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 language, known as Newspeak, helps to show exactly how the party has accomplished its complete control. Newspeak is the official language of Oceania, and had been devised to meet the ideological needs of Ingsoc (English Socialism), the political doctrine of the Party. The purpose of Newspeak is to express loyalty to the Party while making any other methods of thought impossible, to ensure that all exchange is representative of the Party's intention. By removing meaning and nuance from the vocabulary, the Party hopes to eradicate anti-social thinking before it even has the chance to enter a person's mind. The goal is to include in the dictionary only the meanings that a Party member would wish to express, while excluding all other meanings and also the possibility of arriving at them by indirect methods. Citizens1 that choose to defy the Party and think on their own, called thought criminals, including Winston Smith, are always captured by the Thought Police and remedied of their "ills" by means of reeducation, or worse. Depending on the strength of the mind, a violator could be looking at the worst imaginable torture as part of his correction routine.
Another of the Party's brilliant techniques used to control the people of...