‘Big Brother’ is a fictional character in George Orwell’s dystopian novel 1984. He is the mysterious dictator of Oceania. The citizens of Oceania are under continuous surveillance by the authorities of the totalitarian regime by the means of advanced gadgets called telescreens. They are continuously reminded of the fact that ‘Big Brother is watching you’. However, the reality of this character is to be doubted and Orwell by a strategic use of language makes his existence an extremely ambiguous one.
On the one hand he “figured as the leader and guardian of the Revolution since its very earliest days. His exploits had been gradually pushed backwards in time until already they extended into the fabulous world of the forties and the thirties”. On the other, as the protagonist observes he was first mentioned in the political scenario in the sixties and interestingly in the year 1984, he appears to be a handsome man of forty-four. All these serve only to raise questions about the actuality of the Big Brother.
However, when O’Brien says that Big Brother can never die, and the book apparently written by the rebel Emanuel Goldstein states: “nobody has ever seen Big Brother. He is a face on the hoardings, a voice on the telescreen… Big Brother is the guise in which the Party chooses to exhibit itself to the world. His function is to act as a focusing point for love, fear, and reverence, emotions, which are more easily felt towards an individual than towards an organization…” one realizes the truth about this character.
Like everything else in the totalitarian regime Big Brother is nothing but a construct of Newspeak. Newspeak, the language devised by the Party to manipulate and control the psychology of the masses, plays an intrinsic role in the presentation of Big Brother as a benevolent leader, loved and revered, who protects the citizen from the big bad outside world.
Just like Newspeak, Big Brother too, is a mind-control tool used to mask the truth, mislead and deceive people and lead them into accepting the party propaganda as the absolute truth. In this sense, Newspeak and Big Brother has similar functions in the structuring of the similar state and complements each other in reality. Works Cited Orwell, George. Nineteen Eighty-Four. London: Penguin Books, 1990.
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Topic: Big Brother Is Watching You!
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