Manipulation Techniques in Orwell’s
Nineteen Eighty Four : The Power of Language
My thesis statement is that George Orwell’s novel Nineteen Eighty Four carries a well-founded warning and exhibits the numerous methods by which the political leaders in a totalitarian regime use power to manipulate and control society. The aim of my essay is to show what are these manipulation techniques and what effect they have on individuals. I will try to achieve my bourne by exhibiting and explaining how language can shape people’s sense of reality, how it can be used to conceal truths, and even how it can be used to manipulate history, as seen in Orwell’s novel.
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It is for this reason that Newspeak rather than torture is planned as the way to erase thoughtcrime (Stansky 88). However, while Newspeak is a very significant method of mind control through language, it is just a part of a greater Inner Party scheme. It is, in fact, the Party-controlled media in the novel that uses Newspeak as well as other linguistic trickery to spread its propaganda and brainwash the public.
Language becomes a mind-control tool, and George Orwell, like many other literary scholars, is interested in the modern use of language and, in particular, the abuse and misuse of it. He realizes that language has the power in politics to mask the truth and mislead the public, and he wishes to increase public awareness of this power, given the fact that the ultimate goal is the destruction of will and imagination. As Friederick R. Karl explains, Orwell recognizes that language, whether used by the poet, the journalist, or the dictator, suggests the quality of a society. And a manipulation of language, particularly at present, affords a manipulation of the society itself(Karl, 165). Orwell accomplishes this by placing a great focus on Newspeak and the media in his novel Nineteen Eighty-Four. Demonstrating the repeated abuse of language by the government and by the media in his novel, Orwell shows how language can be used politically to deceive and manipulate people, leading to a society in which the people unquestioningly obey their government and mindlessly accept all propaganda as reality.
The Party uses children’s organizations to control the minds of its youth from a young age. They explain to children that their loyalties lie only with the Party. They are also encouraged these various leagues and organizations (eg. Anti-sex league, Junior spies) to reject relationships of any kind and spy to on their surrounding individuals, even their own parents. The extent of the indoctrination is shown by Orwell through the inclusion of the Parsons children in the novel; they are desensitized to violence and clamber to attend a public hanging. The children are ruthless in their quest to weed out the unorthodox and, as a result, even their mother lives in fear of being denounced by her own children: What stuck Winston most was the look of helpless fright on the woman’s grayish face.(Orwell, 63) Another example of the effect that this kind of education has on children is the case of Winston’s neighbor, who shouts in his sleep “Down with Big brother”, although he seems perfectly adapted to the system. The children denounce him, he is thrown in prison, and yet he is very proud of their education; his son, while playing, once shouted at Winston: You’re a traitor!(…) You’re a thought criminal! You’re a Eurasian spy! I’ll shoot you, I’ll vaporize you, I’ll send you to the salt mines! (Orwell, 74) Noticing such a behavior, one can only conclude that Orwell is a master at creating images for lives wastes from the cradle to the grave ( Vianu, 25).