1984 was a novel written by Orwell. Orwell portrayed a totalitarian society in 1984. The society depicted in 1984 is very different as compared to our societies as we are allowed to have full freedom of thought and action only keeping in consideration certain laws that are not oppressive and are for our welfare. The society in 1984 was a society in which, people were required to do in the interest of the government and no freedom was there. The people were just like slaves of the government. This essay contains the analysis of society in George Orwell’s 1984 in detail.
The society as a whole was governed by Big Brother and his made laws were followed by the citizens. In fact, the citizens were made to follow the governmental policies and laws imposed on them. The citizens were not allowed to have any freedom as they were fully controlled by the party that was ruling Oceania at that time of the world that was 1984.
1984 gives the description of a government that is fully oppressive and domineering. The government allows no rights to its citizens and expects them to follow all the governmental laws. The policies designed by the government are totally oppressive and people are not permitted to go against governmental policies. And if people try to go against the governmental policies and laws even in thought, they are dealt harshly and face dire consequences.
The society in 1984 was in the hands of the ruling party. The government was divided into four ministries, which were Ministry of Peace, Ministry of Love, Ministry of Truth, and Ministry of Plenty. All these ministries worked for the government and for the party. They have no interest in the welfare of the citizens. In addition, all of them worked contradictorily to their names such as Ministry of Peace worked for the war purposes, Ministry of Love was for giving punishments to people having a crime of thought and other crimes that were unacceptable to the government, and Ministry of Truth was for the eradication of past history and to establish a new history based on lies. The citizens were made to work for the interests of the government.
The protagonist of the novel 1984 is Winston who is somewhat rebellious unlike other citizens of the society. He disregards the totalitarian laws and regulations and wants to exist beyond them. He commits the thought of crime repeatedly in order to show his rebellious nature. He works in the Ministry of Truth and is responsible for transforming the old truths of the world into lies that are for the welfare and betterment of the government. The government is interested in spreading lies and also works to let its citizens acknowledge that whatever lies they are telling are wholly true. For example, the government spreads the news,
“the party has invented the airplanes” (Orwell 127).
Winston while being at work in the Ministry of Truth ponders over the governmental performances related to its manipulation of people and shows disgust for the truths that are composed by the government. As a seditious act, Winston buys a diary and records the daily information of happenings in the society in order to record the original truth of the year 1984. Winston is aware of the extensively cruel and villainous policies and laws of the government but continues to be reproachful of them. He is aware of the dire consequences of his act, however, he carries on his rebellious thoughts and finds ways to go revolutionary.
The government has fixed telescreens in the residences and working places of people in order to inform people that they are aware of people’s doing and acts. There is also a slogan of the party that is monitored in the streets of the society that is,
“Big Brother is watching you” (Orwell 5).
People live their lives with the belief that they are always being watched by the party and government officials due to which, they restrict themselves to abiding the laws of the government. If anyone tries to avail of even freedom of thought, he is punished severely. Even though is a crime if it is kept against the government. The criminal of thought is taken to the Ministry of Love where he is reprimanded and punished severely on the basis of his thought crime. The citizens in 1984 live under a threat of an authority who is always ready to punish the residents of society on the basis of their disobedience.
The relationship between the government and people is like a relationship between master and slave. The government makes people do what it requires from them. The government has also developed its own language that is called Newspeak. It is a transformed version of the language and people are required to use this language. Newspeak restricts people in terms of thought and spoken words. The government makes sure that people speak and think in the interest of the government due to which, it has developed a new restrictive language for its citizens. Sym who is Winston’s colleague in the Ministry of Truth emphasizes Newspeak as a language that
“is to narrow the range of thought” (Orwell 46).
Therefore, Newspeak is also a strategy adopted by the party to control people.
The government has made a police force with the name of thought police that keeps a close eye to the activities of people and their thoughts. The society in 1984 is an established and well-developed society but the tools of development are not employed by the citizens and are also not used by the government for the welfare of the citizens but are employed by the government and for the government. The technological tools are employed for keeping an oppressive control over the citizens such as telescreens and other mind-reading tools. The citizens of the society of Oceania are deprived of any freedom whether it is freedom of action or freedom of thought. They have to think and do as the government wants them.
Winston is involved in thought crime due to which, he is rehabilitated and tormented to a great extent. He is caught by means of a trap. The people who he believes to be true and thoughtful like him betray him and support the government in trapping him further. O’Brien, who is considered a revolutionary by Winston, is a governmental official and after knowing Winston’s thoughts against the government takes him to the ministry of Love along with other thought police force. Winston undergoes a total brainwash rehabilitation after which, he becomes to acknowledge the government as the government wants. If the governmental officials find anyone working against the government, they keep a frightful punishment for him and express it as,
“You will be hollow. We shall squeeze you empty and then we shall fill you with ourselves” (Orwell 200).
Therefore, it is quite explicit that the government wants to control its citizens at all costs.
The government not only punished the people physically but also psychologically as their existence was removed by means of eradicating their records from the governmental registers. The government erased the memories of people whom it considered defaulters like the old truths that it erased. When the people are arrested on the basis of any crime, the governmental officials did not record the arrest by means of any trail or arrest report as it is said,
“there was no trail no report of arrest” (Orwell 19).
Hence, it is quite clear the society in Orwell’s 1984 was a society in which, people were deprived of all their rights and the government exercised all its control on people. The people were governed not only by means of physical power but also mentally. People were not allowed to have any kind of freedom whether it is physical freedom or thinking freedom. The citizens of the society were like slaves to the government as they did what they were asked for and if they tried to do their own way, they were reprimanded and punished harshly.
Orwell, George. 1984. New York: The New American Library, 1961.