1984: The Devices To Manipulate Society
1984 is a dystopian novel written by George Orwell. It is the best and the most terrifying novel as it shows a future in which government controls the whole population with technology and reprogramming of their minds. The novel shows what horrifying deeds individuals will do when given too much power. Orwell’s 1984 is filled with many iconic phrases and ideas, perhaps the most famous is the frightening political slogan “Big Brother is watching you” (Orwell 3), which created a voyeuristic feeling into a person’s most inner thoughts. But, the scariest concept presented in the novel is the methods of shaping human consciousness by the Party. So, the aim of this paper is to present the methods of shaping human consciousness in Orwell’s 1984.
1984 is a dystopia about a population of Oceania being constantly under surveillance by technology guided by the Party. However, the most gruesome methods of control used by the arty are not the technological tools, but the psychological methods which not only control the citizens but also teach them to regulate themselves. The Party uses force and brainwashing to make sure everyone is kept in line. Anyone who tries to live by their own rules is labeled as a traitor and is immediately punished. The Party uses technology is scary and effective ways, the most notable piece of technology that is used for controlling is the telescreen, a two-way television that watches you as you watch it. Telescreens represent the idea that Big Brother, a representation of the Party’s power and authority, is always watching. Even the most day-to-day activities are monitored by the telescreens, which must remain on at all times. Another terrifying piece of technology used by the Party is vaporizing, a weapon that the Party uses to executes those who displease them.
“Your name was removed from the registers, every record of everything you had ever done was wiped out, your one-time existence was denied and then forgotten. You were abolished, annihilated: VAPORIZED was the usual word. ” (Orwell 12)
People, that the government deems are traitors or they are displeased with, will be vaporized, erased from existing.
However, despite the ever-present telescreens and the terror of vaporizing, the most powerful and brutal methods of control turn out to be the psychological mind games that the Party uses to keep the citizens of Oceania under control. Some of the psychological methods are posters announcing the ever-presence of Big Brother; mandatory Two Minutes of Hate meetings that rile up the people allowing them to express their hateful emotions and xenophobia; public hangings that make examples out of traitors and lastly Junior Spies that hand in any adults they feel are not sufficiently devoted to the Party, having no regards of blood relations. These methods rely on psychological manipulation that produces terror, paranoia, groupthink, and suspicion which keeps the population submissive and obedient. The result of the psychological tactics is that the citizens are constantly policing themselves in order to avoid being punished by the Party. The most efficient method of control is the manipulation of the Thought police. Citizens of Oceania are programmed from birth that even their thoughts are monitored and that any independent thought is grounds for their arrest or vaporizing by the Thought Police. Citizens of Oceania have been conditioned to accept whatever the Party says is the truth, they are able to use doublethink, a method of believing absurd contradictions such as “WAR IS PEACE / FREEDOM IS SLAVERY/ IGNORANCE IS STRENGTH.” (Orwell 17)
To sum up, the Party maintains control primarily through the use of psychology, not technology. The Party does not have a need for technology to control and manipulate, but they use it to spread fear and make citizens paranoid of always being under the scrutiny of the watchful eye of Big Brother. As Orwell says „Until they become conscious they will never rebel, and until after they have rebelled they cannot become conscious.” (Orwell 40), citizens are programmed to be just a mindless heard that the Party can control to be and do anything it needs. The main idea of the novel is that the human mind is the most dangerous and advanced weapon and that we should never underestimate the ability of people to control each other and themselves.