George Orwell and Margaret Atwood are two writers famous for their politically themed books. Atwood is famous for her feminist views and Atwood for his political satires. In Orwell’s 1984 and Attwood’s The Hand Maid’s Tale both authors use the theme of control as one of the main ideas. These ideas which run throughout the books help the reader learn about how the governments of these dystopiain societies keep and gain control over it’s population. One of the main aspects of control that both authors highlight is that of communication. In 1984, communication is controlled through the Party’s domination of language and all media outlets.
The newspapers, TV and radio stations are all controlled by INGSOC. By owning and controlling the entire media the Party can expose the population to its intense use of propaganda. This use of propaganda influences the Party member’s ideas. The Party uses the TV to report news of its wars. It also changes the paper’s and TV reports to match what they want its members to think. They change facts placed in newspaper to match with what they are saying currently “copies which have been rewritten a dozen times still stood on the files bearing its original date, and no other copy existed to contradict it. ”
This shows clear evidence of the Party’s control of the media and facts here. However the most important consequence of all this manipulation and control of the past is mainly that history is completely modified. For example, in 1984, Winston relays to the reader that the Party broadcasts that Oceania is at war with Eurasia and in alliance with Eastasia. However, as Winston well knew; it was only four years since Oceania had been at war with Eastasia and in alliance with Eurasia. But that was a piece of furtive knowledge which he happened to posses because his memory was not satisfactorily under control.
It was also not true, for example, as was claimed by the Party that they themselves had invented aeroplanes. He remembered aeroplane’s since his earliest childhood. But you could prove anything since there was never any evidence. This form of control brainwashes its members into thinking along the same lines as the Party. It is very effective and helps the Party sustain their control. The tight scrutiny the Party places on the media can be paralleled in Margaret Attwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale.
The media outlets are also strictly regulated by the Gileadian government. The Gilead government enforces a strict control of censorship and propaganda based on the bible. Any information the population of Gilead receive is unreliable. This can be seen through Serena Joy who is watching the news channel before the ceremony takes place. In the same way that Big brother in 1984 controls what the members believe to be true the Gilead government control what the population think. However it is not as extreme in Gilead as it in Oceania.
In Oceania when Big Brother tell its members something they are expected to believe it is true, and do believe its true, The republic of Gilead do not do so that intensely. The Party’s main propaganda figure that controls everything is the idea of Big Brother. He is supposed to be the head of the government in Oceania, but as it is revealed through out the novel we can see that he is not real, he is just one more element to control everything. Big brother is an idea used to enforce the fact that the Party members do not control anything. Big Brother can always see them.
” He took a twenty-five cent piece out of his pocket. ….. and on the other face of the coin the head of Big Brother. Even from the coins the eyes pursued you. On coins, on stamps, on the covers of the books, on banners, on posters and on the wrapping of a cigarette packet- everywhere. Asleep or awake, working or eating indoors or out of doors, in the bath or in bed-no escape. Nothing was your own to control except the few cubic centimetres inside your skull. ” Winston himself is concerned with this manipulation and control but he fails to realize that he is a main element in helping carry out this manipulation.
Winston ,through his work in the ironically titled Ministry Of Truth, changes the facts and figures for the Party and helps them keep thier control over the population. The idea of control via a figure, Big brother, always watching you is very similar in The Handmaid’s Tale, where we are told of the Eyes who are watching you constantly. The Eyes of God are Gilead’s secret police. They represent the eternal watchfulness of God and the totalitarian state. This can be shown through their symbol – a winged eye.
They create power and fear by people not knowing whether they will be caught and sent to be Unwomen. In Gilead’s theocracy, the eye of God and of the state are assumed to be one and the same. The main difference between the two however is that in 1984 Big brother is never seen and is thought to be a person created by paranoia as in Gilead the characters sees the eyes in their everyday life. The Party’s control, in 1984, of people’s mind can further be highlighted through Winston’s frustration by the impossibility of knowing what is and what is not a lie.