How is conformity enforced in 1984?The Thought Police?

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amy-lepore eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The Thought Police is part of it, but there is so much more.  First, all members of the Party wear a uniform (conformity at its most basic).  They are not permitted to have personal relationships--marriages are not approved if "love" is suspected, children are trained to report on their parents, and sex is not encouraged--thus no close, loving, trust-based relationships exist in the Party.  The frustration that builds in the Party is taken care of in the Two Minutes' Hate, where everyone gets to scream and yell and throw things to release tension.  Deep and meaningful friendships do not exist, either. No one knows where anyone else lives (they see people at work, and they go home.  There is no socialization).  The telescreens have a lot to do with it, as well.  Having a screen in your home which can see and hear you at your every living moment has to be enough to drive a person crazy.  These people were literally scared to death of even talking in their sleep and revealing their true feelings which many of them did, and the Thought Police were on them like honey draws flies.

For people who were born and grew up in this society, it might not be so bad (this is all they ever knew).  However, for people like Winston who have memories of the time before the Party, it is a difficult and nearly impossible adjustment.  The rules were harsh to encourage assimilation and they played on the fear of the unknown-- Room 101 and the Ministry of Love-- to make the people conform.

Hope this helps!

teachersage eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The Thought Police show up only after a thought crime has been committed, but they are nevertheless a potent threat: Winston is well aware as the novel opens that many people simply disappear into the hands of the Thought Police and are vaporized, which means they are treated as if they had never existed.

One's neighbors, coworkers, spouse, and children are all potential spies, and surveillance is everywhere. 

The most important way conformity is enforced, however, is internal. There are no written laws, so no parsing of what is legal or illegal, so anything can be deemed a crime. People simply internalize the idea that any thought that strays outside of absolute conformity with whatever the Party wants at any given moment is forbidden. People live at the level of trying to constantly censor their thoughts without being conscious they are doing so. This is called doublethink. What's significant is that it isn't actions people are trying to self-censor, but thought itself. This is because any illicit thought can betray itself unconsciously through an action, such as a twitch, a facial expression, and/or talking in one's sleep. By the time these actions surface it is too late: a person can assume he or she will be picked up by the Thought Police.

kmj23 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Conformity is enforced in a number of ways in 1984. Firstly, the Thought Police are one method of ensuring conformity because they represent the threat of violence and imprisonment in the Ministry of Love.

Secondly, conformity is enforced through the telescreens. By constantly monitoring the movements and conversations of Party members, the Party ensures that people do exactly as they are told and, therefore, all behave in the same conformist manner. Once again, violence is key here: people behave because they know the penalties for flouting the Party's expectations.

The Party also enforces conformity through the Two Minutes' Hate. During this ritual, everyone expresses their hate against Goldstein in the same manner, in the same location, and at the same time, thereby creating conformity among Party members.

Finally, conformity is also enforced through Newspeak. This language, developed by the Party, is designed to make thoughtcrime impossible and, therefore, ensure the conformity of Party members' thoughts and feelings.