The role of a government is to keepsociety under control. The complete control of that society, however, can onlybe achieved through manipulation and regulation of actions, thoughts andemotions of a society. 1984 is adystopian novel that was written by George Orwell in 1949, portraying hisvisions on what the future will look like. It is a book about the dangers of atotalitarian society and the effect it has on certain individuals. Winston, theprotagonist of the novel, has been watched over by Big Brother for seven yearsand was made to believe that there may be freedom in his future, only later tobe captured and physically tortured by the Party, for the sole purpose ofproving that people can be broken and molded into the “perfect” citizen ofOceania (Orwell 320). Thisessay will explore and examine the physiological aspects of a person’slife that are controlled by the Party. These aspects are surrounded by thecentral idea that order to completely gain total control of people, restrictionof their actions is simply not enough. The Party’s regulation of humanphysiological processes and emotions is what Orwell proves to be necessary toachieve successful authority over a society.
It isevident that the human desire to express themselves through art, writing,music, and even sex is natural and extremely hard to supress, which is exactlythe aim of the Party. According to Judith E. Glaser, neuroscience is teachingsociety that ‘self-expression’ might be one – if not the most important ways for people toconnect, navigate and grow with each other (Self-Expression).
Moreover, sex isa fundamental part of people’s lives and it is what makes us human. Itsubstantiates, humanizes and incarnates existence along with its supply of joy,love, comfort and affection, further enforcing its importance (The Psychologyof Sexuality). Artistic expression as well as other expressive arts therapiescan be a corridor for transforming feelings and perceptions into new lifestories and, as a result, creating a new sense of self, proving to have ahealthy output on people’s lives (Expressive Art Therapies and PosttraumaticGrowth). In 1984, Orwell hasportrayed Winston’s efforts to try and withstand the Party’s influence throughhis ability to defiantly proceed to write in his journal, which “was notillegal…but if detected it was reasonably certain that it would be punished bydeath” (Orwell 9). However, “his memory was not satisfactorily under control.”(Orwell 44) Subsequently, when it comes to gaining complete controlover a society the Party starts with the regulation of the basic physicalaspects of one’s life. Sex is a human desire that the Party, with all itsefforts, tries to demean to being simply an act for the government to keepprocreation.
“The Party’s real, undeclared purpose was to remove all pleasurefrom the sexual act.” (Orwell 85). Winston’s sadistic and aggressive thoughts,prior to his and Julia’s affair are proof of the sexual repression the peopleof Oceania are experiencing.
When Julia asks him what he thought of her whenshe first passed him the note, Winston revealed that “he wanted to rape herand then murder her afterwards.” (Orwell 156). Further into the novel,Winston disclosed the fact that he used to be married to Katherine who was “atall, fair-haired girl, very straight, with splendid movements.” (Orwell 86).She called having sex “making a baby” or “our duty to the Party” (Orwell 87).
Eventhough the Party, was not completely against occasional sexual intercourse,they wanted romance to be completely removed from it because according to theParty’s mindset “desire was thoughtcrime” and “procreation will be an annualformality, like the renewal of a ration card.” (Orwell 88; 349). Aside from the strict regulation of sexual intercourse inOceania, the theme of violence also has a lingering presence in the novel.
Torturein Oceania is ironically overseen by the Ministry of Love, which is the branchin the government that enforces the loyalty to Big Brother and the Partythrough fear and brutality. It is through torture that the Party successfullyalters a rebellious mind to become an obedient and accepting one. Winston isseen as “a flaw in the pattern”, and since “it is impossible to see realityexcept by looking through the eyes of the Party”, he must be cured (Orwell 333;327).
Room 101 is the room that all prisoners of the Ministry of Love are takento, to be fixed – it is the final part of the torture process and the breakingpoint for everyone. Room 101 is where criminals face their worst fears andthrough that they are made “sane”. While Winston was in the cell at the Mistryof Love, there was a man there with him that was ordered to be sent to Room101. As soon as he heard that, he yelled that he had a family and that “theycan take the whole lot of them and cut their throats” but the officer did notseem to acknowledge him (Orwell 311).
Room 101 is where both Winston and Juliawent through the final stage of accepting their love for Big Brother andultimately gave in to torture. They had lost their free will, they were simplypawns of the government like everybody else and they no longer posed a threatto the Party (The Vintage News). O’Brien warned Winston that “never again willhe be capable of ordinary human feeling”, and that “they shall squeezehim empty and then they shall fill him with themselves” (Orwell 335;336). With regards to achieving more substantial control of aperson, Orwell demonstrates the ways in which the Party was able to acquireaccess to the minds and the thought process of people in Oceania. The firstaspect of mind control is the control of thoughts. The Party controls andrestricts people’s ability to think whatever they want to think, by enforcingstrict rules concerning what one is allowed to think. Thought crime is one ofthe many ways an individual in Oceania can commit treason – it is thinking ofanything that the Party considers illegal, which is subsequently anything thatopens a door to creating individuality.
Winston is aware that “thought crimedoes not entail death: thought crime IS death”, however he does not seem tocare as he is constantly committing thoughtcrime throughout the entire novel(Orwell 36). This further indicates that he is experiencing “doublethink”,which is one of the consequences of the Party’s massive propaganda campaigns.It is one’s ability to accept the information that the Party is feeding themand, simultaneously possessing a different set of information that contradictswhat one is being told.
Fundamentally, language is the origin of thoughts and itis the basis of everyone’s thought process. Controlling the language is a wayof controlling people’s thoughts as it narrows their vocabulary range, and as aresult “narrowing the range of thought” (Orwell 98). In 1984, the language that is predominantly used is Newspeak, whichconsists of fewer words with rigid meanings. In chapter five, the readers areintroduced to Syme, who worked in the Research Department and was a specialistin Newspeak. Orwell presents Syme as a character who is clearly loyal to BigBrother and was brainwashed by the Party. Syme believes that “the destructionof words” is “a beautiful thing” and that it is something that the society willbenefit from (Orwell 67). Newspeak was created to remove even the slightestpossibility of rebellious thoughts – the words that produce an opportunity ofsuch thoughts have been completely eliminated from the vocabulary. GeorgeOrwell believed that the corruption of language and totalitarianism are linkedand according to him, “ifthought corrupts language, language can also corrupts thought”, thus leading tothe idea of Newspeak (Politics and the English Language).
Equally important is the paranoia that is instilled inpeople as a way of keeping them in check and from breaking the rules. Orwellintroduces first indicator of the constant monitoring in Oceania is the posterthat Winston sees. “It was one of those pictures which are so contrived thatthe eyes follow you about when you move. BIG BROTHER IS WATCHING YOU, thecaption beneath it ran.” An example of Winston’s paranoia could be when hefirst encounters Julia and automatically assumes that she is a spy for the ThoughtPolice and she is now on her way to report him to them. When he was sure it wasthe same girl he had seen a couple of days ago in one of the buildings,”there was no doubting any longer that the girl was spying on him” (Orwell130). He thought “it was too great a coincidence.
Whether she was an agent ofthe Thought Police, or simply an amateur spy…, hardy mattered.” (Orwell 130).Furthermore, the feeling of paranoia is placed in people through the use oftechnology and how it is embedded in the citizens’ everyday life.
Throughoutthe novel Orwell shows that Winston lives in fear of the telescreenssurrounding him, and ultimately he is not wrong in being afraid, as thetelescreen in his and Julia’s hideout was the entire reason for them getting caught.Even at the beginning of the novel it was revealed that “the telescreenreceived and transmitted simultaneously” and that “there was of course no wayof knowing whether you were being watched at any given moment”, which mad anyaction that was even slightly out of the Party’s approval was a huge risk andcould put one’s entire life in jeopardy. Furthermore,another element to consider would be how the Party controls people’s emotionsand how that creates a social incompetence in the society.
Love is an emotionthat the population of Oceania are not familiar with. It is evident that thepeople there are restricted from having any sort of relationships involvingromance, “there will be no love, except the love of Big Brother” (Orwell349). Although marriage is tolerated by the Party, it is merely seen as aformality. The Party does not want partners in a marriage to have any realemotional attachments towards each other, because that kind of devotion poses arisk to the Party’s Power. The people are devoted to the Party, and the Partyonly. Winston himself had d not experienced love or having an intimaterelationship, however he was as mentioned earlier, married to his former wifeKathrine, who was a pawn for the Party just like everybody else.
Winston said”that she had without exception the most stupid, vulgar, empty mind that he hadever encountered” (Orwell 86). More… More significantly, the Party takes pleasure from gettingone to turn against their loved ones for the good of Big Brother, thusbetraying the bond of loyalty and trust that was shared. As Winston isreluctant to betray Julia, O’Brien exploits Winston’s loyalty to her as aweakness to further continue torturing him until he breaks. Winston once toldJulia “confession is not betrayal. What you say or do doesn’t matter: onlyfeelings matter. If they could make me stop loving you – that would be realbetrayal”, and ironically he did just that. Families in Oceania are expected toallow loyalty to Big Brother overshadow loyalty to any other person, no matter whothat person is.
Children are taught to spy on people from a young age, and arebrainwashed in a way that forces them to report their parents to the Party fora crime. Parsons explanation for his presence in the Ministry of Love was thathe got caught saying “down with Big Brother” in his sleep and that it was”his little daughter” who denounced him (Orwell 307). “He is proud of her”for doing so, “it shows he brought her up in the right spirit”, thusproving the Party’s influence in the family bond. By the means of anorganization called Junior Spies, which is where children are taught todenounce the parents to the Thought Police, the Party managed to wedge itselfbetween one of the most powerful instinctual bonds and transform parental love anddevotion into fear and paranoia, and then turn children into obedient pawns forthe Party or an extension of the Thought Police. Complimentaryto the state and methods of control in Airstrip One in Orwell’s 1984, connotations can be drawn with thestate and methods of control in Suzanne Collins’ novel The Hunger Games. Both novels portray how a revolution is somethingthat seems to be inconceivable for the citizens that are oppressed by thegovernment. In The Hunger Games, theCapitol is the center of command in Panem.
It is in charge of most of Panem’swealth and therefore has the means of control for all of its’ twelve districts.The annual Hunger Games are the ultimate act of the government’s power – theywere designed to be a regular spectacle for the purpose of warning the peopleof Panem about the consequences of a rebellion, thus achieving theircooperation. Although both novels consist of a totalitarian government andstrict societal control, they are presented with slightly different angles onthe way in which the two are handled. In Orwell’s novel, the protagonistWinston, is aware that the repercussion of going against the system is death,and accepts that.
In Collins’ novel, Katniss Everdeen has a chance at winningthe Games and being rewarded with a luxurious life, implying that she haslearned to accept living in a corrupted system. Both novels successfully conveyhow society’s norms and cultures can be changed with the appropriated use ofpropaganda along with fear. In conclusion, it has been proven that the main goal ofthe Party is to remove individuality. Throughout Orwell’s novel 1984, the stripping of one’sself-expression and identity is what seems to be the essential aspect ofdehumanization of a society.
Orwell wrote this novel not only as a reflectionof what he has seen in the war, but also as a warning of the future man who isbound to lose his individuality through the restriction of love and loyalty.This novel portrays how the oppression of a power, in this case the Party, canbe destructive and dangerous to humanity. In order to completely gain total control of people,restriction of their actions is simply not enough. The Party’s regulation ofhuman physiological processes and emotions is what George Orwell proves to benecessary to achieve successful authority over a society. “The Party seeks power entirely for its ownsake. It is not interested in the good of others; it is interested solelyin power” (Orwell 344).