What is Orwell's message in 1984?

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Thomas Mccord eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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As other educators have commented, Orwell wrote 1984 as a warning against the dangers of totalitarian governments. With this in mind, it is also worth noting that 1984 highlights the impact of such political regimes on the development of language. Nowhere is this more apparent than in Newspeak, the official language of Oceania. While Newspeak is pure fiction, the idea that politicians use language to influence the public and to further their own agendas is not. In fact, this is an important and often-overlooked theme in 1984

To put this into context, consider Syme's explanation of Newspeak in Part One, Chapter Five. In a conversation with Winston, Syme explains the purpose of Newspeak:

Don't you see that the whole aim of Newspeak is to narrow the range of thought? In the end, we shall make thoughtcrime literally impossible, because there will be no words in which to express it.

In other words, by taking direct control of the English language, the Party intends to manipulate the thoughts of the population. If they cannot express discontent, for example, then it follows that they cannot feel it. The purpose of this is to ensure that rebellion is kept to a minimum, thereby allowing the Party to flourish. 

Orwell uses Newspeak to demonstrate the extremes of thought control but it has an important message for people living under all types of government: that language is instrumental in defining our liberty and freedom and we must never allow those in power to manipulate it. 


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Bruce Bergman eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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As an extension of the points made above, we can look at the ways Orwell depicts life under a totalitarian regime. The de-humanization, constant intimidation and anti-intellectualism that besets every person living in Oceania stands as an inevitable set of symptoms of fascism/totalitarianism in government. 

"Anyone who thinks subversive thoughts can be turned in by spies or by Big Brother, who monitors them through highly sensitive telescreens. If someone does not have the proper facial expression, they...

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pohnpei397 eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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byersk | Student

The message in the book 1984 was that the type of government portrayed will never be a benefit to society.

It takes away all individuality both in people's thinking and actions.  It requires all people to be exactly alike so as to please the government and to stay within the prescribed constucts.  It, also, can creates divisions between people with a sense of insecurity and suspicion.

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