitizens are too far gone to even notice. However, Winston constantly dropshints about his theory as to why the country is in fact not at war but Oceaniais bombing their own country to keep the people controlled. George Orwell’s main viewpoint wascentered on the political aspects of the society he was living in. He composesthis society in attempt to wake the nation of negative political power holders.
Orwell created a futuristic dystopian society to scare the nation intounderstanding the dangers behind political influences. As also discussed in hisAnimal Farm piece. Where instead of a farm he takes control of a biggerchallenge by tackling society as a whole. In the past, events such asWorld War two took place, which influenced Orwell’s writing to a great extent.Orwell was present during the Spanish Civil War in 1936 and also waspresent to the rise of destructive political leaders such as, Stalin and Hitler.After personal witnessing the after affects of war and the damages itcaused the people, Orwell took it upon himself to try to open the eyes of thepeople to see the manipulation of the Government. “Every line of seriouswork that I have written since 1936 has been written, directly or indirectly, against totalitarianismand for democratic socialism, as I understand it” (WhyI Write). Due to his belief and understanding of the issues involvingpolitics, Orwell was determined to turn Political writing into art.
1984 is aperfect example of his success in doing so. Orwell’s books are directly for thepeople to gain knowledge and understanding, Orwell states, ” I writeit because there is some lie that I want to expose, some fact to which I wantto draw attention, and my initial concern is to get a hearing” (WhyI Write). The main characters in the novels areeach on their own isolated journey to discovery. Winston and Dunstanboth have been affected by the war. Winston, being a citizen, witnessing thehome effect of the devastation it is causing upon the society and Dunstan, asolider, witnessing the front line affect and trauma it can cause anindividual. Political aspects also present their self in both novels.
Winstonis being consumed into his own mind because of the manipulation the Government.Whereas, in Fifth Business Boy is running to become a political leading. Basedon Boy’s past it is evident what type of leading he would havebecome. These novels have a strong theme ofpolitical influences in the lives of the main characters in the novels. Macbethis second in line to the throne and has to deal with the passing of his fathercaused by his uncle’s hands. Deception and manipulation play a key part inHamlets life. In order to get the king to confess to the murder Hamlet mustmanipulate the whole kingdom in thinking he has gone mad. Winston on the otherhand, is being manipulated by the very Government sworn to protect theircitizens.
1984, in a way, was even influenced by Hamlet “Winston woke upwith the word ‘Shakespeare’ on his lips” (36). In both novels there is no purpose.Estragon and Vladimir throughout the novel do not possess a purpose in theirlives but instead are waiting for Godot to give them one. This is identical ToWinston’s own life. The proles are waiting for the Government to give them a purposein life. “We are the dead.
Our only true life is in thefuture” (Orwell 203 -204). Both novels capture the idea ofexistentialism in their own unique ways. Nonetheless, both present the ideathat to exist without purpose is meaningless and that both of the maincharacters need this purpose in order to continue living.