What would life be like today if the federal government had absolute control? No freedoms for anyone whatsoever. The government controls when citizens may sleep, eat, do a job, and even control when citizens are allowed to speak. Would life really be worth living? We as readers are able to gain a small taste of what this would be like after reading the classic novel 1984, written by George Orwell. In the lonely, lifeless setting it is clear that the government has gained complete control when readers look at the two star crossed lovers, Winston and Julia.
These two desperately want nothing more than to live a peaceful life together; however their communication is high treason. When reading the novel we can clearly see through motifs of the idea of double think, thought to be friends, and fear, that the government is able to control all aspects of life. First, throughout the book the government practices what is called double think as a way to control the citizens of Oceania. Double think is when the government is able to make people believe that something has happened or is currently happening when in reality, it has not.
Double think is first presented when Winston stops for a second to think about a ‘favor’ that Big Brother had done for the people. Everyone was happy when Big Brother raised the chocolate rations to twenty grams however Winston remembers, “It appeared that there had even been demonstrations to thank Big Brother for raising the [Chocolate] ration to twenty grams a week. And only yesterday, he reflected, it had been announced that the ration was to be reduced to twenty grams a week” (51). In this case the party used a falsity to gain praise from their citizens, when in reality they took some negative news and presented it in a positive way.
This clearly shows that whatever the party says the people will believe. It is almost as if the party is doing the thinking for all of their citizens, and the people themselves are merely puppets doing exactly what the director’s tugs tell them to do. Double think presents itself repetitively throughout the book but another good example is how The Party always claims to be at war with the same enemy. At one point Julia says, “I thought we’d always been at war with Eurasia” (127). This is an instance where Julia is actually able to catch a glimpse of reality because the enemy of The Party changed from Eastasia to Eurasia ust four years earlier. The last and most glaring example of double think is in the minds of the Proles. This group of government workers is the most controlled and will forget things that are clearly presented right before their eyes if The Party says so. Next the motif of friendship is used throughout the book to show how the government has ultimate control. Every time Winston develops a friend it backfires on him. He lets his guard down, gets comfortable with the person in desperation to relieve himself from the complete loneliness.
O’Brien shows us the first example when he claims to be an enemy of The Party and befriends Winston. During their first meeting O’Brien says, “Later I shall send you a book from which you will learn the true nature of the society we live in, and the strategy by which we shall destroy it” (144). O’Brien is able to control Winston’s thoughts now and is able to suppress all suspicions that he is a party supporter. However O’Brien is actually an Inner Party leader and is able to exploit Winston’s thinking and treasonous thought crimes. Another friend that betrays Winston in the end is Mr. Charrington, Mr. Charrington appears to be a friend to Winston and Julia, and gives them a secret place to stay together. Then when the two lovers are finally turned in, “Winston suddenly realized whose voice it was that he had heard a few moments ago on the telescreen. It occurred to Winston that for the first time in his life he was looking, with knowledge, at a member of the Thought Police” (185). This shows that even the people that Winston wholly trusts, cannot be trusted. Mr. Charrington is a member of the Thought Police and Winston is caught.
This shows that the government is everywhere and they have so many people working for them, that they have complete control. No one and no where is safe. Finally, the government utilized fear to control the actions of the people. Everyone knows what will happen to someone who gets caught by the Thought Police, torture or vaporization. This fear lingers in the back of every ones minds and it is what drives their will to obey. This is shown when Winston thinks to himself, “The idea had even crossed his mind that she might be an agent of the Thought Police” (12).
The citizens have a constant fear of getting caught and taken by the Thought Police and are paranoid of everyone, even their own unconscious thoughts. The fear of ultimate pain, torture is one of Winston’s personal greatest fears. The government shows it’s complete and utter control of absolutely everything when Winston’s greatest fear becomes a reality. O’Brien holds up four fingers and asks, “There are five fingers there. Do you see five fingers” (213)? Winston responds heartlessly and submissively with “Yes” (213). At this point it is clear that Winston will do anything and believe anything to end the torture.
O’Brien and The Party now have regained complete control over Winston’s mind. In conclusion, through the motifs of double think, friends, and fear Orwell accurately depicts the way life would be if the government obtained absolute control. Although 1984 is only a radical opinion or fantasy of what could happen there are some signs that the government does control many things today. This novel does paint a good picture and sets and example so what can we can take all necessary steps to prevent this nightmare from ever becoming a reality.