In Orwell's "1984," what is the purpose of the telescreen?
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The telescreen is a propaganda tool used by the state ("Big Brother") to get into people's heads and control them. It also monitors everyone's actions and speech, completely controlling every aspect of human existence. These telescreens are everywhere - there is no escaping them in this horrible society Orwell has shown us.
The purpose of the telescreen is to maintain control over the Oceanic society. The party uses it as a tool to differentiate between the supporters of Big Brother, a manifestation of the Party, and dissidents, those that want to oppose or rebel against an authoritative party. It functions as a form of surveillance; people are unable to escape the scrutiny and are never sure when they are being observed or listened to. This ensures that they are wary of not only their words and actions but also their thoughts as they are given away by their facial expressions.
The people are under constant surveillance, which is a characteristic of a dystopia. They have no freedom of movement and their emotions, words, actions are also observed to discern whether they are loyal supporters of the Party.
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