Essay/Term paper: 1984: government's attempt to control the mind and bodies of its citizens
Essay, term paper, research paper: George Orwell
See all college papers and term papers on George Orwell
Need a different (custom) essay on George Orwell? Buy a custom essay on George Orwell
Need a custom research paper on George Orwell? Click here to buy a custom term paper.
1984: Government's Attempt to Control The Mind and Bodies of Its Citizens
The novel Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell is an American classic which
explores the human mind when it comes to power, corruption, control, and the
ultimate utopian society. Orwell indirectly proposes that power given to the
government will ultimately become corrupt and they will attempt to force all to
conform to their one set standard. He also sets forth the idea that the
corrupted government will attempt to destroy any and all mental and physical
opposition to their beliefs, thus eliminating any opportunity for achieving an
The novel shows how the government attempts to control the minds and bodies
of it citizens, such as Winston Smith who does not subscribe to their beliefs,
through a variety of methods. The first obvious example arises with the large
posters with the caption of "Big Brother is Watching You" (page 5). These are
the first pieces of evidence that the government is watching over its people.
Shortly afterwards we learn of the "Thought Police", who "snoop in on
conversations, always watching your every move, controlling the minds and
thoughts of the people." (page 6). To the corrupted government, physical
control is not good enough, however. The only way to completely eliminate
physical opposition is to first eliminate any mental opposition. The government
is trying to control our minds, as it says "thought crime does not entail death;
thought crime is death." (page 27). Later in the novel the government tries
even more drastic methods of control. Big Brother's predictions in the Times
are changed. The government is lying about production figures (pages 35-37).
Even later in the novel, Syme's name was left out on the Chess Committee list.
He then essentially vanishes as though he had never truly existed (page 122).
Though the methods and activities of the government seem rather extreme in
Orwell's novel, they may not be entirely too false. "Nineteen Eighty-Four is to
the disorders of the twentieth century what Leviathan was to those of the
seventeenth." (Crick, 1980). In the novel, Winston Smith talks about the people
not being human. He says that "the only thing that can keep you human is to not
allow the government to get inside you." (page 137). The corruption is not the
only issue which Orwell presents, both directly and indirectly. He warns that
absolute power in the hands of any government can lead to the deprival of basic
freedoms and liberties for the people. Though he uses the Soviet Union as the
basis of the novel's example, he sets the story in England to show that any
absolute power, whether in a Communist state or a Democratic one, can result in
an autocratic and overbearing rule. When government lies become truths, and
nobody will oppose, anything can simply become a fact. Through the control of
the mind and body the government attempts, any hopes of achieving an utopian
society are dashed. The peoples' minds are essentially not theirs' anymore.
The government tells them how to think. Conformity and this unilateral thinking
throughout the entire population can have disastrous results. Orwell also tells
us it has become a "world of monstrous machines and terrifying weapons.
Warriors fighting, triumphing, persecuting... 3 million people all with the same
face." (page 64).
George Orwell was born in India and brought up with the British upper
class beliefs of superiority over the lower castes and in general class pride.
A theme very prevalent in his novels, Nineteen Eighty-Four certainly no
exception, is this separation in the classes. The masses are disregarded by the
Party. This is a theme which is "fundamental to the novel, but not demonstrated
as fully as the devastation of language and the elimination of the past." (Kazin,
1984). Kazin also states in his essay that:
"Orwell thought the problem of domination by class or caste or
race or political machine more atrocious than ever. It
demands solution. Because he was from the upper middle class and
knew from his own prejudices just how unreal the lower classes can
be to upper-class radicals, a central theme in all his work is
the separateness and loneliness of the upper-class observer, like
his beloved Swift among the oppressed Irish."
This feeling of superiority somewhat provokes and leads to the aforementioned
corruption of absolute power. As the saying goes, "absolute power corrupts
absolutely." It is not even so much that the rulers want to become corrupt, but
they cannot grasp the idea of an absolute rule. They, as Kazin stated, cannot
comprehend the differentiation within the system, and thus become corrupt. This
ultimately prevents achieving an utopian society where the upper class people
want to oppress and the lower class want to rebel.
Orwell had strong anti-totalitarianism points of view and greatly
satires Socialism, even though he still insisted he was a Socialist in its pure
form, in this novel and in Animal Farm. Many consider that Nineteen Eighty-Four
is actually an extension of Animal Farm. In Animal Farm, Orwell
"left out one element which occurs in all his other works of
fiction, the individual rebel caught up in the machinery of
the caste system. Not until Nineteen Eighty-Four did he
elaborate on the rebel's role in an Animal Farm carried to
its monstrously logical conclusion."
The two books primary connection is through the use of the totalitarian society
and the rebel, and as stated some believe Nineteen Eighty-Four to simply be an
extension of Animal Farm. Nineteen Eighty-Four, however, brings everything to
an even more extreme but even scarier is the fact that is more realistic, such
as in a Nazi Germany environment. Nineteen Eighty-Four is considered to have
great pessimistic undertones, Orwell's prophecy if you will. It is also not
known whether it was intended as a "last words", though it was his final work,
as he collapsed and was bed-ridden for two years before he died. He did marry
several months before his death saying it gave him new reason to live. Orwell's
creation of Winston Smith shows a character who is:
"in struggle against the system, occasionally against himself,
but rarely against other people. One thinks of Orwell's
having thrown his characters into a circular machine and
then noting their struggle against the machine, their
attempts to escape it or compromise themselves with it."
Orwell writes more about the struggle as a piece of advice than anything else.
This novel was widely considered prophetic, a warning of what could be to come
if we did not take care. Orwell's method was to introduce the questions, not
propose solutions. Most likely he did not have the solution, but it was his
"solution" to help bring about the awareness of the existing problem.
The corrupt government is trying to control the minds of their subjects,
which in turn translates to control of their body. Orwell warns that absolute
power in the hands of any government can deprive people of all basic freedoms.
There are similar references in another of Orwell's novels, Animal Farm,
supporting the ideas of corruption and an unattainable utopian society which
were presented here in Nineteen Eighty-Four. With this novel, Orwell also
introduced the genre of the dystopic novel into the world of literature.
Other sample model essays:
English Literature Essays / 1984
1984 I think that today's society is a "half version" of George Owell's novel, 1984, in some ways it is similar and in others, uniquely different. The closest we come today to a "Big Broth...
George Orwell / George Orwell's 1984
George Orwell's 1984 Introduction- This story takes place in a state called Oceania. The main characters introduced are Winston Smith who is a worker on one of the four branches of governme...
George Orwell / 1984: The Party Has Many Slogans
1984: The Party Has Many Slogans In George Orwell's 1984, the Party, the government of Oceania, has many slogans. One of the sayings is "Big Brother Is Watching You". Despite the fact...
George Orwell / GEORGE ORWELL'S 1984
GEORGE ORWELL'S 1984 THE BOOK 1984 BY GEORGE ORWELL IS ABOUT A MAN NAMED WINSTON SMITH. HE LIVES IN THE COUNTRY OF OCEANIA. IN THIS COUNTRY EVERY THING IS CONTROLLED BY A PARTY NAMED THE B...
George Orwell / 1984: Summary And Reactions
1984: Summary and Reactions Summary Chapter 1 and 2 We are introduced to Winston Smith the main character of the story. Works at Ministry of truth. Ministry of truth is one of four gove...
English Literature Essays / 20,000 LEAGUES UNDER THE SEA
20,000 LEAGUES UNDER THE SEA by Jules Verne The news spread worldwide about a serpent-like creature. Supposedly, part of the whale family has been ramming ships and sinking them with ea...
English Literature Essays / 6 Months Later
6 Months Later Now that Lennie is out of the way, I guess that I can actually do something with my life. But, It's been 6 months since leaving the farm and I still don't have a job. Oh...
English Literature Essays / ABC Book
ABC Book Agatha Christie, the author of "And then there were None" is called the Queen of Mystery by those who have read her books. In addition to, "And then there were None", Agatha Chris...
A Clockwork Orange / A Clockwork Orange
A Clockwork Orange The freedom of choice and the rehabilitating form of corrections encase the realm of A Clockwork Orange, by Anthony Burgess. It produces the question about man's free w...
“1984” is a novel about totalitarianism and the fate of a single man who tried to escape from an overwhelming political regime. The book was written by the British writer and journalist George Orwell in 1948 and had the Soviet Union as a prototype of the social structure described in it.
Events in the book take place in London, a capital of Airstrip One, which is a province of the state of Oceania. The year is 1984, and the world is engaged in an endless omnipresent war. The political regime called Ingsoc (a misspelled abbreviation for English Socialism) constantly seeks out ways to control the minds and private lives of its citizens. The regime is run by the Party, headed by a half mythical Big Brother. The main protagonist of the novel is Winston Smith, an editor in the Ministry of Truth, which is responsible for propaganda. He has doubts about imposed dogmas that are shared by the majority, and at heart, he hates the Party and the Big Brother.
Winston buys a thick notebook where he writes down his thoughts about the reality that surrounds him. In his world, each step of the individual is controlled by the Thought Police, whose main function is to punish people who think differently from what is contained in the official propaganda. Everyone reports on each other, and even children are taught and encouraged to denounce their parents. Winston knows he commits a crime when he denies the Party’s slogan: “War is Peace. Slavery is Freedom. Ignorance is Strength,” but still he writes in his diary: “Down with the Big Brother.”
At work, Winston recalls recent “Two Minutes Hate” periods of time, when all Party members must gather in special rooms where they watch a short film about Emmanuel Goldstein, the former leader of the Party, who betrayed it and organized the underground movement called the Brotherhood. People are obliged to express hatred towards Goldstein’s image on the screen. During one of these periods, Winston fixates on O’Brien—a member of the most powerful Inner Party. For some reason, Winston imagines that O’Brien could be one of the leaders of the Brotherhood. He wants to talk to him, and he even has a dream in which O’Brien’s voice says: “We shall meet at the place where there is no darkness.”
After the Two Minutes Hate, he received a note from a girl named Julia that reads “I love you.” Julia is a member of the Anti-Sex League, so at first, Winston treats her with mistrust, and he even considers her to be a member of the Thought Police. However, she manages to prove to him that she hates the Party too and they start a love affair. It brings Winston to the thought that they are both doomed, because free romantic relationships between a man and a woman are prohibited. Julia is more optimistic about their situation, because she simply lives in the present moment and does not think about the future. They meet in an old second-hand shop in the Prols’ district—a place where people who have not yet joined the Party life. They seem to be more free and light-hearted than the rest of Airstrip’s One population.
Eventually, Winston and Julia get arrested. They are held separately, tortured, and interrogated. Winston is beaten by jailers and he is forced to confess to various crimes, legitimate and fictional. But still, the physical pain is nothing for him compared to the shock that he experiences when he meets O’Brien and finds that he is a loyal servant of the Big Brother. O’Brien uses a special device that causes incredible pain to “re-educate” Winston, make him love the Big Brother and adopt all the Party’s false dogmas. Winston resists and he declares that despite the fact that, under torture, he has betrayed everything he valued and believed in, there is one person that he is still devoted to: Julia. But here, Orwell depicts the Party’s endless possibilities to monitor the thoughts of each citizen in Oceania. The Party knows exactly what Winston fears most, though it is a secret for Winston himself. O’Brien puts a swarm of rats in front of his victim’s face and, driven to panic and horror, Winston finally cries: “Do it to Julia! Do it to Julia! Not me! Julia! I don’t care what you do to her. Tear her face off and strip her to the bones. Not me! Julia! Not me!”
The novel ends with a description of how Winston is sitting in a cafe, drinking gin. Sometimes he meets Julia occasionally, but they dislike each other now because they know that both of them are traitors. Winston looks at the screen, where an announcer gladly informs everyone that Oceania has won the recent war, and he understands that he now loves the Big Brother. The system managed to break and completely remake Winston.
Orwell, George. 1984. London: Penguin Books Limited, 2005. Print.
Sign up and we’ll send you ebook of 1254 samples like this for free!
- 80+ essay types
- 1000+ essay samples
- Pro writing tips