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 How are the names of the ministries in George Orwell's 1984 paradoxical?

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masaki1996 | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted October 27, 2012 at 12:09 PM via web

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 How are the names of the ministries in George Orwell's 1984 paradoxical?

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rrteacher | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted October 27, 2012 at 2:30 PM (Answer #1)

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The names of the ministries, which Orwell describes in Chapter One of 1984, are Ministry of Love (Miniluv in Newspeak,) Ministry of Plenty (Miniplenty,) Ministry of Peace (Minipax,) and the Ministry of Truth (Minitrue,) where Winston works. The names are paradoxical because they clearly, at least to the reader, do not reflect reality. Miniluv is in charge of law enforcement, and employs brutal secret police and torture to carry out its mission; Miniplenty is responsible for the economy, and the people of London clearly do not live in plenty; Minipax is in reality a ministry of war. As for Minitrue, its role is essentially a propaganda ministry, and it employs thousands of workers like Winston to distribute propaganda as well as, like Winston, rewrite history in a way favorable to the Party. The paradox embodied by these names is in many ways central to the Party's rule. It is described as "doublethink" later in the book, and is driven home by the slogan on the side of the Ministry of Truth, which reads: 

WAR IS PEACE
FREEDOM IS SLAVERY
IGNORANCE IS STRENGTH

 
 

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discussion1984 | Salutatorian

Posted October 27, 2012 at 10:32 PM (Answer #2)

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That's a really interesting question. Let me think if I remember the book....Well, the Department of Truth is ironic in the sense that their job is to hide the truth at all costs. The Department of Love (I think that's what it was called) is ironic because there was nothing loving about it. It was brutal, nasty and long. Just look at what it did to Winston. I don't remember the last one. But essentially, the departments do exactly the opposite of what they're named to do/be.

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