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Freedom vs. Oppression in "1984"

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andreia gomes

on 9 April 2015

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Transcript of Freedom vs. Oppression in "1984"

In the novel "1984", protagonist Winston Smith wrestles with oppression in Oceania, a place where the party scrutinizes human actions with ever-watchful Big Brother. Defying a ban on individuality, Winston dares to express his thoughts through a hidden diary and pursue his rebellious relationship with Julia. Author George Orwell writes of a dystopian society in which the citizens of Oceania are oppressed because of the most powerful, "God-like" figure, Big Brother, does not allow freedom of thought, freedom of speech, or freedom to feel any real emotion for someone.
Freedom of Thought
The most obvious lack of freedom in the novel "1984" is portrayed through the idea of, "Thoughtcrime". Thoughtcrime is thinking of anything that the Thought Police and the Party deem is illegal. Illegal is anything that creates individuality--not the best thing for the Party as a whole. They want Party members to remain isolated so that no one can team together and rebel like the Proles. Freedom of thought is poor in Oceania. Winston's diary is a hidden book filled with thoughts he knows may lead to becoming imprisoned.
Quotes and Analysis
Freedom of Emotion
Oppression in "1984" had a large impact on emotion and the way people portrayed their feelings in Oceania. From birth, The Party enforced no emotion. Citizens were taught that having sex and falling in love was not acceptable. The Party believed that without emotion, it would be easier to control its citizens. The most obvious relationship in the novel is the love affair between Julia and Winston. When Julia and Winston fell in love, their relationship was hidden. From meeting at Victory Square to hiding above Mr. Charrington's shop, their passionate and sexual relationship remained a secret. Both did not fear the consequences of being caught by the Thought Police and being punished. The tremendous lack of emotion in Orwell's novel impacts its citizens to become oppressed.
"If you loved someone, you loved him and when you had nothing to give you still gave him love." (Orwell, 171-172)
This quote is significant in that it proves that no matter the situation, ones love for Big Brother was unconditional. It takes Winston his entire life - pain and suffering- to realize that, "He loved Big Brother." (Orwell, 311)


Freedom of Speech
In the novel "1984", members of the Party lack freedom of speech. The proles are the only citizens of Oceania who truly have freedom of speech. For instance, they are able to speak their minds and sing freely. The "upperclass" has less freedom of speech and power in comparison to the lower class. The citizens would avoid speaking aloud about their likes or dislikes in a conversation. Everything said aloud was always kept on record via telescreens, thought police or members of the part and could be used against them. The limited opportunity members of the party are given permission to speak aloud occurs during the Two Minute Hate.
Freedom vs. Oppression in "1984"
Quotes & Analysis
Introduction
Quotes and Analysis
This short clip demonstrates Winston's rebellious ideas to take down Big Brother. Little does he know he will later experience a torturous time where he realizes Big Brother cannot be taken down. This clip also greatly shows how watchful the telescreens can be and how everything can be questioned in Oceania. Winston is lacking his freedom of speech.
Secondary Source
"Don't you see that the whole aim of Newspeak is to narrow the range of thought? In the end we shall make thoughtcrime literally impossible because there will be no words in which to express it."
(Orwell, 55)
By reducing foolish and "fighting" words, the Party seeks to narrow the range of thought altogether, such that eventually thoughtcrime will be literally impossible.
"TWO AND TWO MAKE FIVE" (Orwell, 290)
The most simple yet one of the most empowering quote from the novel is when O'Brien, as part of Big Brother, is able to brainwash Winston into believing that 2+2 really does make 5 if Big Brother says so.
In the end the Party would announce that two and two made five, and you would have to believe it. It was inevitable that they should make that claim sooner or later: the logic of their position demanded it. Not merely the validity of experience, but the very existence of external reality was tacitly denied by their philosophy.

Early in the novel, Winston writes that, “Freedom is the freedom to say that two plus two make four” (Orwell, 84). This large idea comes to an end after the torture Winston suffers in the Ministry of Love. Winston sits at the Chestnut Tree Café and traces “2 + 2 = 5” in the dust on his table.
"To die hating them, that was freedom" (Orwell, 294)
Once one is suspected of committing thoughtcrime, the Thought Police come to arrest you. The consequences of committing thoughtcrime is endless. You may be taken to work in a labour camp or vaporize you, wiping out your entire existence. The harsh Big Brother and its Inner Party do not care of anyone's existence... after all to the Party, "The individual is only a cell." (Orwell, 276 )
(Orwell, 4)
"When you make love you're using up energy; and afterward you feel happy and don't give a damn for anything. They cant bear you to feel like that. They want you to be bursting with energy all the time. All this marching up and down and cheering and waving flags is simply sex gone sour. If you're happy inside yourself, why would you get excited about Big Brother and the Three Year Plans and the Two Minutes Hate and all the rest of their bloody rot?" (Orwell, 139)
This quote demonstrates the reasoning why Big Brother enforces no emotion/relationships. "The sex impulse was dangerous to the Party, and the Party has turned to it account." (Orwell, 140) The Party feared that emotion would corrupt Big Brother and leave Oceania's citizens uncontrollable.
Can Language also be used to Limit Emotion?
In the article, "Using Language to Control Emotions and Thought," the author creates arguments to Big Brother's idea for Newspeak. The article states, "But you can't really say, "Just don't teach children the word 'anger' and then no child will ever be angry", because children will still be angry, just now without a name to call what they are." This statement recognizes that The Party's actions to prevent thoughtcrime from occurring is unreasonable. Newspeak may limit the citizens of Oceania's vocabulary but this will not result in not having feelings, the citizens will simply have no way of expressing their feelings using words. The article also makes the point that, "What might Orwell's government not want its members to feel? I think: any emotion that would allow an individual to separate himself [step out of line] from the mass," and, "As if, if we did not have words such as 'smells bad' nothing would smell bad to us, or, as if, if we had no words for 'being tired' no one would ever feel tired. So, or at least it seems, that in some cases there are clearly limits to what can be done with language, government propaganda." Both strong statements prove that in a way, The Party's concept of Newspeak used to prevent thoughtcrime, may infact work in Big Brother's favor to manipulate its citizens.
Works Cited
Wittgenstein, Ludwig. "Using Language to Control
Emotions and Thought."
Wittgenstein's Logic of Language"
N.p., Sept. 1998. Web. 6 Apr. 2015.
"For the first time he perceived that if you want to keep a secret you must also hide it from yourself."
(Orwell, 294)

In the context of the novel, it meant that any secret could be extracted from external forces, especially thought torture, thought police and manipulation by others, all leading to oppression.
"He had moved from thoughts to words and now from words to actions." (Orwell, 130)

Winston says this because his sign of hope was starting his diary. By doing this he demonstrates the fear that Big Brother imposes on him and all the citizens.
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