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1984: The Logic In Lunacy Essay

1142 words - 5 pages

1984 by George Orwell may seem like a run of the mill dystopian novel but the plethora of paradoxes and interwoven contradictions create a complex reading experience. Every single incongruity within the novel proves itself to be sensible and valid. Orwell skillfully enlaces this backwards society with contradictory slogans, ideology, and language that leaves one perplexed at what they just read, forcing one to reevaluate their own logic.
Early in the novel, the three fundamental mottos of Ingsoc are presented. These mottos are “WAR IS PEACE/ FREEDOM IS SLAVERY/ IGNORANCE IS STRENGTH” (Orwell 26). Each phrase is a paradox within itself. When analyzed with the context of the political and social atmosphere, each contradictory motto becomes logical. The first concept, “WAR IS PEACE”, is thoroughly brought into light by the untitled book that O’Brien lends Winston after Winston expresses his interest in the Brotherhood. War in Oceania is actually peaceful because “the object of the war is not to make or prevent conquests of territory, but to keep the structure of society intact” according to this informative book (164). The continuous wars between Oceania, Eastasia, and Eurasia prove that these regions have surprisingly civilized relationships with one another, with the book even stating “the effect would be much the same if the three super-states, instead of fighting one another, should agree to live in perpetual peace, each inviolate within its own boundaries” (164). These wars are only waged to gain a labor force that will be used to get the upperhand in the next war. The goal is to maintain peace. Although “WAR IS PEACE” appears to be a contradiction, the paradoxical quality of the statement actually adds to the complexity of the story; it reveals that citizens just like Winston can live their whole lives unaware of the aims of this never ending war. This only epitomizes the extent of the Party’s power. The next contradiction is “FREEDOM IS SLAVERY”; the proles are a great example of this concept. They almost live boundlessly, with very few laws keeping them in line because their minds are adequately enslaved by the Party. Because they are given everything they need to survive and be happy, there is no sign of complaints amongst them. Ultimately, the Party only gives the proles this freedom because the Party understands that their mental control over the proles is powerful enough ward off any physical rebellion. Therefore, the proles are given physical freedom because they are not going to abuse it. Thus, freedom is truly slavery. The contradictory nature of the phrase “ignorance is strength” also adds depth to 1984. At least 85% of Oceania’s population is unaware of the Party’s abuse of power, making them ignorant. They instinctively follow the Party because they have no real reason to do otherwise. O’Brien claims that “if [one] can merge [one]self in the Party so that [one] is the Party, then [one] is all-powerful and immortal” (218)....

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