This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
George Orwell, like many other literary scholars, is interested in the modern use of the English language and, in particular, the abuse and misuse of English. 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. He accomplishes this by placing a great focus on Newspeak and the media in his novel 1984. 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 without questioning obey their government and accept all propaganda as reality. Language becomes a mind-control tool, the goal being the destruction of will and imagination. One of Orwell’s most important messages in 1984 is that language is of central importance to human thought because it structures and limits the ideas that individuals are capable of formulating and expressing. If control of language were centralized in a political agency, Orwell proposes, such an agency could possibly alter the very structure of language to make it impossible to even conceive of disobedient or rebellious thoughts, because there would be no words with which to think them. This idea manifests itself in the language of Newspeak, which the Party has introduced to replace English. The Party is constantly refining and perfecting Newspeak, with the ultimate goal that no one will be capable of conceptualizing anything that might question the Party’s absolute power. By design, Newspeak narrows the range of thought and shortens people’s memories. It is therefore ideal for a totalitarian system, in which the government has to rely on a passive public which lacks independent thought and which has a great tolerance for mistakes, both past and present. “To expand language is to expand the ability to think”. To restrict language, as with Newspeak, is to restrict the range of thought. Orwell’s novel represents the picture of a totalitarian system gone to the absolute extreme, but it is a novel that is fundamentally about psychological control of the public. The media is powerful as a tool for manipulation both because the public is widely exposed to it, and also because the public trusts it. The telescreens continuously shout bursts of news and propaganda throughout the day, and the people listen intently and cheer at ‘good news’ (victories) and are driven to rage by ‘bad news’. The characters in Orwell’s novel are slaves of the media. When the telescreens initiate the Two Minutes Hate, for instance, the people become mad: “People were leaping up and down in their places and shouting at the tops of their voices . . . [a girl] had begun crying out ‘Swine! Swine! Swine!”. As Orwell says in his essay Politics and the English Language, “Political language is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind”. In the novel, these lies are quite obvious. For example, the media (controlled by the Party, of course) continually refers to the Ministries of Truth, Peace, Love, and Plenty. In reality, however, the Ministry of Truth is concerned with the falsification of records, and the Ministry of Peace deals with warfare. The Ministry of Love is “the really frightening one” as it is essentially a place for the questioning and torturing of suspected criminals. The Ministry of Plenty makes up economic figures to convince the public that the economy is in good shape, even though there are great shortages of all commodities due to 1
. when used in a maliciously political way. this is called pacification. Indeed. and how the government controls people to a degree. foreign powers took political and military control of distant regions and. Postcolonial writers often analyze or redress the damage done to local populations by the loss of language and the attendant loss of culture and historical connection. “Language is one of the key instruments of political dominations. Orwell’s novel carries a well-founded warning about the powers of language. Use of Language in George Orwell's 1984 George Orwell’s 1984 was written in 1948. Orwell is giving a slight extreme but is showing how the government has the capability to deceive people and suppress them if necessary. Winston. and preached the horrid outcome that could result if people did not change their ways. politicians have used written language to manipulate history both in the past and present. Interestingly. is continually amazed to see his friends and colleagues swallow the lies that the media dishes out. It shows how language can shape people’s sense of reality. Orwell showed how freedom can be taken away in an instant. and even how it can be used to manipulate history. Around the time he wrote the novel. While language in the traditional sense can expand horizons and improve our understanding of the world. the inhabitants driven out into the countryside . He is trying to scare the people. and fix their lifestyle. how it can be used to hide truths. Orwell gives examples of how politicians can twist words to deceive people in his essay Politics and the English Language: “Defenceless villages are bombarded from the air. During colonial times. He showed the ignorance of people at the time. the necessary and insidious means of the ‘totalitarian’ control of reality”. the media is relying on the principle that a piece of information that is repeated often enough becomes accepted as truth. can just as easily become “a plot against human consciousness”. Orwell was showing people what society would soon come to if they continued their behaviour. Millions of peasants are robbed of their farms and sent trudging along the roads with no more than they can carry: this is called transfer of population or rectification of frontiers”. Orwell is making a point about how the media can use language to mask the truth. Orwell intended 1984 to be a warning against totalitarian tendencies. Orwell’s novel is extreme. and can definitely increase their control and power. a particularly strong-minded individual. many of Orwell’s ideas about language as a controlling force have been modified by writers and critics seeking to deal with the legacy of colonialism. and around the time of the Great Depression. but it is not necessarily a prediction of the future. and to warn them to change their ways. This brainwashing is done through the words of the telescreens. as a part of their occupation. In many ways. This was right after World War II. humanity as a whole was disintegrating.the war. . Although the irony in the titles is obvious. newspapers and magazines. George Orwell shows how the world can even be as corrupt as to have people’s children turn them into the government. Drunks and low class people ran society. Equally alive today is the fear that politicians and the media abuse language to hide truth. Orwell’s novel demonstrates that language. 2 . instituted their own language as the language of government and business.
In 1984's society. the other animals are not as alarmed at the early decisions of the party. It allows people to communicate with one another. "Politics and the English Language" as being able "to name things without calling up mental pictures of them". making them to accept policy changes and other actions. Vocabulary allows people to create ideas. In 1984. A larger vocabulary even helps people elaborate on their ideas. and inspire a sense of trust. By the end of the novella. any lies previously told by the leader Napoleon are referred to as "tactics" as opposed to lie. The government tries to rid the language of words such as “freedom”. and even discuss their ideas to eventually culminate their thoughts and reach a certain epiphany that will hopefully enhance their life. but people themselves are suppressed. People use language as a means to express themselves. The goal of the government is to limit the vocabulary of the people. To gain trust. Orwell’s sophisticated exposure of this abuse of language remains one of the most compelling and enduring features of Animal Farm. 3 . which becomes increasingly audacious as the novel progresses. instead of using more negative words like kill or murder. They must be able to say what they feel. the pigs gradually twist the meaning of his words. the government eliminates freedom. in Animal Farm.” This outrageous abuse of the word “equal” and of the ideal of equality in general typifies the pigs’ method. after Squealer’s repeated reconfigurations of the Seven Commandments in order to decriminalize the pigs’ treacheries. By eliminating people’s thoughts. Through these word changes. It allows one to do as they please. worthy of close study even after we have decoded its allegorical characters and events. As a result. The Abuse of Language as Instrumental to the Abuse of Power One of Orwell’s central concerns. the government eliminates the thoughts. but some animals are more equal than others. people must communicate. They speak. The animals heartily embrace Major’s visionary ideal of socialism. but after Major dies. They are not allowed to fully express themselves. By eliminating the words from the vocabulary. which is the essence of freedom. Freedom is being independent. is the way in which language can be manipulated as an instrument of control. In Animal Farm. contrary to Animal Farm. the other animals seem unable to oppose the pigs without also opposing the ideals of the Rebellion. the leadership claims the need to "conquer" humans. and preach what they think. foster ignorance. both in Animal Farm and in 1984. the main principle of the farm can be openly stated as “all animals are equal. To be able to express themselves. For example. and to freely share their thoughts. George Orwell presents the government as language oppressors. write. and “independence”. Without language people’s thoughts are not only suppressed.Language is a means of expression. Orwell describes it in his essay. the pigs gradually twist and distort a rhetoric of socialist revolution to justify their behavior and to keep the other animals in the dark. euphemism is used specifically to eradicate negative feelings toward the government. The Use of Euphemism in Animal Farm and 1984 : Euphemism is the process of removing an unpleasant image from something by changing the wording used to describe it.
he is considered to be one of the best English essayists of the 20th century. George Orwell was principally an essayist. forcing obedience. These two. We can presume that Orwell wrote like this in order to make 1984 more accessible to the public and thus to be able to impose his opinions on as many people as possible. and condition citizens to more readily accept information. short sentences boil down the political attitudes of two potential leaders. and he is known for his opinion that long words and complicated grammar structures are unnecessary for good prose. Winston is subjected to rapid-fire information to the point of accepting blatant alterations of reality such as "TWO AND TWO MAKE FIVE. Eventually. Firstly. The manipulation of language through euphemism and slogan slowly conditions the population to accept more and more drastic changes. Winston. we could hypothesise that the language and style used is the kind used by Winston when he thinks and talks. As well as its simplicity. Secondly. designed to quickly convey meaning and stay in the memory of the target audience. We must assume. the main character of 1984. as readers. two main slogans are: "Vote for Snowball and the three-day work week" and "Vote for Napoleon and the full manger". In 1984. however." which inspires fear of detection from any minor crime. 4 . neither the language nor style is particularly dated which helps the book to maintain its popularity. In Animal Farm. and aim to influence animals of lesser understanding with oversimplifications. that earlier slogans were more similar to those in Animal Farm. slogans are used more for control and fear than influence over political thought. the government gains the power to change perception of reality. this is due to two different things. such slogans allow for the transmittance of complex ideas quickly. as the story is told from Winston's point of view. which he knows watches his every move." completing the corruption of his mind and near complete control over the people. None of the words used in his novels are particularly complicated. and develops a strong sense of control. An example of this control and fear is the repeated slogan "Big Brother Is Watching You. the beginning of society is not shown in 1984 as it is in Animal Farm. even alters his daily schedule so as to not be reprimanded by the government.Repetition of Slogans For Spreading Propaganda A slogan is a small assembly of words. In Orwell's works. By the end of the book. This meant that he preferred to write in a way that could be easily understood but was also very interesting. in essence.