Essay on The Power of George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four

Essay on The Power of George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four

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The Power of George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four


While schoolteachers assign George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four presumably to give us an impression of what life would be like under a totalitarian form of government, one which exercises absolute control over all aspects of life, the effort backfires: the disturbing premise for which Nineteen Eighty-Four stands is that human beings are capable of brainwashing. The government body in the society of Nineteen Eighty-Four, known simply as The Party, controls the people of Oceania prominently through control of the history and language of the people. "Reality exists in the mind and nowhere else," says O'Brien, the lead antagonist in the novel. By controlling these two of the leading factors of reality and relentlessly forcing them upon society from all angles, the people fall into line like sheep. Those that do not are perpetrators of the most feared crime of all, which is punished most severely, thoughtcrime. Thoughtcrime constitutes of almost any act of individuality: thinking freely, showing affection, even so much as reacting in a way that is not normal with the rest of one's peers. By the end of the book, one has realized the futility in attempting to resist such a power. "Amongst the most terrifying books" ever written, organized lying has replaced objective truth to create a society just realistic enough that it strikes a unique fear into readers, calmed only by the realization that such a society is impossible... or is it?

Orwell's most inventive and most powerful instrument in Nineteen Eighty-Four is the use of language. Not only do his explicitly graphic detail and violent words place the reader into Winston Smith's shoes, but also the ingenious creation of a languag...


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...one of two things: absolute devotion through its control or absolute rebellion in refusing to be controlled. The object is to establish a society of apathetic people who serve without question, without thought. To achieve such a society, the Party must assume full control of words spoken, emotions felt, jobs worked, paths taken, itches scratched, or any other imaginable circumstance. The Party must be in every way involved, and in every way in control. By giving the Party this power, George Orwell has perfectly exemplified everything he wishes to never see in government: complete and utter control over subjects rendered useless by the powers they indirectly left for the taking.

1. By "citizens" I mean Party members. Those that are outside the Party, the proles, are thought to be mindless, and therefore pose no threat to Ingsoc, and are not considered "citizens."

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