“Who controls the past, controls the future. Who controls the present, Controls the past.”
When I was reading 1984, I had a feeling of reading my diary, or a historical book, or a perdition booklet written by witches. 1984 is written based on political struggles for power. Throughout the history, these struggles have always been a controversial and disputable issue. In George Orwell’s 1984, the theme that a government may use mind controlling and brainwashing to maintain power over the society has been brought out through many symbols, events and ideas. In the year of 1984, the world has been divided into three super powers: Oceania, Eastasia and Eurasia. In the society of Oceania, which is controlled by a totalitarian Party, love, sex, joy, happiness, personal documents, thoughts, etc, are completely forbidden. “The government that Orwell creates is seeking for a limitless power” and uses different ways to control people’s mind and thoughts. The use of language, religion, technology, and education are some of the ways Orwell suggests, with which a government can take over thoughts and minds.
Use of language to control people’s minds and thoughts is one of the ways Orwell suggests and develops the theme through it. Newspeak, as the symbol of limited language, is used by the Party to limit thoughts and minds. Newspeak is a language created by the Party members and its characteristic is that it is created by “destroying the words, hundreds of them.” The point of removing words is obvious in Orwell’s words: “Don’t you see that the whole aim of Newspeak is to narrow the range of thoughts? In the end it will make thoughtcrime impossible, because there will be no words in which to express it.” “In fact there will be no thoughts as we understand it now. Orthodoxy means not thinking. Not needing to think. Orthodoxy is unconsciousness.” Orwell says that the use of language is an efficient way of altering minds and thoughts; because not only it controls thoughts, but also it stops people from thinking. When language is controlled there will be no wants and wills against the party; no wants for freedom “when the concept of freedom has been abolished.” Therefore, the government can easily maintain its power over the population by limiting language. This is the theme that Orwell develops though the symbol of limited language, Newspeak. The whole conversation between party members in the novel occurs by the use of Newspeak and has been repeated from the very beginning of the book to the end. Therefore Orwell develops the theme of mind controlling and brainwashing by repeatedly use of Newspeak, symbol of limited language.
... happen when a society controls language: it, in turn, controls discourse, thought and ultimately reality. Both Orwell and Huxley, through ... rest their stability heavily on control of discourse manipulation of thought through language, Newspeak, Conditioning these dissenting discourses must ... markers for a deeper language / thought interface that signals a complete regulation of the mind. As Mond points ...
Another motif through which Orwell develops the theme is the use of the symbol of religion and the idea of “Sacred leader.” The use of religion and more specifically ‘people’s faith’ to manipulate minds and alter thoughts is a very powerful way with which a government can maintain its power over the society. In 1984, ‘Big Brother’ as the symbol of Party and Sacred leader perfectly shows this point. How Big Brother is introduced to the society and how the idea uses naïve people’s faith to maintain the power are two important points. The first point is how Big Brother is introduced to the mob. Big Brother is always right; he is totally innocent and immaculate (even if the common religion says he is not theoretically immaculate, officially he is acted as an immaculate and sacred person and criticizing and analyzing his actions is totally forbidden and considered as crime); there should be no religion but worshiping of Big Brother and accepting what ever he believes; “he wills that the whole society shall will noting except his will.” That’s how Big Brother is introduced to society and generally how everyone should accept him; but the more important fact is that everyone does accept him in this manner and everyone does love him.
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The second point is how Big Brother can be used for maintaining power. Orwell suggests that using people’s faith and beliefs is the only way that a tyrant leader can be loved by the society. In fact “the tragedy of Orwell is that man – Big Brother – turn himself to God” and then using religion to make people to worship him as the God. Therefore, the idea of sacralizing of the leader comes out. When the leader is sacralized and people are enforced to accept it, by time they will believe it; they will worship for it and they will obey it; it will turn out to be their belief and their religion and they will defend and fight for it; and thus, government can maintain its power over a large group of brainwashed people. It seems not very hard for authority to do that. The Two Minutes Hate, the daily ritual of public worship is one of those ways. People of the society of the Oceania are supposed to go to swear and hate opposition authorities in one minute and worship Big Brother in the other minute. People of Oceania are not forced to go; they are bound to go and this shows how people are brainwashed for Party’s wicked aims. Therefore, Party sacralizes its leader and use people’s faith and religion; ‘The leader’ turns out to be people’s idealistic person and their faith, and Party maintains its power.
This fact causes a group of brainwashed people who do not care why they love their leader; they just love him and defend him, because it’s a part of their religion. Even if they believe their leader’s tyranny, they will still love him, because he is their immaculate leader. What Orwell suggests in 1948 can be easily seen in our today’s world. It is not hard to find countries in the world that use religion to maintain power. Sometimes in our today’s world, governments manipulate people’s mind by religion to extent that people are ready to sacrifice themselves for their religion or for their sacred leader. This case may have a very destructive effect in the world. Orwell however, doesn’t use the religion as it means now, “Orwell may parodying the secular religion of totalitarism. His purpose is satirical. He infuses religion metaphors into a completely secular context to suggest corruption of the system.” Symbols and events that Orwell uses, including Big Brother and The Two Minutes Hate, perfectly develop the theme of brainwashing. These are the two most important motifs that permanently repeated in the novel to show the use of religion for controlling minds and altering thoughts. Therefore, the theme of brainwashing and mind controlling is developed through these motifs.
... And Mrs. Sheridan Learned About Life And People In "The Garden Party" What Laura and Mrs. Sheridan Learned ... About Life and People The Garden Party is a wonderful and enlightening story with ... guests of the party, including her parents, think she is out of her mind for even thinking ... side she added a comment that changed anyone's mind that might have been thinking that. She said, ...
The use of technology to monitor behavior and control thoughts in order to maintain power is another way that a government may use. Orwell develops this point through the symbol of technology, Telescreen and Hidden Microphones. With the use of technology, government can reduce and cease people’s personal activity; by constantly checking what they are doing and controlling how they spend their time. In fact, if religion and language is a good way of brainwashing, technology is a good way of mind controlling. From the very beginning of the novel, Orwell uses telescreen and describes it to develop the theme. Telescreen is an instrument with which police or government can hear any sound that is made where ever there is a telescreen. Moreover, they can see and check places through telescreen. Telescreens are everywhere; in party members’ house, upon their beds, in halls, work places, ministries, bars, houses, streets, salons, etc. There is no possible way of not being heard or seen. Party can check people everywhere; they can see through telescreen and talk to the individuals from the other side and easily check people’s activities and actions. Some of the ways that technology helps the government are: not allowing individuals to keep their records of the past, not permitting them to speak against the party, not allowing them to have a personal relationship and having love for anyone but party, etc.
People also know that if they take any action against party (or it seems they are acting against the Party!) they will be caught and executed; so they would not take any action against the Party. By the symbol of Telescreen, Orwell limits the last hopes for freedom. No one has personal life and therefore, personal freedom. No one would think of freedom. When people do not have freedom for a few generations, the meaning of freedom will automatically disappears and when this happens the government can successfully take over people’s minds and thoughts. By the use of Telescreens and hidden microphones, Orwell creates a limited atmosphere in the book that can be easily felt by the readers. From the beginning of the book to the end, all occurrences happen by the existence of Telescreens and hidden microphones such as: When the setting is first described, ‘vaporization’ of party members, when Winston gets caught, when his personal documents against the Party are found, etc. Orwell not only uses the Telescreen for developing the idea of mind controlling, he also uses it for exploring the theme of brainwashing. He examines this theme by repeating the idea of ‘propaganda’ from the telescreen.
... , Orwell highlighted on some of the fears that many people have for the world that we are creating. The control of the Party ... body and its functions. It also controlled the hum! an mind through physical experiments and the enforcement of complete orthodoxy to ... people into thinking what they wanted. In this way, it controlled the human mind, body, and spirit. The third most memorable point ...
Government uses telescreen to announce the news; but there is no way of finding weather the news are right or wrong. All the news coming from telescreen is announced by loyal inner party members. The subject of all news is: worshiping of Big Brother at the beginning, announcing the improvement of the society in spite of what people feel, announcing the victory of Oceania and failure of the enemies, etc. The significant of this news is that all the people should listen to it. “There is no way of shutting it off” This is another warning by Orwell. He warns us about how some authorities may use ‘Radio’ and ‘Television’ to alter people’s mind and thoughts. Even in our today’s society, where the existence of internet and world-wide-webs make controlling really hard, it’s not hard to see how some governments even control internets and webs for their own power. The authority calls these limits ‘law’ and those who try to get some news or break these limits are called ‘criminal.’ This is exactly what Orwell warns us about; controlling people’s minds by stopping them from knowing the reality. Thus, the theme of mind controlling and brainwashing for maintaining power over the mob has been shown through symbols of technology and developed by repeating them in the novel.
Except these ways that Orwell suggests for his theme, he also develops his theme by the use of education. The use of the education for controlling minds and thoughts is more related to the next generation and Orwell may show that how thirst of power for a government may lead it to plan for a very long period of time. In 1984 ‘Junior Spies’ represent the idea of educating children for Party’s purposes. In Junior Spies Liege children are educated and brainwashed to extent that they can think of nothing else but ‘Party’ and ‘worshiping of Big Brother.’ Junior Spies Liege is a place in which children are brainwashed into being spies of the party and to report any sign or indication of disloyalty. As a matter of fact the use of education is an easy way of taking over minds. Brainwashing of the children is not hard. Children do not know anything about reality; but their minds are prepared to learn and accept what is told as the reality. Since they do not carry any former knowledge, brainwashing them is not a hard deed. When these brainwashed children grow up, there is no need of controlling minds, since all of them are Party’s loyal fans and agents. Orwell in 1984, creates an extreme feeling for educated children in Junior Spies Liege to extent that they may “denounce their innocent parents” to the Party to get the title of “child hero” from the government.
... have friends nowadays, [they have] comrades' (Orwell 43). People are only allowed to have sex for reproduction. The ... are done only as an obligation to the Party. Children are taught at a young age to be ... boiled cabbage and old rag mats' (Orwell 5). The Party takes the pleasure out of everything they ... an all-powerful organization known as the Party. For most people, there is an inadequate supply of ...
Orwell continues his description by explaining the fact that “It’s almost normal for people over thirty to be frightened of their children.” When the government is preferable for the children rather than family, the idea of brainwashing can be obviously seen. The thirst of power can also be felt by this fact, when the Party changes and tries to remove the most important value of the society, family. Orwell’s 1984 is full of examples of people who are brainwashed to work for the party. Winston’s description of his wife when he says “she hated the task, but nothing would make her stop doing that. She used to call it our duty to the party,” obviously shows this fact. In one part of a book Winston thinks why people are repeatedly saying ‘Down with Goldstein,’ why they call him ‘Big Devil’ without knowing what he had done. This is another example that shows children are brainwashed to say it, even if they do not know why they are saying it and what it exactly means. Another example is when Parsons is betrayed as a disloyal member by his daughter: “my little daughter listened to me at the key hold when I was saying ‘down with Big Brother.’ Heard what I was saying, and nipped off to the patrols the very next day. Pretty smart for a nipper of seven, eh? I don’t bear her any grudge for it. In fact I’m proud of her. It shows I brought her up in the right spirit, anyway.” Events of betraying people by Junior Spies permanently recur as a motif in the novel. Thus, Orwell is able to develop the idea of brainwashing and mind controlling through these motifs.
... because in this form of government, all the control and power was with the priests and the people, rich of poor, had no ... , Christianity spread for several reasons. Because God loved people regardless of their place in society. As Christianity gained in strength, eventually, Christians ... they knew and added on to make a very sophisticated society. The Egyptians solved a lot of problems for us. Before ...
All these motifs are some of the ways through which, Orwell develop the theme of 1984. His overall message is how some governments may use brainwashing and mind controlling to maintain power over the society. He examines his theme by explaining how the use of language, religion, technology and education may be used for manipulating minds and altering thoughts. He uses many motifs in his novel to develop his theme. Newspeak as the symbol of limited language is one of these motifs. Big Brother and The Two Minutes Hate are two other important symbols and events which permanently recurred in the novel. Telescreen, Hidden Microphones, Junior Spies Liege, etc, are the other motifs with which Orwell shows the corruption of a system that has thirst of power. In conclusion, it can be said that what Orwell wrote in the past has a very strong connection with our today’s world. What Orwell wrote was a warning, to know how the society would be if a group of people who has thirst of power govern it. It is not hard to see through out the history how some governments from Communists and Socialists to Islamic radicals and extremists are following the same government that Orwell creates in 1984. He basically warns us about the ‘ideology.’ He tells us that whenever a government reaches the power by introducing its idea as ‘right’ and others’ as ‘wrong,’ the society would have the same fate as the society of Oceania in 1984. Orwell again and again warns us, and he does it cleverly and creatively.
“In the end the Party would announce that two and two made five, and you would have to believe it. It was inevitable that they should make that claim sooner or later: the logic of their position demanded it. Not merely the validity of experience, but the very existence of external reality was.”
Gottleib, Erika. “The Demonic World of Oceania: The Mystical Adulation of the ‘Sacred’ Leader.” Harold Bloom, editor. George Orwell’s 1984, Updated Edition. New York: Chelsea house, 2007. 51-69
Orwell, George. Nineteen Eighty-Four. England: Penguin Books Ltd, 1954.
Spender, Stephen. “Evil In Nineteen Eighty-Four.” Harold Bloom, editor. George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four. USA: Chelsea House Publisher, 1996