Reality Control in Novel "1984" by George Orwell

Categories: Dystopia

Today, in society, people absorb thousands of information daily. The majority get these pieces of information from news and social media, but have they ever think about are such information is trustworthy or not? Does the government purposely release that information to manipulate the citizens in some kind of way, such as mind control? As time goes by, will the citizens become dependent on everything the government says? In the dystopian novel, “1984” by George Orwell has written in 1948, it describes a society that has hidden camera and microphone everywhere, that citizens are not allowed to have a free mind to think.

Therefore, if they get caught of thinking other stuff except loving the party, they will become a thought-criminal and must be taken away to be brainwash before they get executed. By utilizing reality control such as media control, physical and mental torture and changing the reality, the government will eventually achieve their goal, to gain an absolute power to overcontrol the citizens without them noticing.

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Media control has a civilizing influence on those people who read certain things continuously and the transition is imperceptible. In “1984”, the government uses newspaper, media, and endless broadcast to deliver propaganda messages. On page 16, Orwell stated, “But the face of Big Brother seemed to persist for several seconds on the screen, as though the impact that it had made on everyone’s eyeballs was too vivid to wear off immediately…. A woman with a tremulous murmur that sound like‘My Saviour!’ she extended her arms towards the screen.

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Then she buried her face in her hands. It was apparent that she was uttering a prayer.” This scene happened in the Two Minutes of Hate and it is an event that everyone is required to attend, if they don’t, the government would assure they don’t love Big Brother and arrest them. In Oceania, independent thoughts are not allowed everyone must follow and think what the government wants them to think. When citizens are yelling and crying in the meeting, the regime of it is manipulating their emotions and control their minds imperceptibly. Moreover, the regime of Newspeak distorts the language, leading to there are limits in vocabulary. Therefore, people will not be able to express themselves. If they can’t do such a thing, they will give up on it and follow what the majority says. In the end, they will become a puppet, listening and accepting everything that the government says. Connect to modern society, Fox News has always been propaganda about lots of political purposes. According to the article “How Fox News evolved into a propaganda operation” by Sean Illing, there are lots of evidence to support this statement, but the most obvious one is “Trump constantly watches Fox News, tweets out claims he hears on the network, reportedly speaks regularly with Sean Hannity, and gives the majority of his interviews to Fox News. World leaders as well as members of Congress quickly learned that one of the best ways to communicate a message to Trump is to say it on Fox News.” It shows that both sides are working with each other and it is dangerous to allow the most popular cable news network in the U.S to become a mouthpiece for an administration. It effectively manipulates the audiences’ thought and expectation from journalism. This act will make people difficult to process critical thinking and determine what is true and false. Eventually, they will be blindfolded by the media. The media suppose to cultivates people’s ability to notice others other than themselves. However, not only it can influence their perception of reality, but also shape their state of mind. Unfortunately, Fox News has not archived such a function but controlling audiences’ thought, instead, they cleverly utilize various techniques, the ability to create media and fragmented messages to affect the mood of the masses, which leads the audiences being too focused on an event. As a result, it will be impossible to promote ideas and knowledge to people, as this information cannot be delivered, people will stop thinking and be dependent on everything the media said.

Physical and mental torture is another way for a government to control people and sadly, it is the most direct way to archive the purpose of reality control. In the book “1984”, Winston was taken away to the room that consists of everyone’s greatest fear— Room 101. On page 240, Orwell stated, “there were times when he[Winston] rolled about the floor, as shameless as an animal, writhing his body this way and that in an endless, hopeless effort to dodge the kicks, and simply inviting more and yet more kicks, in his ribs, in his belly...when every word had to be forced out of him between gasps of pain, and there were times when he feebly tried to compromise, when he said to himself: ‘I will confess, but not yet. I must hold out till the pain becomes unbearable.” It shows O’Brien directs the torture and interrogation of Winston. Prolonged torture has the ability to influence Winston to do anything. Eventually, the threat of torture is sufficient to make him do anything. Winston’s transition from a rebellion to a member who loves Big Brother has three states, learning, understanding and accepting. For Winston, the first state is physical torture and insult, he had been accused by O’Brien and the purpose is to make him lose the ability to defend himself because of humiliation. The next state, he has to learn to understand Big Brother, and O’Brien told him rebellion will never succeed because the party has the absolute power to control the Oceania citizens. There is one thing that makes it interesting, in the first two states, no matter how O’Brien had tortured and threatened him, he still did not betray Julia. However, in the final state, when he was being brought to Room 101 to face his greatest fear— rats, he betrayed her. Winston has been through three states, and he as a human, has broken in into pieces, then rebuild according to the party’s standard and value. Finally, when he met Julia again, he realized she betrayed him too, but the most important thing is he learned: Big Brother can conquer everything, even love. Connected to modern society, the concentration camp in China consists of the same problem too. In the article “Ex-Detainee Describes Torture In China's Xinjiang Re-Education Camp” by Rob Schmitz, he interviews an ex-detainee to share his experience in there, describe how Muslim is being treated in the camp, they are being tortured and brainwashed about their religion is wrong and they need to be committed to the China government. The person who was being interviewed called Kayrat Samarkand says he was locked up in the camp in Xinjiang for months and being tortured, “they made me wear what they called 'iron clothes,' a suit made of metal that weighed over 50 pounds. ... They made people wear this thing to break their spirits. After 12 hours, I became so soft, quiet and lawful… It forced my arms and legs into an outstretched position. I couldn't move at all, and my back was in terrible pain.” The experience he been through is similar to Winston, both governments use torture to force citizens to commit to them. China has detained as many as 1 million Muslim in the concentration camp and force them to undergo psychological indoctrination program such as studying communist propaganda and give thanks to the Chinese president. The Chinese authorities have also reportedly used other forms of torture on the ethnic minority. The government can use their power to make citizens commit to them and it is inhuman, citizens are scared to be tortured by the government and it could bring a negative influence to society, such as losing faith on government and the country will be fully controlled by those has power.

Editing the history contents is an excessive way to control reality yet many governments are still using it. In the book “1984”, Orwell stated in chapter 4, “as soon as all the corrections which happened to be necessary in any particular number of The Times had been assembled and collated, that number would be reprinted, the original copy destroyed, and the corrected copy placed on the files in its stead”. Winston is a worker in the Ministry of Truth and his job is to erase some content in the newspaper that the party said it but did not archive. Clearly, the party is trying to fool everyone based on the fact and it is wrong to control the past. To manipulate the history, The Ministry of Truth censors unpleasant and anti-Party news and the party has full control of history. If the workers forgot or accidentally leave some word on the paper, they will be locked up too. In book 3 chapter 1, “Ampleforth was arrested because he had retained the forbidden word “God” in a Kipling poem he was rewriting,” from this example, it could be dangerious to make a mistake and it is obvious that the party sees changing the history as a serious thing. Connect to modern society, the Japanese history textbook controversies have the same issue. Some content in the history textbook of Japan high school has been edit and deleted on some sensitive event. According to the article “Japan's 'nationalist' school books teach a different view of history” by, it stated, “to delete anything that is seen as negative from our history means that young people are ignorant about their own nation's past. And not knowing about Nanjing or other uncomfortable facts means that they are not able to make appropriate decisions on the future of our country.” It shows that the Japan government is trying to cover up this historical event and doesn’t want more citizens to know the truth. Many people might not know about the Nanjing Massacre in 1937, according to, “Imperial Japanese Army forces brutally murdered hundreds of thousands of people–including both soldiers and civilians–in the Chinese city of Nanking (or Nanjing)... as between 20,000 and 80,000 women were sexually assaulted. Nanking, then the capital of Nationalist China, was left in ruins, and it would take decades for the city and its citizens to recover from the savage attacks”. The Japanese government's intention is clear, they want to avoid the rebellion from the citizens since it was a envious event for China and Japan and students might feel angry about it once they learn the history. According to the article “The ongoing battle over Japan's textbooks” by Thomas Crampton, in the history textbook, it stated, “the Nanking Massacre is a totally made-up case… The story of the 'comfort women,' they held, is an unfounded scandal created in the 1990s solely to bash Japan. Teachers and textbooks that bring the issue into the classroom, these groups held, serve only to 'corrode, pulverize, melt and disintegrate' Japan”. Japan is twisting the fact and purposely misleading the students to gain hate to China because of the fake information. Therefore, editing the history content could bring an enormous impact for the citizens, not only it can manipulate their emotions but the government can also completely control their direction to think.

By utilize reality control such as media control, physical and mental torture and changing the reality, the government will eventually achieve their goal, to gain an absolute power to overcontrol the citizens imperceptibly. “1984” describes a totalitarian society Oceania. The members of the party who controlled this country summed up the experience and lessons of the Nazi totalitarian rule and the Soviet communist society, pushing the totalitarian society to the extreme, and naturally pushing the mind monitoring to the extreme. The novel describes in detail the object of thought monitoring, the means of control, the effect of monitoring, and the ideological transformation of the rebel. Thought control is also done by controlling all media sources. In order to suppress thoughts, the party members even destroyed the language and distort it, leaving only those words that are beneficial to the party. They also destroy books published in the past, change real records, tampering with history. The ideological transformation of the rebel is carried out through extremely cruel physical and mental torture and the novel itself uses multiple chapters to describe this horrible process. Throughout the novel, Orwell was telling us Oceania is a society with a high degree of unity of thought, but no vitality and creativity. The result of extreme mind monitoring is that the spirit is completely dead, and humanity is distorted until it is annihilated. Every country should pursue the concept of social justice, a just and fair relationship between society and individuals, including freedom of speech, religion and ensuring the citizens to fulfill their basic rights. It is important because the success of social justice could bring a positive influence to citizens, even to other countries. In the end, the world will be one step closer to peace and everyone will respect each others’ idea.

Updated: Nov 01, 2022
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Reality Control in Novel "1984" by George Orwell. (2021, Feb 09). Retrieved from

Reality Control in Novel "1984" by George Orwell essay
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