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The introduction of the novel Nineteen Eighty-Four says it all. It cannot be denied that control is present in the society. A few sentences in the first paragraph: “On each landing, opposite the lift shaft, the poster with the enormous face gazed from the wall. It was one of those pictures which are so contrived that the eyes follow you about when you move. BIG BROTHER IS WATCHING YOU, the caption beneath it ran (Orwell 2). ” How do you feel when you keep being reminded that someone is looking after you? Or, to be more politically correct, having you under surveillance?
The introduction of the book is about Winston Smith who gets inside his London apartment.
The tone of the introductory sentences is depressing and dark. The living conditions are undeniably squalid. In this part, it was clear that Oceania, Eurasia and Eastasia are the three superpowers that divide the world into pieces. Oceania is where Winston Smith came from (Orwell 1). These superpowers are never in good terms with each other.
Because of the wartime conditions that seem constant in the environment and the nature of the countries, the people of Oceania are always repressed.
The conditions brought about by war caused the government of Oceania to let its people suffer through repression. The people are always monitored. Surveillance is as common as eating. The party members, however, are not always given enough supply. There is also a private rebellion taking place because the government was no longer humane. In this private rebellion, Winston Smith is a member of the Outer Party.
Winston is writing in his diary every single day. Because this decision is crucial, he accepted that what goes with private rebellion is doing some forbidden steps.
He has to do forbidden steps because he is serving a party that he did not want to serve (Orwell 2). He buys the diary which was part of the things confiscated during a raid into the proletariats. He meets a young lady outside the shop where he purchased the diary, and he noticed that it is the same girl who keeps on eyeing at him for a few days. Because Winston started feeling that he should be there, and because he felt that the woman was spying on him, he immediately tries to stay away from her (Orwell 2). With this introduction, it clearly shows how totalitarianism has ruled the world.
Nineteen Eight-Four is a novel that shows negative utopia. It cannot be denied that totalitarianism was at its most rigid. Totalitarianism was the kind of power used to execute total control of the people (Ellis and Reed, 2008). Orwell had been successful in representing control, in which he introduced through an entity referred to as Big Brother. This has four branches. One is called the Ministry of Love, in which law enforcement is done. The other is called Ministry of Plenty, where economic affairs and issues are handled.
The Ministry of Peace is what takes charge of the war taking place in the country and around the world. The Ministry of Truth is the one that manages the dissemination of propaganda. Without the Ministry of Truth, the printed materials and other things needed for administering propaganda won’t be equally distributed. These four ministries make up the government (Ellis and Reed 2). Meanwhile, Winston Smith does not conform to this ideology. This idea is spoon-fed to him, with the concept of Big Brother being used.
The government is feeding him with unnecessary things and ideas that he, himself, knows he does not need. Going back to the life of George Orwell, it can be seen that he reflects the character in his novel. George Orwell, like Winston Smith, has the same aesthetic and social characteristics. They both have the same political perceptions. This may be the reason why the novel is undeniably an excellent one, because he could write it as easily as writing his own thoughts, beliefs and feelings. He wrote excellently the representation of control in just simple paragraphs like:
“Behind Winston’s back the voice from the telescreen was still babbling away about pig-iron and the overfulfilment of the Ninth Three-Year Plan. The telescreen received and transmitted simultaneously. Any sound that Winston made, above the level of a very low whisper, would be picked up by it, moreover, so long as he remained within the field of vision which the metal plaque commanded, he could be seen as well as heard (Orwell 8). ” In the novel, there was clearly no way of being aware about how an individual is being watched. If an individual had to make a sound, someone will always hear it.
If an individual is in the dark, then he or she can be safe. But if it is bright out there, then there is no chance that the movement of the individual is monitored and fully observed (Orwell 8). The practice of control as a way of administering power was done through television surveillance in the novel. Security cameras are everywhere. Just about any spot, a speed camera will be seen. The citizens were disturbed, and especially Winston Smith, because the people were not free and they were no longer happy with their lives of what the government was doing to them.
In a more physical point of view, George Orwell wrote the following to give the audience a better picture of how the government, in the novel, had controlled and repressed the people (Ellis and Reed 2). The political perceptions of George Orwell are shown through Winston Smith. Aside from Orwell’s perception of politics, he also showed his disbelief, or skepticism, rather, of mass media, through the character of Winston Smith. It is no surprise that George Orwell was skeptic of the media because he has spent some of his time working for BBC, also known as the British Broadcasting Company.
By working for BBC, he was able to see how information was distorted before it is distributed to the public (Ellis and Reed 2). The information they got were not presented as is on television. He was aware as he witnessed how propaganda was distorted. Because of his experience in working for a mass media outfit, he knew that whatever the public was getting from the television, the radio and the newspapers were not at all completely true (Ellis and Reed 2). Other information and important facts were omitted before news is aired.
Now, he came up with the novel to let the public know what is happening behind authorities, and how much control is being executed before the public gets what it gets (Ellis and Reed 2). Control, in this novel, is clearly represented because it does not state that control is destroying the society just because it is there. The novel Nineteen Eighty-Four clearly suggests that the government, or the state as a whole, is there to manipulate everything. Individuals in the society are being controlled by the state, and control is employed on the information being released to the public.
In the novel, the “telescreen” is a constant object. The telescreen, in the novel, is a tool for control. Everyone needs to have a telescreen. It is a dominant item in any household in London, especially in Airstrip One, the capital city, which used to be referred to as England. Aside from the telescreen, other ways are used to employ power and a quote from the book is here to show it, “There will be no love, except the love of BIG BROTHER. There will be no laughter, except the laugh of triumph over a defeated enemy.
There will be no art, no literature, no science. There will be no distinction between beauty and ugliness. There will be no curiosity, no enjoyment of the process of life” (Orwell 238). Indeed, the state, just like in today’s society, aims to reshape the minds of the people. Whatever is happening in the novel of George Orwell does not end there. It continues and is widely seen in our society today. Out society, through the television, convert our minds into what the government or the media thinks we should think about.
The theories of mass media are there to help us understand that for the media to sell, they need to create something interesting for our eyes. We need to see controversies. With all these, we learn to create our sides. Creating our sides is never pure anymore because even before we learn to form our opinion, the media and the state already manipulates the information given to use. The tools we use to shape our minds when it comes to our thoughts on the elections, the issues on war and terror, and economic crisis, are shaped by a higher power by using control.
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