The Party in 1984

The importance of literary works cannot be gainsaid as far as the
growth and development of any society is concerned. This is especially
considering that literary works are primarily based on the ideas of
their authors about the societies in which they live. More often than
not, literary works are crafted in an effort to criticize the ills of
the society and the aspects that cause these societies to lag behind. On
the same note, the authors, poets, playwrights or artists often aim at
planting ideas in the minds of their audience as to how things should be
done in an ideal world. It is, therefore, no wonder that literary works
have been the basis for varied social changes in different parts of the
world. Needless to say, different composers have known varying degrees
of success, with some of them attaining the aspect of being somewhat
immortal as their works continue to be relevant in different
generations. Of course, the topics for such literary works can range
from love, revenge, romance and even politics. While varied authors have
crafted timeless literary works, George Orwell arguably comes as the
best among the 20th century writers. This is especially with his book
1984, a novel that depicts the story of Dystopia where a hierarchical
system called “Big Brother”, alongside The Party control and
represses all people in complete despotism. While the effectiveness of
The Party in maintaining control may be credited to varied things,
surveillance and propaganda remain to be the source of its strength and
effectiveness.
Set in dystopia, 1984 revolves around the life of a young man named
Winston Smith who is fighting against the oppression of the state in
Oceania, a place in which the Party undertakes the examination and
scrutiny of every person’s actions at any given time using the
ever-watchful Big-Brother. Winston dares to show his opinions in a diary
and goes ahead to pursue an affair with a brunette called Julia. This
defiance of a ban on individuality is considered a criminal deed, which
can attract the wrath of the state. Of particular note is the fact that
the Big Brother, in particular, enforces complete control over the
privacy and thoughts of individuals though the placement of microphones
and cameras in every place ad punishing all people who attempt to
challenge The Party or Big Brother, or even have contrary thoughts
(Orwell, 1990). The antagonists, in this case are The Party, Big
Brother, as well as O`Brian who works in the Ministry of Love for the
big Brother and who couples up as a member of the inner party. After
learning of the rebellion of Julia and Winston, O`Brian sets a trap for
them within a period of seven years and ultimately manages to break both
of them.
The Party is extremely dependent on the media as the latter is an
extremely powerful manipulation tool thanks to the wide exposure of the
public to it and even the trust that the public places on it. The media
pedals a number of lies in order to confuse the public. For instance, it
continually makes reference to the Ministry of Truth, Peace Love and
Plenty, whereas these are separate ministries. Indeed, the Ministry of
Love comes across as “the really frightening one” as it is the place
where suspected criminals are questioned and tortured (Orwell, 1990).
The Ministry of Peace concerns itself with warfare, while the Ministry
of Truth undertakes the falsification of records. The Ministry of Plenty
cooks up some economic figures that would convince the public about the
health of the economy although there exists enormous shortages of almost
every other necessary commodity thanks to the war (Orwell, 1990). While
the titles may be blatantly ironical, the writer underlines the manner
in which the media may be used to suppress opposition through filtering
information. The Party knows that a dissatisfied public may rebel
against it, in which case it diverts the attention of the public from
the negative aspects of warfare using the media. The media only uses
language that has positive or neutral connotations when making any
references to the ware, thereby succeeding in soothing a public that is
otherwise resentful. A case in point is the fact that the media does not
report that 20 or 30 bombs are falling in London every week, rather it
brings good news about victories. The telescreens state “Our forces in
South India have won a glorious victory. I am authorised to say that the
action we are now reporting may well bring the war within measurable
distance of its end” (Orwell, 1990). Indeed, at no one time does the
media report on any defeat, rather it only gives stories on the conquest
of new territories and the capture of enemies. The constant repetition
of information is believed to brainwash individuals into believing it
and accepting it as the truth.
On the same note, the media undertakes the constant alteration of the
“past” using language, thereby giving The Party ultimate control
over history. This is especially considering that language connects
individuals to history. Winston’s work at the Ministry of Truth
revolves around the alteration of news items and any other document that
would portray The Party in a bad light. Upon the replacement of the
original document with the altered ones, all original documents would be
destroyed, thereby erasing any evidence as to what happened in the past.
This process was not only applied to the newspapers but also to
leaflets, posters, periodicals and pamphlets, bringing the past up to
date (Orwell, 1990). This allowed for every prediction that the Party
made to be supported by documentary evidence as correct, with any news
item that conflicted with the current needs being expunged from record.
This essentially cripples the growth of opposition. Underlining the
effectiveness of the technique is the fact that Winston, who has been at
the center of the falsification of documents finds it difficult to
recall who Oceania is fighting with. He is not sure whether the country
is Eastasia or Eurasia as The Party constantly changes history (Orwell,
1990). Of particular note is the fact that the nagging doubt weighs in
on Winston to the point that he does not know what the reality is
anymore. Indeed, Winston is willing to take in the reality presented by
the Party by the end of the novel. In addition, Winston undertakes the
invention of a biography of a fictional soldier called Ogilvy, who would
then be honored by the Big Brother in public. Upon completing the
description of the life of Ogilvy, Winston is in awe about the
possibility that “once the act of forgery [is] forgotten, [Ogilvy
will] exist just as authentically, and upon the same evidence, as
Charlemagne or Julius Caesar” (Orwell, 1990).
In addition, The Party uses constant surveillance to ensure that all
people’s activities are known, as well as keep all people intimidated.
A case in point is the fact that Winston and Julia have to meet in
places where they think they would not be under surveillance. Of
particular note is the union between Julia and Winston plants seeds of
dissent in Winston, upon which he starts questioning some aspects of the
government. Unfortunately, the places were also under surveillance, in
which case the two are caught and tortured after O`Brian sets a trap for
them. The two are seized by the Thought Police and taken to the Ministry
of Love, where they would be tortured and interrogated, before being
“reintegrated” and ultimately executed. Winston is taken to Room
101, where he is forced to confront his greatest fear rats (Orwell,
1990). The thought of having his face chewed breaks him and gets him
reverted to a happy member of The Party. Indeed, Winston, upon his
release deeply loves The Party. Their later meeting with Julia is filled
with apathy towards each other, a point that marks the conversion and
destruction of Europe’s last thread of opposition.
In conclusion, 1984 revolves around the life of a young man named
Winston Smith who is fighting against the oppression of the state in
Oceania, a place in which the Party undertakes the examination and
scrutiny of every person’s actions at any given time using the
ever-watchful Big-Brother. While the effectiveness of The Party in
maintaining control may be credited to varied things, surveillance and
propaganda remain to be the source of its strength and effectiveness.
The media is used in providing the public falsified information about
the state of affairs and even give distorted accounts of history thereby
propelling the attractiveness of The Party to the people. In addition,
all people are kept under surveillance, thereby curtailing any thoughts
of opposition through intimidation. Any opposition is met with harsh
penalties and punishments, as was the case for Julia and Winston, who
eventually are broken to the point of pledging allegiance to The Party.
References
Orwell, G (1990). Nineteen Eighty-Four. London: Penguin Books
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