DOWN WITH BIG BROTHER
“They’ll shoot me I don’t care they’ll shoot me in the back of the neck I don’t care down with big brother they always shoot you in the back of the neck I don’t care down with big brother”(G. Orwell, 19)
What if everything I thought was monitored? That is a question that sometimes runs through my mind. My thoughts are mine to keep, weather I dislike a situation or person, weather I want to commit I crime my thoughts belong to me and only me. Yet, Winston Smith does not disclose of the same benefit and when letting his guard down to write on his diary his emotions and rage take control staining his life forever, he was bound to live as a fugitive of his thought-crime.
Complete control is key to create a stable environment. Just like in Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World, George Orwell creates a society where everything is control ranging from history till love. For that to happen there are ministries that administrates it all, Ministry of Truth which changes historical facts to match up and support the party ideals, he Ministry of Peace, which wages war; the Ministry of Plenty, which plans economic shortages; and the Ministry of Love.
Though-Crime however adds an entire new perspective to the idea of control, controlling the mind is the most powerful weapon a system can have for revolutions are originated in the mind. “Thoughtcrime does not entail death: thoughtcrime IS death.”(G. Orwell, 28) Does death await Winston Smith? Is this quote a foreshadow of what is yet to come? Is his thought going to be enough to spur an entire revolution? My mind is flooding with question and I am still in the first three chapters and excited for what awaits me!
"To the future or to the past, to a time when thought is free, when men are different from one another and do not live alone-to a time when truth exists and what is done cannot be undone: From the age of uniformity, from the age of solitude, from the age of Big Brother, from the age of doublethink - greetings!" (Orwell 73)
This quote is what Winston writes in his diary before he sets off to work. It is at this point that he takes the step forward to risk his life for the future while in a society where the present is what must be focused on. By writing for following generations he revives the “antiquated” idea of longevity. In Oceania, to think of the future is to think of where things are headed, and if all men and women were supposed to think that way, the Party could be questioned, and so would Big Brother. As he realizes immediately after he writes this, he has just become a dead man. This quote is important because it kicks off all that will be seen from Winston throughout the rest of the novel. This thoughtcrime would need to be hidden and so would his visions. It also shows how Winston strongly reflects on the environment surrounding him, and it influences him into writing in the diary. This diary is an escape for him, and those that read it, to reach the place no one has, thought-freedom.
Adding a title :P
Prompt # 2 - The Crime to Think
"Whether he wrote DOWN WITH BIG BROTHER, or whether he refrained from writing it, made no difference. Whether he went on with the diary, or whether he did not go on with it, made no difference. The Through Police would get him just the same. He had committed-would still have committed, even if he had never set pen to paper-the essential crime that contained all others in itself. Thoughtcrime, they called it" (Orwell 19).
This quote conveys the extreme oppression and absolute control of the Party, where the biggest crime of all is merely thinking. Our minds are uncontrollable and thoughts rush inside out with no restriction. What would it be like to control and limit what you think? Or even worse, have no ability to think critically. However, Winston Smith not only has the ability to think, but can't help his instinct of analyzing the Party and questioning its truth. This quote foreshadows Smith's possible punishment, since he keeps committing "thoughtcrime". It is interesting how Orwell illustrates the scene where Smith writes in his diary as mysterious and wrong, as if this action was unacceptable. While this is something common and completely secretive for the world the reader knows. However, his private thoughts can't be hidden. The reason for that is not because he can't hide his diary, it is because if there is something in his head, Big Brother can see. Citizens in 1984 seem to have even less freedom than the ones in Brave New World, since they have absolutely NO privacy. In Brave New World Bernard, John and Hemlholtz had their thoughts opposing the World State. They could freely think without being punished for that. This quote is crucial to depict the excessive control and the lack of any type of freedom.
I find it really interesting the way 1984 shows how Big Brother controls the continent, as in contrast with Mustapha Mond in Brave New World. Mond uses happiness as a tool to keep people docile and under his everlasting control. That way not only people obey the World State, they do it on their own free will, requiring less surveillance. As in 1984 Big Brother uses fear as its main tool. He conditions people through never ending propagandas, which convey messages that the people are always being monitored. Not only do people have to listen to these outrageous brainwashing propagandas, they also have to endure even more ludicrous laws, “Thoughtcrime, they called it. Thoughtcrime was not a thing that could be concealed forever” (Orwell 19). Big Brother passed a law that it is illegal to think against him, and if he can actually monitor that with its so-called Thought Police, the oppression has truly reached a new level. What if this Thought Police is a fraud? What if the propagandas only work to give this police force some legitimacy, some power even though the reality might be something else entirely? I believe that the people have become so paranoid that they convinced themselves that, reading one’s thoughts is a possibility. The people were so well trained into believing that they can be convicted of thinking the wrong thoughts, that it bolsters the Big Brother’s power. Maybe the Big Brother’s power lies only in the mind of the people.
Manipulation Controls Thoughts
During these first three chapters, Winston is constantly terrified about his thoughts and how “Thought Police” will eventually catch him and reprimand him due to his thoughtcrimes. The Party that controls society has been able to be present in every citizen’s thoughts and minds and sometimes there may not even be someone around, but the person will automatically be afraid to think or do something that would be deemed as inappropriate by the government officials. One moment that stuck out to me was while Winston wrote down on his diary, “DOWN WITH BIG BROTHER” (Orwell 18). AS he remembered the previous events of his hate, his rage towards Big Brother grew and he wrote that unconsciously, which symbolizes his freedom of thought. However, right after writing and thinking over his actions the readers notice just how strong the government’s manipulation is. Winston feels bad immediately after writing it and knows he is doomed to be punished even if there is no one around to see what he did. As was stated, “the Thought Police would get him just the same. He had committed−would still have committed, even if he had never set pen to the paper−the essential crime that contained all others in itself. Thoughtcrime, they called it” (Orwell 19). The society’s control is such that it has been able to penetrate in citizens’ mind and force them to strongly believe that even if they only think about something that is unethical to their norms, then they should be punished. This makes me wonder, until what extent are our own minds conditioned to think in a certain way? It’s not rare that I find myself feeling bad for some thought I had because I have been led to believe that it is wrong. The morals we learn within our control have become our own Thought Police.
Your worst enemy is your own nervous system (Prompt #2)
“Tragedy, he perceived, belonged to the ancient time, to a time when there was still privacy, love and friendship, and when the members of a family stood by one another without needing to know the reason” (Orwell 35).
What would be considered an act of bravery and even heroism is, in Winston’s eyes, a tragedy. The act of sacrificing one´s life to save a family member is something that does not exist in the world portrayed by George Orwell anymore. History has been extinguished, and along has come love, friendship, care, etc. While in Brave New World the World State would do anything to keep society away from negative feelings and make sure everyone was happy, people in Oceania seem to venerate fear, vindictiveness, and torture. For example, Winston’s “beautiful hallucination” was to “ravish her and cut her throat at the moment of climax” (Orwell 18). The constant surveillance of Big Brother has turned the population into lonely individuals. Fear and control overcome personality and human interaction. Every time that Winston was interacting with someone, the narrator would make sure to point out that the small details are what matter. Everyone is watching everyone, and a “single flicker of the eyes could give you away” (Orwell 42). The fear brought by the Thought Police has turned this society into individualistic people, where following the norms is the only thing that matters, and even if a family member is caught behaving in an unorthodox manner, what matters is making sure they do not rebel or think for themselves. Now that nothing is heartfelt anymore, tragedy does indeed “belong to the ancient times”.
“Today there were fear, hatred and pain, but not dignity of emotion, no deep or complex sorrows” (Orwell 35).
Orwell presents a world where fear, hatred and pain exist, but people do not have the freedom to express such emotions. In this case, George Orwell intends to bring happiness to the society through the opposite way. Instead of making them feel happy, the good emotions and all of the human values are exterminated. Thus, if they don’t know what “good” is, then they don’t know what “bad” is and then, what they have seems “good”. Just as Brave New World, happiness seems to be a major theme in 1984. It is easy to fake happiness, but is it even possible to get rid of it?
YOU CAN'T HIDE B. B. IS WATCHING YOU...
"On each landing, opposite the lift shaft, the poster with the enormous face gazed from the wall. It was one of those pictures which are so contrived that the eyes follow you about when you move. BIG BROTHER IS WATCHING YOU, the caption beneath it ran" (Orwell 1-2).
The novel starts with a suspense scene with various paradoxical facts like winter in April and the watch hitting 13 hours. What got me intrigued and a little fearful for Winston was the fact that Orwell emphasizes the posters or slogans too many times, where they read "Big Brother Is Watching You" (Orwell 2). I could realize the fear every citizen is living in that society and the manipulation that is occurring because of the enforcement of fear on the people with those posters. Another fact that caught my attention was the Thought Police that would bring control to that society through mind reading, which makes the people fear thinking "wrongly."
The reading of the first chapters in 1984 made me connect to past novels like Brave New World and One Flew over the Cuckoo's Nest. All three novels show the reader explicitly the manipulation of society, which causes the people in it to suffer from fear and in the same time bring control over them. In Brave New World's case the simple manipulation of the people causes the control of the society, which made me connect to the reference it, shows of a "wrong society."
Thoughtcrime at Home
Is the idea of thoughtcrime that entirely foreign? Is fiction entirely made up or is reality the basis by which it uses as a starting point? In the world today we still find ourselves surrounded by oppression, censorship and are persecuted for our own personal/political beliefs. Orwell describes the capturing of those who had committed thoughtcrime as "People just disappeared, always during he night. Your name was removed from the registers, every record of everything you had ever done was wiped out, your one-time existence was denied and then forgotten. You were abolished, annihilated: vaporized was the usual word." (Orwell 19). This description in itself reminds me of what perhaps an Argentinian mother who marches out to the Plaza del Mayo every Sunday in front of the Casa Rosada would say about the disappearance of his son/daughter during the Dirty War. These too were apprehended because of their conflicting ideology with the centralized and military government that governed at the time. The difference from the victims in the Dirty War and in 1984 is that no one is willing to stand up for those who have fallen to Big Brother, unlike people who still question till this day where the 10,000 "desaparecidos" really ended up. Hopefully through more plot development in chapters to come a sense of sympathy and unification will arise within the citizens currently terrorized by Big Brother.
The New Generation
It seems to me that, like the society in 1984, we tend to do what is convenient to us more often. 1984 reaches a whole new level though, as the population agrees with the government as if they were blindfolded. Than, why agree on what you don’t agree? I guess that is all a matter of self-benefit: it is safer and easier to follow the system, than to defy it. I mean, so far in the book, I can imagine that if Winston chose to insist on saying that Oceania had been in alliance with Euroasia for example, he would certainly be condemned. In page 35, Orwell discusses the nature of doublethink, as “consciously induce unconsciousness, and than, once again, you become unconscious of the act of hypnosis you had just performed”. That concept is the explanation why there is so much agreement. If people are able to maintain two diverging principles in their minds is because they want something out of it. Take China for example. Despite their communist ideals, China has engaged on highly capitalist measures which is ideally contradictory to their principles. However, as Deng Xiaoping said “It doesn’t matter if a cat is black or white, as long as it catches mice”. So, if they agree on war, slavery and ignorance, it has a reason. So far, it is possible to say that this agreement is the result of imposing fear and lack of privacy/freedom of expression, but there might also be some personal interest too...
Nothing to lose
Winston is obviously not scared of this dystopian society and he has got gut enough to express his thoughts even though that entitles he might die. he gives me hope that there might possibly happen s confront between him and the society. Winston sets his bed and now he has to lay on it, he committed thought crime and made it even more explicit by writing "down with big brother" on his journal so now he will face the consequences. We have also learned that just a thought could get you killed, “the Thought Police would get him just the same. He had committed−would still have committed, even if he had never set pen to the paper−the essential crime that contained all others in itself. Thoughtcrime, they called it” (Orwell 19), thus now that Winston has nothing to lose it makes me wonder what he would be capable of doing, like many brazilians say: "o que é um peido para quem esta cagado?". What will Winston do? Does the fact that he has access to historical data that is not compromised by the totalitarian government gives him a head start and insights that could help him? Since Winston thinks critically he might die so why not just speak it out load so the people can hear it and follow? These first three chapters really set the stage for some conflict between the individual and the society as well as for some tragedy and disaster so lets wait and see how this is going to play out!
Prompt #3: Describe your reaction to a character, action, or idea you confronted in the section.
I'll be Watching You, Winston Smith
The fact that someone is constantly overseeing what you are doing bothers the human being. Can you imagine living in a society where you are constantly being observed and judged by that? What about a society that what you think could lead you to death? The society that George Orwell present to us in 1984 have all of the characteristics above and is indeed a totalitarian regime in which the state tries to control what people think and believe by constantly observing the citizens and manipulating them. “The patrols did not matter, however. Only the Thought Police mattered.” (page 2), to prevent the individual to have their own thoughts the government make sure to punish the ones that think differently than what they are supposed to, as this quotes says “ Nothing was illegal, since there were no longer any laws, but if detected it was reasonably certain that it would be punished by death, or at least by twenty-five years in a force labor camp” (Orwell 6), punishments like the ones imposed by Stalin in Soviet Russia. Another attitude that was similar to Stalin’s is that he painted picture of himself and spread though the state and in Ocenia the same thing happened “It was one of those pictures which are so contrived that the eyes follow you when you move. BIG BROTHER IS WATCHING YOU, the caption beneath it ran.” (page 1). The telescreen needs to mandatorily be on the entire day and only casts exercises and propaganda not only to manipulate people, but to keep the mind of the individual away from creating their own thoughts. One thing that I found interesting was right at the beginning of the chapter, when the narrator states that the picture of the Big Brother has a mustache is of the strong totalitarian leaders we know also have one, such as Stalin and Hitler. In this society, just like in Brave New World you are not allowed to have sex, but in this society they are more extreme since you also can’t have close friends neither strong feelings for another human being, your only “connection” is with the government. Why is Winston the only one (yet) that can see this? What will he do? I'll be Watching You, Winston Smith
1984 starts quite difficult to understand. Blurry descriptions of the scenario, a deluded perception of what is going on are all traits of the first three chapters. Not to mention the hypocritical and even contradictory criticism that this book might be inferring to.
First, the Big Brother: “an enormous face more than a meter wide: the face of a man of about forty-five with a heavy black mustache and ruggedly handsome features” (Orwell 1). He seems to be very similar to Stalin, the Russian dictator in the times of Soviet Union. Other aspects of the book also tend to this idea. For example, the “Party”, the equalization of every man into a single mechanized mindset and even dress code (roughly designed by the Soviet standardization under the Communist regime) – “naked, for a member of the Outer Party received only three thousand clothing coupons annually”.
Secondly, Goldstein: the “good guy” whom the people from Oceania detest reminds Trotsky, a person who was against Stalin – even though they initially were from the same party just like Goldstein and Big Brother – and who had “a lean Jewish face with a great fuzzy aureole of white hair and a small goatee beard” (Orwell 12), being also accused of “counterrevolutionary activities, had been condemned to death, and had mysteriously escaped and disappeared” (Orwell 12).
Last but not least, Winston. Just like the technique used by Aldous Huxley of blending character’s names to true people in order to represent them in fiction, it could be a direct referral to Winston Churchill, a English politician that was strictly against socialism – defended by Stalin, “the Big Brother” and Trotstky, the “counterrevolutionary good guy”. The character Winston is the main character, which is being given the position of revolutionary – proven by his pretentious writing and thought-crime. Portraying thus, that Winston (both the character and Churchill) are the good, subversive fellows of both History and the story.
Given the cruel and dystopian society that the first chapters of 1984 presents, could the authorial intent be the denigration and even scorn of socialism's image? Could this novel have a capitalist moral once it goes against capitalism's everlasting nemesis, socialism? Given the true nature of both capitalism and socialism – understanding that both are nothing but the same authoritarian and dictatorial dogmas that use the same ways to control and oppress the people – would Orwell be hypocritical, contradictory or even naïve have given his capitalist bias in these few chapters?
What a convoluted commencement! While reading the first three chapters of 1984, I picked up a few lines that spoke out to me, and revealed something I could either relate to, or found interesting. I got the first impression that I was reading a novel very similar (with respect to the plot) to Brave New World in the sense that 1984 displays the same aspects of a society entirely controlled by and subject to an "omniscent power." As the narrator states, "You had to live - did live, from habit that became instinct - in the assumption that every sound you made was overheard, and, except in darkness, every movement scrutinized" (Orwell 3). Any thought, or minuscule public act could call the attention of the Thought Police, and endow you with years in prison. The telescreen and ubiquitous posters of Big Brother serve as reminders of the servility that citizens are expected to prove faithfully. When reading this quote, I remembered the Big Nurse and her dominion of the ward. From the perspective of Chief Bromden, her eyes saw the every move of the patients in the mental hospital.
Another aspect of the society of Oceania that called my attention was the lack of technological and urban development in London. This seems to be the only detail that differentiates Brave New World's society to that of 1984. The two minutes dedicated to loathing Goldstein also attracted my interest. What struck me is that "The horrible thing about the Two Minutes Hate [is] not that one [is] obliged act as part, but that it was impossible to avoid joining in" (Orwell 14). The hatred displayed by the citizens is not their own. The people do not know Goldstein in person, they only know that they have to display a repugnance towards him. This is another point that highlights the control that Big Brother has over the minds and thoughts of the citizens. Could this hatred eventually turn against Big Brother and the conformist society like Winston secretly thinks?
Think and Die
“Thoughtcrime, they called it. Thoughtcrime was not a thing that could be concealed for ever. You might dodge success- fully for a while, even for years, but sooner or later they were bound to get you”(Orwell 19) This quote demonstrates what is considered the biggest crime in Oceania, which is to think. The Thought Police in the novel is an oppressive controlling force who “VAPORIZES” anyone who diverges from the Party’s ideals by thinking and maintains order through fear. Is as if the police doesn’t even have to exist, since the people have been so manipulated that the control is automatic in their lives. As shown during the Two Minute Hate sessions the feeling that fuels the society in 1984 is hate, since they are not allowed to experience anything else. During the first chapter Winston admits that, “He hated her because she was young and pretty and sexless, because he wanted to go to bed with her and would never do so, because round her sweet supple waist, which seemed to ask you to encircle it with your arm, there was only the odious scarlet sash, aggressive symbol of chastity”(Orwell 15), showing how despite of his “passionate” feelings towards the black haired girl, society has conditioned him to hate. This condition is caused not only by the Thought Police but also by the hatred sessions which directed the people’s hate to Goldstein in a method that reminds me of the hypnopaedia of Brave New World, since as Winston says, “it was an act of self-hypnosis, a deliberate drowning of consciousness by means of rhythmic noise”(Orwell 16). I ask myself if we are conditioned to feel the way we do and if in our society there is a Big Brother too. Am I manipulated by fear and not allowed to think?
Winston, when he was thinking and writing on his journal he thought that his actions were bad. He believed that the thoughtpolice would eventually catch him and he would die. What was shocking for me, wasn't his fear, but his reaction. Winston was condemning himself for something that he was not even sure if it was that accurate. At a certain point I started to question if the thoughtpolice was real and efficient or if it was some sort of "childhood tale", for example, Santa Claus, referring to the fact that if kids don't behave well during the year, they will get coal instead of a good christmas present. I guess that I'm right, the thoughtpolice can in somehow, really exist, but doesn't have the power that the people believe that they have. Another thing to me was that even working for the government, Winston has fears and is not sure about the "real truth", that for me, sounds a lot like conspiracy.
“Down with Big Brother” (Orwell 18).
I can feel the rage. They are watching me.
Readers from the future, I live oppressed in an inescapable society. It is all the more difficult to endure this condition because, in this world I live in, to think is a crime.
I see the cogs of the future turning, but there is no future for me. I know that “thoughtcrime,” once committed, “is death” (Orwell 28). So why did I do it? I believe it is in my nature to be free from the shackles of the Party. Right now, no one is able to “establish even the most obvious fact when there existed no record outside your own memory” (Orwel 81). I want to have the freedom to think.
Yet, the process of elimination of the past is what scares me the most. At this point, I can be sure that I did not only die, but I never existed. Inexistence frightens me more than death or torture, since it represents the inutility of individually trying to fight against the system. There seems to be no escape for me.
I ponder what will happen. That horrible dark-haired girl will turn me in; I bet she is a spy. Or Parsons children, they seem conspicuous. Or the telescreen will capture me letting out an expression of facecrime. Mutual trust between individuals has been reduced to nothing. Instead, the party member’s allegiance goes straight to Big Brother. That is a sad state of affairs.
I do not have much time. If you are still reading this, take it as a warning. That nor you, nor any single person of your time may let “them” take it away what is intrinsically yours. The freedom to think.
Greetings from the grave,
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.