Daily Cathartic Break
In the first part of the novel, the character Winston describes and participates in a daily activity performed by him and his work companions, called the Two Minutes Hate. Initially, due to the fact that the character Winston does not share the same opinion about the system of government as his colleagues do, he tries to avoid being part of the crowd that looked with eyes of hate towards Goldstein. The turning point in this scene occurs when Winston instinctively starts to scream towards the screen as if he had been poisoned by the roaring crowd and is not able to control himself, “The horrible thing about the Two Minutes Hate was not that one was obliged to act a part, but that it was impossible to avoid joining in” (Orwell 14). First of all, I believe that this is a tactic used by the government, in which there is a daily praise to Big Brother and performing of a chant of hatred against Goldstein, is extremely effective due to the fact that it accomplishes two of the main goals necessary to maintain stability in that society; to create in the people the feeling that they should always respect and obey the laws dictated by Big Brother and also to inspire fear in those who have ever thought about opposing the current system of government and joining the rebels. I believe that the Two Minutes Hate is not only a direct strike against Goldstein but also to the system of government that he defends, which obviously deviates from the dictatorial one Big Brother has installed. Thus, it subconsciously creates on people the notion that if they wish to oppose Big Brother, they would have to be willing to “fight against an infuriated “army” determined to maintain the status quo. Moreover, another aspect that caused Winston to join the chant was simply the fact that there was a copious amount of people screaming and exposing the same feeling towards the same thing at the same time, “A hideous ecstasy of fear and vindictiveness, a desire to kill, to torture, to smash faces in with a sledge hammer, seemed to flow through the whole group of people like an electric current, turning one even against one’s will into a grimacing, screaming lunatic” (Orwell 14). I believe that human beings have an instinctive sense of union, thus, even though he truly did not believe in the ideology shared by the others, Winston saw himself forced to join them since he didn’t feel comfortable being excluded; he wanted to be integrated, he wanted to be part of a group. In conclusion, Winston’s hypocritical behavior demonstrates how these indirect and subconscious strategies of propaganda used by the system were truly effective as they were able to manipulate people and make sure they remained loyal to Big Brother.
6.) We can clearly see Syme's opinion as to how language can control thought and behavior, he explains to Winston, "Don't you see that the whole aim of Newspeak is to narrow the range of thought? In the end we shall make thought crime literally impossible, because there will be no words in which to express it. Every concept that can ever be needed will be expressed by exactly one word, with its meaning rigidly defined and all its subsidiary meanings rubbed out and forgotten" (Orwell 52). Syme realizes that through language people have the capacity of thinking. Words that convey ideas opposite to those that the Party preaches are dangerous; hence, the need for Newspeak. Although that is clear to all, through the use of doublethink they do not realize that this means the Party makes it impossible for them to think. Furthermore, thought controls human behavior and if one can limit the thoughts of the population; they are also limit their behavior. Syme rationalizes how powerful language is to control thought and behavior, yet does not understand how controlling that is. It is interesting that doublethink is so powerful that it allows the character to understand how their ability to think for themselves is taken away, but at the same time they cannot rationalize their loss of control. Today, we notice the power of language when, in advertisement for example, things are phrased differently so they can have a greater positive effect on the people. Another example of the power of language is when books are banned due to their ideologies. Although they did not have total control over the language yet, to what extent had they manipulated the language to have enough control over the people for them to preform doublethink intensely/instantly?
2. Some of the lines that struck me the most in the first part of the novel can be found on page 30. When Winston reflects on his childhood, the narrator reveals, “Tragedy, he perceived, belonged to the ancient time, to a time when there were still privacy, love and friendship…Such things, he saw, could not happen today. Today there were fear, hatred, and pain, but no dignity of emotion, or deep or complex sorrows” (Orwell 30). A parallel between this line and the idea presented by John the Savage in Brave New World can be easily traced, for the narrator, too, associates happiness to words of negative connotation, like “complex sorrows”. Like Huxley in BNW, Orwell presents the idea that although sorrows have the power of devastating people emotionally, not being able to revive them in one’s memories is even worse, for hardships and sorrows teach us valuable lessons and make our accomplishments feel better. One might argue, however, that the narrator mentions that there are “fear, hatred, and pain” in the society of 1984, which is different from what occurs in BNW. The disclaimer to this argument can be found in the passage where the narrator describes the Two Minute Hate sessions. Like Thiago mentions in his blog post, the sessions are solely used as a mechanism of manipulation by the government. Although his personal opinion of Goldstein diverges from that which the government tries to convey to the public, Winston also starts yelling over the image of Goldstein as he watches how other people violently react to it. This shows that the hatred generated in the Two Minutes Hate is synthetic, not true and instinctive. True hatred in 1984 is just as nonexistent as in the World State of Brave New World. Furthermore, in both societies, the lack of true, powerful emotions is scrutinized by characters that, by some logistical or scientific error, have a sharp critical thinking which keeps them from conforming to the imposed social order. I wonder, however, which burden is hardest to bear- the burden of having felt powerful emotions in a recent past and all of the sudden, starting to live in a society of pre-conditioned individuals where no such things as pain and sorrow exist, or the burden of forgetting what true emotions feel like, which happens to Winston due to the destruction of his childhood memory.
**The title of my blog post is: Synthetic emotions in 1984 vs. Brave New World
Two Minutes Hate
An idea I confronted in the first part of the novel, 1984, by George Orwell that caught my attention was the concept of Two Minutes of Hate. During the Two Minutes Hate, the members of the Oceania society were to watch a film that portrayed the party’s enemies on a daily basis, and then spend two minutes expressing their hatred for them in any manner they pleased. I found this concept particularly intriguing as I have never seen or heard of anything like it before. Could something so extreme as expressing ones hatred every single morning be a successful way to relieve oneself of anguish and negativity? Upon reading the vivid descriptions that revealed, “in its second minute the Hate rose to a frenzy. People leaping up and down in their places and shouting at the top of their voices in an effort to drown the maddening bleating voice that came from the screen. The dark-haired girl behind Winston had begun crying…suddenly she picked up a heavy newspeak dictionary and flung it at the screen” (Orwell 14), I became mesmerized at the prospect of such an event actually happening. First of all, I could not possibly imagine living in a society in which I would have to tolerate seeing someone or something I utterly detested every morning. Second of all, I can only imagine that it must be exhausting and draining for the citizens of the Oceania society to have to get worked up and passionately emotional on a daily basis over the same thing. Who wants to wake up knowing they would have to see something they hated on a screen? I would personally hate to be forced to scream and make a scene in front of the rest of my society every day. I think the concept of Two Minutes Hate has good intentions, in the sense that it relieves the people of bottled up or suppressed negativity that they may be holding in. by screaming and being dramatic, the negative energy would burst out of them every morning, in order for them to start their new day of a brand new, clean slate. However, on the other hand, by being reminded of the hated subjects every day could be physically and emotionally draining, and make the people less cheery, making them dread waking up in the morning, ultimately creating a feeling of negativity and negative energy. Realistically, in the world we live in today, it would be impossible to force people into watching the things they hate on a television, and then make them scream about it for precisely two minutes. Therefore, due to the negative and positive aspects of the Two Minute Hate, one may question whether or not the concept is ultimately successful and helpful or not.
1. Describe your reaction to a character, action, or idea you confronted in the section.
The Proximity between Power and Ignorance
Both Gabriella and Thiago scrutinized the practice of Two Minutes Hate, referring to it as something incredibly powerful, but yet unrealistic beyond the scope of the book. I would like to point out that Two Minutes Hate is not strictly particular to the reality in Oceania. Instead its manipulative nature is faithfully emulated in our modern day Brazilian televisions in the form of sensationalist TV shows such as "Na Mira", "Balanço Geral" and "Se Liga Bocão". The contents of such television shows rely on unashamedly divulging the criminality in the outskirts of the city of Salvador along with highlighting the falsely heroic efforts of the State in crushing such wrongdoings. The greatest flaw of such TV shows is not on their negligence with veracity but rather on their incapacity of giving reasons for such social turmoil or provoking the least sign of questioning within the audience. In simpler terms, these TV shows simply regurgitate the vices of our society to the audience, without the minimal case with social transformation. The result of watching such programs is thus obvious; the audience is inexorably enraged by such wrongdoings and touched by the State's inauthentic efforts, eventually leading to their devotion to a ruined system. Similarly to these nefarious TV shows, Two Minutes Hate is used as a political maneuver to generate a widespread sense of loyalty towards the Party in Orwell's 1984 through the propagation of hatred and the preservation of ignorance among the populace. Therefore, despite their subtle differences, both Two Minutes Hate and such sensationalist TV shows essentially explore the manipulation of information as a means of controlling human thought and behavior. Moreover, such parallels led me to the impression that Civil States have, thus far in the history of humanity, nurtured their political dominance by their populace’s ignorance. In fact, such idea is also presented in Part One of George Orwell’s 1984, as the narrator says:
“It was not desirable that the proles should have strong political feelings. All that was required of them was a primitive patriotism which could be appealed to whenever it was necessary to make them accept longer working hours or shorter rations. And even when they became discontented, as they sometimes did, their discontent led anywhere, because being without general ideas, they could only focus it on petty specific grievances. The larger evils invariably escaped their notice” (Orwell 71).
The fragment above clearly indicates that an important part of the Party’s dominance over the masses in Oceania relied on limiting their access to information, as without “general ideas” the populace would be unable to become politically conscious and subsequently revolt for the betterment of their life standards. Thus, ignorance would eventually compel the citizens into a state of complete subjugation to the principles of Ingsoc and of the Party. The proximity between intellectual manipulation and political power, highlighted by Orwell, thus, explains the instrumental role of propaganda in altering or maintaining a society’s status quo as well as provides an insight to the reason that public education is not usually treated as the fundamental asset of a country’s domestic policy.
Describe your reaction to a character, action, or idea you confronted in the section.
An Emotional connection and disconnection with the protagonists of 1984 and Brave New World
When we read books for pleasure, we tend to look for plotlines and characters that resonate with points in our lives, or aspects of our personalities. Ultimately we try to find connections between ourselves and the wonderful or terrible lives of others. This screening process is something that I perform in nearly all works of literature that I read, even those studied in English class. Unfortunately I have very mixed emotions towards the protagonists of both “Brave New World” and the “1984”. In both novels, we are confronted by a character that is capable of thinking more individualistically than the rest of the population in his or her society. Seeing as I was disgusted by the dystopian society of each novel, I immediately began cheering for the characters Bernard Marx and Winston Smith to make some sort of revolutionary breakthrough and change the mentality of the society around them. Bernard Marx ended up failing in my viewpoint, because he did not take any action against his society, he was indecisive. He conformed when given the chance and wished to maintain that way of life when his ability to conform was stripped him. Similarly, Winston Smith seemed like a character on the verge of a massive epiphany, ready to be inspired by his use of a diary and distaste with the people of the society around him. However, when Winston is not at home and contemplating the world he lives in he is working his job at the ministry of records. This is the same place that censors the present and past from society, preventing them from knowing any other reality that is the era of “Big Brother”. From my understanding of Winston, I expected to see him detest this kind of work and reject it, choosing instead to seek out Goldstein. On the contrary, “Winston’s greatest pleasure in life was his work”, revealing that he is much more of a hypocrite than I expected, and more in line with characters like Bernard Marx, who choose conformity when given the chance. (Orwell 44) As I mentioned at the beginning of the post, we tend to enjoy books with characters and plotlines that resonate with us and our story. Although I am extremely upset by the indecisiveness of both characters, I cannot help but be drawn to their very indecision. I myself feel like I am an enlightened soul who understands the system around me. However, as much as I hate institutionalization, I still conform at any given chance, because the reward of being successful within the system outweighs the struggle to liberate myself and others. Ultimately I could be happy living as I am instead of working for others and future generations, only to sacrifice my own contentment. So in a strange way I both love and hate Winston Smith and Bernard Marx. Although their story lines are not ideal with what we would expect in films and fantasy novels, in a strange sort of way, I still resonate with their perspectives on life and living.
Comment on the significance of a certain plot point or passage. What would the novel be like without it? How might a certain change in this scene affect the rest of the novel?
What is existence?
Who are we? What is truth and what is lies? How do we know? If the mind can be brainwashed into believing, what truth is there in anything really? In essence, it is the government in this society that manufactures artificial truth. The passage that proves this point is when Winston ponders the truth of what he knows and states, “For after all, how do we know that two and two makes four? Or that the force of gravity works? Or that the past is unchangeable? If both the past and the external world exist only in the mind, and if the mind itself is controllable - what then?” (Orwell 80). If perception in the brain can be manipulated, then so can everything one thinks. Winston’s use of rhetorical questions, asks these questions to the reader, not only relating this idea of truth to his own life, but to the audience’s life as well. Without this passage, the audience would never be able to understand how oppressed the people are and how the mind is controlled. This is an important theme in the novel: lies told repeatedly eventually become truth. The government has learned to control reality in a type of social conditioning like in Brave New World. The people have taught to be believe in one idea and one reality without being given another option or way of life. People are conditioned to believe that their social caste system is the only way in which order can be maintained. In 1984, the people are conditioned to believe that the reality they live in is perfect, more perfect than any other reality. Seeing how easily the mind is controlled in Brave New World and 1984, makes me scared to think that maybe my mind is also being manipulated. I am conditioned to believe that two plus two equals four. I am conditioned to belief that it is a force of gravity that holds me to the ground. However, what if two plus two isn’t true and is only a façade to hide greater knowledge? What if gravity is actually the work of some invisible chains of oppression holding us to the ground? Is there some greater power at work manipulating my mind? There is no way to determine what is right or what is wrong, yet thinking about the possibility gives power to thought and power to knowledge. This is something that the people in 1984 are deprived of and don’t even realize it.
Please click on the above link to review blog expectations. The instructions for this assignment as well as the reading calendar are downloadable in the document to your left.