|Type of paper:||Book review|
|Categories:||English literature 1984 George Orwell|
"'It's a beautiful thing, the destruction of words. Of course, the great wastage is in the verbs and adjectives, but there are hundreds of nouns that can be got rid of as well. It isn't only the synonyms; there are also the antonyms. After all, what justification is there for a word which is simply the opposite of some other word? A word contains its opposite in itself. Take 'good', for instance. If you have a word like 'good', what need is there for a word like 'bad'? 'Ungood' will do just as well-better because it's an exact opposite, which the other is not" (p. 51)
This is part of the conversation that ensued between Winston and Syne while the two were sharing a meal at the cafeteria. Syne provided this explanation to Winston following a question that the latter asked regarding the progress of the dictionary. According to Syne, the eleventh edition of the dictionary is described as definitive and some elements ought to be changed. This was a deliberate attempt to change the language and help people like Winston learn the improved version. Syne believes that the current dictionary had wasted verbs and adjectives and such redundancies should be eliminated. He attempts to justify his argument by insisting that there is no need to have words and definitions of words that mean the opposite of others in the same dictionary.
It is evident that both Winston and Syne work at the ministry of truth and their main role is to distort information. They play a crucial role in helping the ruling party to feed the public with filtered information that only benefits that party. Changing the dictionary is one of the ways through which truth can be distorted through selective elimination of words such as bad and replacing with "ungood". Once this is achieved, the society will lack extreme words to explain any negative trends within the government because the available adjectives and verbs would have been sugarcoated. It is also important to note that the party intelligently selects individuals who have the ability to integrate its goals in strategic materials that the public considers essential; in this case, the dictionary is an important learning resource.
'When you make love you're using up energy, and afterwards you feel happy and don't give a damn for anything. They can't bear you to feel like that. They want you to be bursting with energy all the time. All this marching up and down and cheering and waving flags is simply sex gone sour. If you're happy inside yourself, why should you get excited about Big Brother and the Tree-Year Plans and the Two Minutes Hate and all the rest of their bloody rot?' (Orwell p. 133)
This is part of the conversation that developed between Julia and Winston after the latter had narrated the challenges of marriage to Katherine. According to the narration provided on page 133, Julia loved to talk about sex because all her attention focused on her sexuality. She loved the topic and would always turn the direction of any conversation to talk about sex. In this particular context, Julia attempts to explain the source of energy and cheering exercised by members of the ruling party. Julia believes that such people bring out the results of a sexual experience that has gone sour. Julia believes that people who enjoy sex tend to utilize a lot of energy to earn a deserved feeling of pleasure and in the end, the satisfaction makes it impossible to care about anything including anger.
The type of discussion that was often adopted by Julia is a representation of the Party's sexual puritanism. A connection can be established to understand the position of sex in the party's affairs. Despite the fact that the party lacked the means to control sexual instinct, a certain degree of hysteria had been created which prevented the employees and the party members from engaging in sex. This was an important tool that helped the party to avoid war-fever and leadership wrangles. It implies that any sex impulse was a deleterious weapon to the party, and the same had been applied to control the aspect of parenthood. The discussion also reveals that the party was not only keen to control its position in society but also the position of its members in society.
"On the sixth day of Hate Week, after the processions, the speeches, the shouting, the singing, the banners, the posters, the films, the waxworks, the rolling of drums and squealing of trumpets, the tramp of marching feet, the grinding of the caterpillars of tanks, the roar of massed planes, the booming of guns-after six days of this, when the great orgasm was quivering to its climax and the general hatred of Eurasia had boiled up into such delirium that if the crowd could have got their hands on the 2,000 Eurasian war-criminals who were to be publicly hanged on the last day of the proceedings, they would unquestionably have torn them to pieces-at just this moment it had been announced that Oceania was not after all at war with Eurasia. Oceania was at war with Eastasia. Eurasia was an ally" (Orwell p. 180)
The above excerpt is part of the explanation of some of the major events that were sponsored by the party. The section brings out a picture of the hate week that had lasted for six days where followers were involved in wild activities such as singing, shouting, marching and blowing trumpets. On the other hand, banners posters and films were used to reach out to a larger audience. The demonstration brought together thousands of people including school children. All this activism was intended to trigger public hatred against the enemies of the ruling party and Oceania at large. However, the explanation also reveals that the political wind had changed to make Eurasia an ally of Oceania while at the same time converting Eastasia to an enemy.
In this part, some of the political tools that benefited the ruling party are revealed. Despite the fact that the party used the ministry of truth to distort information that was released to the public, it was necessary to garner public support. For instance, whenever Oceania wanted to go to war with Eurasia or Eastasia, the first step was to create propaganda which was to be fed to the public using different media. After public awareness had been created, the party would proceed to organize demonstrations where they would strategically install spies to monitor the situation. The campaigns were an efficient tool that the party utilized to justify any action that they pursued; including the illegal activities. In addition, the party would put measures to ensure that such demonstrations persisted for several days for the people to believe in their position. For instance, the change of political wind required additional time and campaigns to convince the public that Eastasia was an actual enemy and not Eurasia.
Anything could be true. The so-called laws of Nature were nonsense. The law of gravity was nonsense. 'If I wished,' O'Brien had said, 'I could float off this floor like a soap bubble.' Winston worked it out. 'If he THINKS he floats off the floor, and if I simultaneously THINK I see him do it, then the thing happens.' Suddenly, like a lump of submerged wreckage breaking the surface of water, the thought burst into his mind: 'It doesn't really happen. We imagine it. It is hallucination.' He pushed the thought under instantly. The fallacy was obvious. It presupposed that somewhere or other, outside oneself, there was a 'real' world where 'real' things happened. (Orwell p. 273)
At this point, Jones, Aaronson, and Rutherford had been charged and found guilty of the crimes they had been accused. A revelation emerges that every past could be altered and anything could be converted to the truth to favor the interest of the party. The change could also affect the knowledge and perception of people regarding the laws of nature such as gravity. For instance, Obrien claims that he had the ability to float off the floor. However, it turns out that imagination plays an important role in changing conventional truths to lies and the vice versa is also correct. Winston tries to dissect Obrien's thought and establishes that the later dwells on fallacies and lives in denial of basic truths.
The strategy of converting information to favor the party was one of the ways of maintaining control of its position. In case the truth came out, the party would lose its grip among the people and this could trigger public unrest or distrust. Therefore, specific individuals such as Obrien have been installed by the party because their imagination can be utilized to make the unbelievable to become believable. Despite the fact that a fallacy can be obvious, there is an endless need to trigger certain patterns of imagination among followers and the public to drive the mind away from the real world. Therefore, all things that tend to happen in reality are perceived differently in the minds of the party faithful. The narrator argues that whatever happens in one's mind is considered to be true. This can be considered as pollution of the mind or brainwashing where political goals dissociate people from the universal truths; it gives room for injustice to prevail in society.
Orwell, Geroge. 1984. New York: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 1983.
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