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Comparing Society Today With That Of The World In George Orwell's "1984"

1273 words - 5 pages

John David Frodsham (1985) points out that to study George Orwell's 1984 is to note: "1984 will always remain as a menacing possibility" (p. 139). George Orwell, in his futuristic novel, 1984, incites the imagination of the reader to compare society today with that of the world in the novel. The totalitarian society depicted by Orwell did not achieve its power and authority only through violence, real or threatened, but through the isolation of every Oceania citizen and the incitation of propaganda. Such a division made meaningful discourse among them impossible and opened the door for the belief of propaganda because information came only from the Party. Although whitewashing world events, both past and present, to conform to the ideals of Ingsoc was important for maintaining the status quo, those acting on behalf of the state went even further in attempting to control the thoughts of the individual. In order to do this, they developed a language, Newspeak, that would restrict thought within clear and narrow paradigms. That way, one could hardly dissent to anything since there would be no language to describe it.As Orwell wrote in the Appendix, some "Newspeak words, of which oldthink was one, [were] not so much to express meanings as to destroy them (250-51) [original emphasis]." Consequently, those in charge took it upon themselves to redefine terms in order to conform to Party orthodoxy, often resulting in such oxymoronic minitruisms as "War is Peace," and "Freedom is Slavery." The Ministry of Truth is in charge of propaganda, for example, just as the Ministry of Love metes out brutal punishment. Since both 'truth' and 'love' retain their positive oldspeak connotations, both Party members and Proles accept and embrace the evils of Ingsoc as good, plusgood, or doubleplusgood, depending on their loyalty.Orwell's notion of thoughtcrime illustrates the individualistic tendencies that the state, personified as Big Brother, wishes to eliminate. Protagonist Winston knew that as soon as he decided to commit his thoughts to paper that he had done something that would ultimately result in punishment. The commentary itself was of little consequence, for the mere fact that Winston had independent thoughts in need of expression is dangerous to the Party.Duckspeak, which Winston's "friend" Syme optimistically projected would be ubiquitous by 2050, was speech so glibly rapid and unintelligible that it sounded like quacking. It would end thoughtcrime, for its meaninglessness would render no words by which to conceive of dissenting notions, let alone express them. Even if one managed to form an ungood statement, there would be no way to debate it since the language necessary to do so no longer existed (Orwell 254-55).Control over public expression in order to legitimate an indiscriminate war machine, is a theme of 1984 that might remind the twenty-first century reader of contemporary events. The powers that were created an oxymoronic language, full of such...

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