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Essay on 1984 by George Orwell
Excerpt From this Document
- The three slogans “WAR IS PEACE/ FREEDOM IS SLAVERY/ IGNORANCE IS STRENGTH” (16) embody the practices of the Party, the all-controlling upper class of George Orwell’s imaginary yet prophetic vision of the world in 1984. In 1984, Oceania, a socialist utopia and a world of bleakness and hatred, is the creation of the Party, also the central organ of this society “for the people,” yet also the ultimate, interminable oligarchy. The Party is evil because it consciously preserves this state, in which it controls everything—government, economy, the present, future, and past, the mind and body, and even reality itself—with every intention of preventing it from falling into decline and extinction. The Party is villainous because through the ultimate system of oligarchy, it deliberately, precisely perpetuates warfare, destroys the idea of man as an individual, and distorts reality—for the sake of power.
- In order to preserve the society which it controls, the Party keeps Oceania in a state of continuous, never-ending warfare. The aim of the Party is “pure power” (263), its means absolute control over all people. Warfare is different in the world of 1984: it is systematically utilized by the ruling classes of the world, for “war…not only accomplishes the necessary destruction, but accomplishes it in a psychologically acceptable way” (192). This is a method through which the Party suppresses and deceives the population; the Party is methodically utilizing warfare as a tool to generate hatred and fear in the population, preserving “the special mental atmosphere that a hierarchical society needs” (199) as well as prevent a general improvement in the lifestyle of the common people by “eating up the surplus of consumable goods” (199). In a freakish twist, the Party, in effect, preserves peace through war, for the state of society that the Party desires cannot exist without eternal warfare.
- In the world that the Party has created, “a minority of one” (249) is not sane; by making him insane, the Party establishes control over the minds of all those who are not. Collectivism is essential to the Party, in particular collective thought. The Party has created a word, “thoughtcrime,” the crime of thinking a thought contrary to the reality established by the Party, or opposed to the state that it has created. The individual cannot be individual. Anyone who is will before long no longer exist. The Party utilizes a vast system of espionage, through which the “Thought Police” not merely tortures and kills, but vaporizes, erases from the records, any person who intellectually or emotionally deviates from Party ideology in the slightest; thus, he no longer exists, and in fact never existed. This is another systematic method through which the Party retains absolute control over the population. In accordance with the tenet “FREEDOM IS SLAVERY” (16), the Party requires of each individual “complete, utter submission… escape from his identity…merge in the Party so that he is the Party” (264). Thus, the Party eliminates individuality to establish control—control over the human mind.
- The ultimate motive of the Party is power, and as a means to this end, “power is collective” (264) and “sanity is statistical” (217)—determined by numbers. In the world that the Party has created, sanity is not measured by the facts known as reality, the ideas believed in, or the thoughts possessed by any one person. Sanity is determined by how many people know those facts as reality, believe in those ideas, or possess those thoughts. The majority is sane, the minority insane; and the majority always, without exception, knows, believes, and thinks what the Party establishes as truth. The minority of one that deviates from that truth—the one that utilizes logic, memory, and instinct—is not sane. In making sanity itself statistical and controlling what is sane, the Party possesses the human mind, and thus power, for power is “power over human beings…above, all, over the mind” (264).
About this Document
An AP Literature-level essay about George Orwell's 1984.