Why are people so compliant when clearly this world in "1984" is so miserable?

Expert Answers
ladyvols1 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In Orwell's "1984" the compliance of the people is due to several different reasons.  The people are scared.  The are scared of what will happen if they do not comply.  Punishment for law breaking is harsh.  The people are also brainwashed.  They are trained and re-trained to believe what the Party wants them to believe.  These people have been indoctrinated into the lives they live and there is no way out without severe punishment.  "This is a totalitarian state ruled by a god-like leader named Big Brother who completely controls the citizens down to their very thoughts. Anyone who thinks subversive thoughts can be turned in by spies or by Big Brother, who monitors them through highly sensitive telescreens."  The people even have to be careful what expressions they have on their faces for fear of punishment.  If we lived in a society as harsh as Oceania we too would be compliant.

kboo | Student

The society in 1984 is a totalitarian and dictated environment in which Big Brother is "always watching". However, I cannot come to the conculsion that the citizens do nothing because of fear. The proles were too uneducated and feeble to do anything. They did not realize the strength that they posessed. Where as others may have been apathetic and okay with the society, it was only because they were "trained and programmed" to act that way. Big Brother orchestrated a society were its citizens were "brainwashed". For instance, the children turned their parents into the thought police. We ask why would they do such a thing? To have their own parents vaporized? They do this and do not think twice because they have been taught to idolize Big Brother and his ideals and policies and that is all the Two Minute Hate is, just a way to continue to their "robotic ways"...

jaffar0 | Student

It is very simple, actually. Not only are the people scared, but they are 3 other things as well: 1) They are apathetic. We see this even today, the mentality of "What can I do to change anything? I'm just one person. It is hopeless to even try, because then, I'll die.' 2) They are kept in ignorance. Big Brother has altered the past so much, the people think that this is better than anything else. "After all, look at how much we win in these battles. Look at the numbers of shoes we produce. We are superior to other countries." They have no idea how much better off they'd be if they overthrew Big Brother. 3) The ones who know are in positions of power or dead. Power and Death are good persuasion tactics to keep a person's mouth shut.