What are they working on during "Hate Week" in 1984 and what is its purpose?

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1984 by George Orwell is a dystopian novel set in the fictional nation of Oceania. As the name suggests, Hate Week is a week long event with festivities, speeches, propaganda, and exhibitions all aimed at instilling fear and fomenting hate in the citizens of Oceania towards the nation’s enemies. Orwell makes it clear through his use of satire that he deplores Hate Week and what it represents. In some ways, he almost likens it to Nazi activities and festivities around their military during World War II. For instance, the preparations for Hate Week include organizing military parades, building effigies, circulating rumors, and faking photographs.

These are descriptions that conjure up images of Nazis goose-stepping through the streets of Berlin en route to their Propaganda Ministry, which would circulate the propaganda and hate posters of the various enemies of the state and even produce films in support of Nazi plans. In fact, Orwell explains,

Julia's unit in the Fiction Department had been taken off the production of novels and was rushing out a series of atrocity pamphlets.

By “a series of atrocity pamphlets,” the author implies a double meaning of the word “atrocity.” The posters would undoubtedly convey the atrocities that Oceania’s enemies commit and are likely to commit in the future. In addition, the use of the word also suggests Orwell’s view of the posters and other propaganda as atrocious.

At one point, Orwell discusses the musical element of Hate Week:

The new tune which was to be the theme-song of Hate Week (the Hate Song, it was called) had already been composed and was being endlessly plugged on the telescreens. It had a savage, barking rhythm which could not exactly be called music, but resembled the beating of a drum.

His use of the words “savage,” “barking,” and “beating” conveys his views of Hate Week and the supporting propaganda and jingoes that accompany it.

Ironically, after all the preparation for Hate Week, in which the focus will be Oceania’s enemy Eurasia and when “and the general hatred of Eurasia had boiled up into such delirium,” it turns out that

“Oceania was not after all at war with Eurasia. Oceania was at war with Eastasia. Eurasia was an ally.”

Orwell uses satire here to mock Oceania and the fomenting of anti-Eurasia sentiment. He notes the easily fickle political winds that can change within the span of a Hate Week to make a former enemy an ally and a former ally an enemy.

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Hate Week channels the aggressions that build up in people because of their miserable lives and directs them toward an enemy that is not the state. Hate Week provides an emotional release and validates hate as an emotion. The preparations also keep people busy around the clock, so that their entire lives are focused on the state.

As Orwell writes:

Working hours had been drastically increased in anticipation of Hate Week. It was more than a month distant, but the enormous, complex preparations that it entailed were throwing extra work on to everybody.

In the above quote, we are told how much time and effort Hate Week absorbs. People don't have leftover space for a personal life or even personal thoughts when they are devoting all their energy to preparations for this event:  

The preparations for Hate Week were in full swing, and the staffs of all the Ministries were working overtime. Processions, meetings, military parades, lectures, waxworks, displays, film shows, telescreen programmes all had to be organized; stands had to be erected, effigies built, slogans coined, songs written, rumours circulated, photographs faked. Julia’s unit in the Fiction Department had been taken off the production of novels and was rushing out a series of atrocity pamphlets.

In the quote above, we see the details of all the resources put into this event, resources that might logically be spent on bettering people's lives. But as we later find out, the state wants to make sure resources are squandered on anything but improving the material status of the people. The Hate Weeks are the culmination of a vicious circle in which people are made angry because of all the sordid deprivations they endure, deprivations in part caused by the devotion of so many resources to Hate Week.

We see how wholly manufactured Hate Week is when the enemy being hated changes near the end of the week. The point is not to have a particular enemy, but to have the experience of hate itself. The target is completely unimportant. We see here too how much power the state has: people hate who they are told to without thinking.

On the sixth day of Hate Week, after the processions, the speeches, the shouting, the singing, the banners, the posters, the films, the waxworks, the rolling of drums and squealing of trumpets, the tramp of marching feet, the grinding of the caterpillars of tanks, the roar of massed planes, the booming of guns—after six days of this, when the great orgasm was quivering to its climax and the general hatred of Eurasia had boiled up into such delirium that if the crowd could have got their hands on the 2,000 Eurasian war-criminals who were to be publicly hanged on the last day of the proceedings, they would unquestionably have torn them to pieces—at just this moment it had been announced that Oceania was not after all at war with Eurasia.

When people realize they have a new enemy, they simply determine that the posters and banners naming the enemy as Eurasia are works of sabotage. They then direct their aggressions towards destroying the suddenly "false" banners. This shows how easily people are manipulated. 



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Hate Week is another one of the methods used by the Party to direct the people's feelings of anger, frustration, and hatred towards a common enemy - in this case initially their warring enemy of Eurasia.

"The new tune which was to be the theme-song of Hate Week (the Hate Song it was called) had already been composed...."    (p.155). Music can be a very powerful medium to convey ideas and spark emotions, and the Party is using a theme song to rally the people of Airstrip One.

"Squads of volunteers... were preparing the streets for Hate Week, stitching banners, painting posters, erecting flagstaffs on the roofs..." (p. 155). Visual imagery is being used by the Party to enforce the significance of the event and to further swamp the senses of the populace. It is all about making Hate Week impossible to ignore.

"As though to harmonise with the general mood, the rocket bombs had been killing larger numbers of people than usual" (p.156). The reader may infer that the Party is actually behind the bombings rather than Eurasia. The Party would inflict such suffering on its own people for the sake of creating fear and anxiety which inevitably leads to anger, hatred and violence againt a perceived enemy.  

Hate Week in general would have the effect of directing people's focus of their hardships and suffering in daily life onto a common enemy (who is largely unseen). This is of course to the Party's advantage. 



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