In George Orwell's 1984, what are the four government ministries that control the world of Big Brother?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

In George Orwell’s 1949 novel of a dystopian society ruled by “Big Brother,” 1984, the four government ministries to which the story refers are the Ministries of Truth, Love, Peace, and Plenty.  As described by Orwell, the Ministry of Truth is responsible for education, entertainment, fine arts and the news.  In other words, it is the government department most responsible for the dissemination of propaganda and for the indoctrination of the populace.  In short, it is responsible mind-control.  The Ministry of Love is responsible for maintaining law and order; the Ministry of Peace, in the novel’s most noteworthy example of double-speak, is concerned with war; and the Ministry of Plenty is responsible for the economy.  Because of its central role in maintaining government control over the population, the Ministry of Truth is particularly large, consisting, Orwell writes, of “three thousand rooms above ground level, and corresponding ramifications below.”  While the Ministry of Truth is the most expansive of the government departments, however, Orwell notes that it is the Ministry of Love that is “the really frightening one.”  Orwell describes this particular ministry as an armed fortress surrounded by “barbed-wire entanglements, steel doors, and hidden machine-gun nests.”  With its responsibility for maintaining order, the Ministry of Love is clearly the place where detentions and punishments for perceived infractions are carried out.  

The Ministry of Plenty, consistent with the obvious paradox between the names of the other ministries and their real function, administered rations of goods for the population, as when it had

“issued a promise (a ‘categorical pledge’ were the official words) that there would be no reduction of the chocolate ration during 1984.  Actually, as Winston was aware, the chocolate ration was to be reduced from thirty grammes to twenty at the end of the week.”

In Orwell’s 1984, each ministry acts in strict accordance with Party mandates, and each is a central apparatus in the continuing repression of the population of Oceania.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
Soaring plane image

We’ll help your grades soar

Start your 48-hour free trial and unlock all the summaries, Q&A, and analyses you need to get better grades now.

  • 30,000+ book summaries
  • 20% study tools discount
  • Ad-free content
  • PDF downloads
  • 300,000+ answers
  • 5-star customer support
Start your 48-Hour Free Trial