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Analysis of the Novel, 1984 by George Orwell
The novel, 1984, by George Orwell qualifies to be considered a classic piece of literature going by the depth in the content and relevant insights it contain and the unique style that it adopts. Using the experiences of character Wilson Smith, Orwell attempts to highlight the influence that a totalitarian government would have on the society members. The dangers arising from such a government lie in attempts to control the lives of its civilians. Through this, the government manipulates civilians’ minds undermining their ability to make decisions for themselves. These totalitarian tendencies are the ones that Orwell is disturbed with as they give way to widespread oppressions as the government seeks to control and monitor the lives and movements of civilians.
While capitalist nations such as the United States claim to rubbish totalitarian tendencies, it is gradually becoming evident that they are embracing the same tendencies. Events that have taken place after the terrorist attack of September 11, 2001 points towards authoritarian government tendencies covered in the novel 1984. Legislations, revelations of illegal wiretapping and government sanctioned torture and assassinations that have taken place relate to the tendencies that make George Orwell disturbed. As a result, the democracy that the US has traditionally been associated with has been progressively contracting. Relating totalitarian tendencies established in 1984 and the current ongoings in the US administrations, it is becoming evident that tendencies mentioned in the novel are creeping into the US and they pose dangers to and are counterproductive to the democracy that the country has been advocating.
George Orwell has effectively discussed the issue of constant surveillance, where government authorities watch over the lifestyle of its citizens in order to look out for any signs of rebellion. For instance, the government establishes a slogan of, “big brother is watching you” (Orwell 3). This is meant to ensure that the citizens became cautious of whatever they are doing. Additionally, the government authorities use telescreens to monitor the activities of its citizens. These screens are found in public places. The police are also strategic and George Orwell depicts them as flying around residence using helicopters, peering into people’s windows.
Government authority is vested in the Party, signifying that the Party is the government. Curiously, the Party uses members of the family to survey the activities of fellow members. The Party uses children to get information about the activities of their parents. Orwell provides a picture in which spies of the party train children to be devoted members of the party, thereby making them to relay information about the activities of their parents. The fact that children are allowed by the party to eavesdrop on their parent’s conversation makes adults to even fear their own children. Sometimes, parents denounce their children, and the party’s propaganda machine, The Times, would write an article praising this act as heroic. The child would be branded as a ‘hero’ for abandoning his family for the well-being of the party.
Other forms of surveillance can be depicted when party officials warn the citizens against allowing their thoughts to wander aimlessly. The consequence of this according to party officials is that some negative thought could easily be registered on the public telescreens. For instance, if a citizen has a negative facial expression when victory is announced, he would be facecrime. The author says, “Your worst enemy was your own nervous system. At any moment, the tension inside you was liable to translate itself into some visible symptom” (Orwell 64).
In the US, the situation is the same as in Oceania. As has been witnessed in Oceania, police officers are not ashamed of using helicopters to even look through the windows of their citizens. In the US, many government officials have been mandated to enter into private homes without any warrants. These powers have been offered to them by the Patriot Act of 2001, which was signed into law by former US President George Bush (Fincen 3). This Act was extended by President Obama in 2011, suggesting that the citizens would continually have their homes checked without warrants. The aspect of using children to monitor the activities of their parents can be equated to the habit of US authorities keeping computerized information of citizens. The fact that children would relay information of parents to party officials is akin to the danger of private information being fed into a centralized data bank (Bennett 3). Government officials have effectively used Media outlets like CNN to spread western ideals. In this sense, both the Obama and Bush administrations have traditionally used media houses to paint a good picture of Western countries. This makes non-western nations to look ‘bad’.
The inner party uses propaganda as a strategy to force its viewpoint on its citizens. Those who rebel against the assertions of the propaganda are tortured and sometimes brainwashed in order to conform to the dictates of the party. It is quite apparent that rumors, false ideas and myths control the minds of citizens in the fictitious country, Oceania. One of the most distinct propaganda machinery used is the party slogan that reads; “War is peace. Freedom is slavery. Ignorance is strength.” This slogan is doublespeak because it does not express any form of absolute truth. A clear analysis of this slogan reveals key issues. For instance, the slogan spreads a distinct propaganda that discourages citizens from looking for freedom because it is a form of slavery. Additionally, the party slogan creates the impression that the ignorance of the citizens on government affairs is a great strength. In this sense, the propaganda asserts that the secret to happiness lies in ignorance.
The slogan has effectively been used by the government to control its citizens into believing that the INGSOC government alone that can make them happy. Another slogan, “Big brother is watching you” is an effective propaganda that is used by the party through the media to control the minds of its citizens. From the surface, the slogan creates the impression that the citizens are safe in the hands of the authority. However, the slogan is meant to spread fear among the citizens that without the Party, there would be no safety. This makes the citizens not to rebel against the establishment.
Of course, it has to be acknowledged that the ‘Big brother’ is composed of the Party and the INGSOC. In general, propaganda has been used to brainwash the citizens of Oceania into believing that ‘big brother’ intends to make them happy. These propagandas have effectively been used to prevent rebellion because it makes citizens to feel safe and protected. The apparent belief in an ideal society through propaganda can therefore be described as one of the most lethal weapon that has been used by the Party to control the citizens of Oceania. Indeed, the aspect of brainwashing is quite successful. When Winston visits Parsons’ place, he notices a full-sized banner of ‘big brother’ (Orwell 27).This is the party paraphernalia within the house of a citizen, highlighting the fact that ‘big brother’ has been effective in spreading propaganda to households.
President George Bush was a master propagandist, especially during the time of the Iraq war. Having known that the public was not supportive of the Iraq invasion, he tried to use some phrases which were meant to hide the truth. Terms such as,’ axis of evil’ were meant to whip public sentiments for the war. Although it was quite apparent that there existed no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, the then US president was more concerned about regime change in order to install a regime that was favorable to the oil interests of the US. By suggesting that Iraq falls within the axis of evil was a strategic language that was meant to convince the public that the country was making nuclear weapons.
Distortion of Language
Like other literary scholars, George Orwell has effectively abused and misused the English language in order to drive his message home. Government authorities deceive and manipulate the citizenry by language. As a result, the people are able to exhibit unquestionable loyalty to the regime. Distortion of language is highly exposed through the media. Quite apparently, the media is skilled in engineering the ‘truth’. For instance, Winston’s job in the ministry of Truth is to modify news items and other documents that expose the Party in bad light (Lewis, Florence and Moss 47). After replacing the original document with a modified one, he destroys all the original files. Orwell says:
This process of continuous alteration was applied not only to newspapers, but also to books, periodicals, pamphlets, posters, leaflets… Day by day and almost minute by minute, the past was brought up to date. In this way, every prediction made by the Party could not be shown by documentary evidence to have been correct; nor was any item of news, or any expression of opinion, which conflicted with the needs of the moment, ever allowed to remain on record (Orwell 42).
Of course, the aspect of distorting language was meant to make it difficult for the opposition to grow. Additionally, the totalitarian state of Oceania is in constant war, and the Party has to keep the public satisfied with this warfare. The authorities are quite aware that if the public becomes dissatisfied with the warfare, then it would resent the shortage of food and other commodities and possibly rebel against the party (Berkes 7). Therefore, the use of language through the media has been used to distract public attention away from the negative side of warfare. Media uses soothing words, which creates good news of victory. For instance, Winston’s telescreen announces, “Our forces in South India have won a glorious victory. I am authorized to say that the action we are now reporting may well bring the war within measurable distance of its end” (Orwell 28).
In many instances, the media relies on the contention that any piece of information that is repeated often becomes accepted truth. This is something that Winston comes to discover, when he becomes amazed that his friends and colleagues accept the lies that emanate from the media. Therefore, in o.............
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