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March 08, 2021, 09:45:04 pm

Author Topic: Nineteen Eighty-Four Textual Analysis Thread  (Read 365 times)

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K.Smithy

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Nineteen Eighty-Four Textual Analysis Thread
« on: January 21, 2021, 11:06:23 am »
+12
NINETEEN EIGHTY-FOUR TEXTUAL ANALYSIS THREAD

What is this thread for?
This thread is for discussing and understanding George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four. It is a central place for inter-state discussion and the sharing of resources, as well as a place to ask questions and discuss themes. Find the quote bank for Nineteen Eighty-Four here. Everyone is welcome to contribute; even if you're unsure of yourself, providing different perspectives is incredibly valuable. Please don't be dissuaded if you haven't finished Year 12, or didn't score as highly as others, or your advice contradicts something else you've seen on this thread, or whatever. None of this disqualifies you from helping others. And if you're worried you do have some sort of misconception, put it out there so that fellow peers (or even old folk like me who have graduated :P) can lend a helping hand. There'll be plenty of students with their own wealth of wisdom to share with you, so you may even get multiple answers from different people offering their own insight - very cool.

Helpful Summaries:
1984 by George Orwell, Part 1: Crash Course Literature 401 - duration 14:27
George Orwell's 1984, Part 2: Crash Course Literature 402 - duration 12:42
The Dystopian World of 1984 Explained - duration 15:25

Theme Index:
Totalitarianism
Individuality
Propaganda
Information Regulation and the Revision of History
Love/Sexuality
Loyalty
Economic Situation
Technology
Language
Mind Control

Character Index:
Winston Smith
Julia
O’Brien
Big Brother
Mr. Charrington
Emmanuel Goldstein

Free Notes:
Feel free to visit the notes section of ATAR Notes for awesome resources - provided to you by fellow students and graduates ;D

If you can't download the notes...
To download the notes or make a post in this thread, you will first need an ATAR Notes account. You probably already have one, but if you don't, it takes about four seconds to sign up - and it's completely free!

Other Resources:
As always, resources such as Sparknotes are great for getting a basic understanding of the plot. However, if you are looking for analysis at a deeper level, I highly recommend looking through articles on JSTOR about the novel. I found a lot of them to be a Godsend ;D (this applies for pretty much any text you study throughout your high school career. I used JSTOR for all of my texts)
ATAR Notes has also published its own text guide for Nineteen Eighty-Four and maybe even some of the other texts you will study over the years! :)



Good luck on your journey analysing Nineteen Eighty-Four! Please feel free to help this thread grow by sharing: any helpful resources you have found, your own analysis, practice essays/paragraphs and/or any questions you may have :)
« Last Edit: January 24, 2021, 10:10:32 pm by K.Smithy »
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K.Smithy

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Re: Nineteen Eighty-Four Textual Analysis Thread
« Reply #1 on: January 21, 2021, 01:50:10 pm »
+7
The Theme of Totalitarianism

Through INGSOC (the perversion of socialism that wreaks havoc in Oceania), Orwell illustrates that the singular goal of any totalitarian state is the maintenance of absolute control over all citizens – in an attempt to eliminate any lingering threat of rebellion. This terrifying level of control enables the Party to hold immutable power. The events that constitute Winston’s torture provide readers with a glimpse into the Party’s underlying motivator… O’Brien reveals that in the grand scheme of things, the Party merely pursues power for the sake of power – not for some greater cause. As a result of this overwhelming amount of power, the Party is able to define/manipulate the past, and the present, and every other facet of society; and in doing so, is effective in its goal of quelling all dissent and individuality. Oceania presents the ultimate dystopia.

Orwell stresses the terrifying degree of power and control that totalitarian states can not only gain but also sustain. Nineteen Eighty-Four highlights the fact that any notions of personal rights, individual freedoms, and the autonomy of thought are pulverised due to the omnipotent nature of the government and its figures of authority. The very idea of an individual is surrendered so that homogeneity can be established amongst every member of the population – ultimately forcing citizens to abide by and internalise Party ideologies. However, Winston is a beacon of hope for readers. He is the embodiment of a brighter future for humanity – one in which individuals are just that, individuals. Winston’s ability to pose questions that contradict Party ideologies indicates that individuals can remain true to themselves, intellectually and personally, despite a multitude of forces all vying to regulate the human mind. Winston provides hope for a political rebellion even when all political freedoms have been relinquished (though, at the end of the novel readers are brought to the realisation that, in Oceania, the possibility for political rebellion is nothing more than an illusion – with this illusion being revealed in Room 101).

Unfortunately, history has shown that it is possible even for democracies and freethinking societies to collapse into ruthless regimes that care for nothing more than power. Nineteen Eighty-Four does a fantastic job at illustrating this. This novel was a social commentary on Orwell’s criticisms of the rules of leaders such as Hitler and Stalin, and how they corrupted and manipulated power to destroy everything good about people and the ability for an individual to exercise self-autonomy. Many components of the novel (i.e. the notion of Un-personing, the Thought Police, Party interrogation methods…) are merely thinly veiled fictional revivals of Stalinist Russia. While other components (i.e. newspeak, doublethink, the Ministry of Truth…) clearly draw inspiration from Nazi Germany. At the simplest level, Nineteen Eighty-Four is an apolitical amalgamation of both Hitler’s and Stalin’s regimes.
« Last Edit: January 21, 2021, 03:02:48 pm by K.Smithy »
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Re: Nineteen Eighty-Four Textual Analysis Thread
« Reply #2 on: January 22, 2021, 12:24:01 pm »
+5
The Theme of Individuality

It is understood that dystopian societies are often influenced by chilling concepts such as: ‘… power is collective. The individual only has power in so far as he ceases to be an individual,’ as stated by O’Brien. It is commonplace for such societies to have an oligarchy present, that aims to colonise the thoughts of citizens and ultimately influence every aspect of their lives (from their behaviours to their relationships). Through the act of colonising the thoughts of citizens, individuals who are deemed enemies of the state (as a result of their ‘separateness’ from the rest of society) are reprogramed/re-educated until they have become living, breathing automatons designed to fulfill the needs of the State. Through Nineteen Eighty-Four Orwell emphasises how easily the concept of self can be manipulated and even abolished. This text is a polemic against tyrannous governments who abuse their power (through means of extensive psychological conditioning and physical abuse) to eliminate individual liberties.

As stated above, political oligarchy generally aims to enforce the uniformity of a population. This removes the ability for individuals to distinguish themselves from others. As a result, Party doctrines are viewed as being morally correct – meaning that individuals no longer have the capacity to contest authority. The imposition of mass uniformity brings with it a bonus side-effect; this being that individuals are not conscious of the oppressed state in which they live, and thus feel that there is no need to revolt. Oppression is realised when inequality can be observed. Henceforth, the removal of individualism, of any sense, prevents citizens from having grounds to identify their own struggles and challenge the government – the Party successfully avoids the social unrest that could encourage rebellion.

The State ensures that both Inner and Outer Party members don’t question supremacy by fusing their thoughts and mindset with the State’s. This is achieved through the use of propaganda (which is observed to be dispersed through events such as Two Minutes Hate and organisations such as the Spies). Party members, once properly indoctrinated, are no longer capable of challenging the validity of any of the ministries claims. In fact, the level of ignorance that has been conditioned into Party members emphasises the realness of INGSOC’s paradoxical slogans. The State gains strength when its citizens have become too ignorant to discriminate between war and peace, or freedom and slavery. This ignorance is solely a result of the conflation of the individual’s and Party’s thoughts.

Orwell highlights how uniformity is preserved and individualism destroyed by dehumanising citizens. Rebellious individuals (those who have not assimilated entirely) are labelled as being ‘sick’, and governing bodies assure them that they will find true happiness after being ‘cured’ by the ‘perfect’ Party. In this way, individuality is depicted as being abhorrent and self-destructive; thus, forcing individuals to direct all loyalty towards the Party, as the Party will show them the way. Rebellious individuals also include those who express emotions other than hatred towards enemies of the State and love for Big Brother – therefore, in order to repress individualism, unapproved emotions must also be abolished. By removing most natural emotions, the government also removes the ability for one individual to conceive a sense of reality that differs from the Party’s.

In Oceania, emotional regulation (just like many other forms of oppression) is accomplished through the restriction of language. Language is one of the primary vectors through which people can communicate their sense of reality to others. Thus, the destruction of language was a pivotal step for the Party to make in order to maintain control. Its destruction enables the Party to ‘squeeze [citizens] empty, and then fill [them] with [Party ideologies].’ This ensures that individuals relinquish any knowledge that could encourage them to argue their own personal beliefs against the Party’s. Further, concepts such as doublethink (employed to distort and reappropriate an individual’s understanding of society on the basis of context), perplex individuals and remove possible ‘anchor points’ that they may use as the foundation for their assertions against the government. The Party controls the past, present, and future – meaning these ‘anchor points’ are subject to constant change and become unreliable. 

In totalitarian states, which characteristically authorise that individuals should follow strictly regulated daily schedules, the notion of a personal life (referred to as ‘ownlife’ within the novel – meaning individualism and eccentricity) is eradicated. Combine the amalgamation of the individual and group with the constant surveillance facilitated via telescreens and the Thought Police, citizens may be inclined to feel as though they are being scrutinised. Further, these factors deplete citizens of any remaining energy that they have (that is, if any energy remains after how overworked they are), as to ensure that it cannot be used to start a rebellion.

It is clear that Nineteen Eighty-Four is a condemnation against authoritarian impositions brought forth by tyrannous governments and emphasises the value of free of thought and speech. Within the novel, Julia’s and Winston’s triumphs arise from minute moments during which they regulate their own consciousness, experience a genuine human connection, and feel as though they have a sliver of personal freedom…. All of which are moments of individuality that set them apart from the rest of society. However, it is important to note how tiny these moments truly are. Individualism is a political act. Having any sort of autonomy is a political act. Not only does the Party suppress subversion through the abuse of technology and physical/psychological torture, but also by eliminating individualism.
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K.Smithy

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Re: Nineteen Eighty-Four Textual Analysis Thread
« Reply #3 on: January 24, 2021, 10:10:02 pm »
+3
The Theme of Propaganda

Probably one of the most significant and effective means by which the Party maintains its rule lies with its well organised propaganda machine – ironically referred to as the Ministry of Truth. Any facts and figures that will be dispersed to the public, from the Ministry of Truth, are determined by the Party. The Party is capable of creating a reality that benefits them – regardless of the accuracy of this “reality”. The Ministry of Truth is responsible for correcting old material so that it supports the current position, on any matter, that the Party holds. Allowing for the Party to dictate not only the information disseminated to the population, but also the supposed reality.

Through the emphasis placed on the harrowing effects of propaganda throughout Nineteen Eighty-Four, readers catch another glimpse of Orwell’s disdain towards totalitarianism. Orwell warns readers that if propaganda rules all information, then it is not possible to have an accurate grasp on reality. The Party uses doublethink to ensure that, even when presented contradictory and confusing information, the population continues to direct their blind loyalty towards the Party without feeling the effects of cognitive dissonance. Contradictions form the foundations of Party ideology and are the basis on which the Party thrives. The three famous slogans (‘War is Peace,’ ‘Freedom is Slavery,’ and ‘Ignorance is Strength.’) are examples of such contradictions. By forcing the unconscious acceptance of such blatant inaccuracies, individual’s become unable to inquiry and think independently. Fundamentally, doublethink programs people to blindly believe opposite of what is known to be true, and to sequentially adjust one’s understanding accordingly.

Aside from the information shared by the Ministry of Truth, there is also propaganda in the form of Two Minutes Hate, Hate Week, mandatory participation in the Physical Jerks, and posters (some bearing Big Brother, and others presenting ironic slogans). Orwell puts a lot of energy into showing just how much the Party relies on and uses propaganda – it is evident that the Party uses any and every opportunity to instil its principles into the minds of all Oceanian citizens. Readers observe how such propaganda motivates blind and enduring loyalty. This blind loyalty allows the Party to fill citizens hearts with hate for particular enemies, and then redirect this hatred towards any new enemies. What is most concerning is the ease with which this hatred is redirected. Upon witnessing the procession of prisoners of war, the brutality of totalitarianism is realised. Prisoners are decisively paraded through public spaces to be used as propaganda to support the Party’s war efforts.
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