Language has been used for varying reasons in the society although certain individuals consume it under specific circumstances without questioning it while others remain conscious of the manner language is used. George Orwell is a writer who has published many literary works which are highly regarded. The author is interested in the power of language, and in particular, its abuse and misuse. An analysis of his 1984 work indicates that the author wants to bring awareness regarding the dangers of manipulation and misuse of language that have led to its decline. According to the author, language can be used in politics to mask the truth and mislead people, thus controlling the manner in which people think as well as manipulating the past. Throughout the novel, the author proves the claim by focusing on the language of Newspeak.
Language according to Orwell is primary to controlling the totalitarian. He further demonstrates that when the language and media repeatedly abuse language, it can result in a society where people obey the government without any questions and accept all sorts of propaganda as a reality mindlessly. Moreover, the author explains how reality can be shaped by using language to alter and manipulate history. Thus, language can be used as a tool to control the mind with the ultimate objective of destroying imagination and will. Language forms the central theme of Orwell's work. According to Paul Chilton, the root of the theme can be linked to the Tower of Babel. The civilization that contributed to the construction of the Tower has suffered confusion ever since God destroyed it. Because of the curse, language does not lucidly express the nature of things, but instead significantly distorts them (Berkes 1).
Oceania totalitarian state lives in a constant war where the main Party struggles in keeping the public satisfied and subscribed with the warfare only as an ideology to brainwash them from the prevailing reality. When the public does not subscribe to the government's ideology and is dissatisfied, they spark their outrage against the ruling party by resenting food shortages as well as rebellion against the government (Berkes 1). The government on their side of war would respond by distracting the public away from issues that seem not to suit the warfare through the media. The media is used to express ideas that seem neutral or even positive issues about the war from which they succeed in soothing the angry and resentful public.
Media exists a powerful manipulative tool since the public explicitly trusts it as a result of the wide exposure. News and propaganda are transmitted to the public through the media from which they celebrate "good news" and are also angered by "bad news" but only due to the language used in delivering such stories. According to Orwell, the people are uniquely enslaved by the media since they consider it to be an oracle. In instances when telescreens advance the Two Minutes Hate, people are seen to be driven to fury; "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!'" (16). In Nineteen Eighty-Four for instance as shown by Orwell, medial controlled certain means through which the people applied in thinking about and accessing the outside world. Government distorts reality through politicized language transmitted to the masses from which lies are repeated only to be accepted as the truth.
According to Orwell, the media was partisan and ill-used as it never reported the "twenty or thirty rocket bombs a week falling on London" (28), but they focused on the overwhelming reports on good news that could induce happiness in peoples' lives. As reported by Winston's telescreen in the play, "Our forces in South India have won a glorious victory. I am authorized to say that the action we are now reporting may well bring the war within measurable distance of its end" (28). It was clear to the media as used by the government that reporting on the rocket bombs in London would spark outrage that otherwise will make it hard for the government to control the masses. The media would otherwise choose language that would give hope to the public rather than those enlightening them on the ills befalling the society. The government through the media chose to explain victory with no accounts in any cases of failure.
From Orwell's Newspeak, this is what the ultra-political language that was introduced in Nineteen Eighty-Four does, it helps to facilitate the deceit and manipulation, thus facilitating restriction in understanding the real world (Woodcock 2). Moreover, Chilton suggests that the post-Babel languages have a closed system that contains views of the world which cannot be translated. Hence, it is certain that Newspeak was motivated by the motive of isolating people from the real world. More often, people attempt to expand their lexicon. However, according to Orwell, the government in Nineteen Eighty-Four was targeting a reduction of Newspeak's vocabulary. According to one of the workers, the vocabulary of Newspeak was declining each year as the government was targeting to cut it to the bone. The reason why the government was manipulating language was to alter the manner in which the public was thinking (Berkes 1).
The government was keen on altering the public thinking because people were only allowed to use only certain words in their communication, it will definitely affect the manner in which they think. Linguist Benjamin Lee was also a firm believer that thought and language had a close connection. That is, if words which are supposed to describe a certain thought are absent from one language, it will be difficult to have that thought and communicate it. Through this strategy, it was difficult for individuals to have heretical thoughts, thus achieving the goal of the Inner Party. The engineer finishes by saying that thought crime will become impossible in the end, because of the absence of words that will be used in expression (Berkes 1).
Newspeak was designed to shorten people's memories and narrow the range of thoughts. This was an ideal system for the totalitarian government, which relied on the passive public with no autonomous thought. Thus, in such a system, the public could tolerate past and present mistakes on a larger scale. When language expands, the people's ability to think also increases. Conversely, the attempt by Newspeak to curtail language could also have a proportionate effect on the range of thought. Features such as self-reference and reduced complexity were used by Newspeak to restrict thought. The private party was contented with narrowed public thought (Berkes 1). This is because if members of the public lack the ability to think vividly will pose a little threat to the government. However, if individuals have the freedom to develop and explore language, they will criticize the government and defend themselves if threatened with any kind of harm.
According to Orwell in his play, language is considered to be of central significance in behavioral control where it is argued that to eliminate disobedience and rebellion then language control was necessary for that country. The centrality of language in shaping public opinion and the manner in which the government performs is enhanced in the play through the contextual manifesto (Berkes 1). In fact, the Newspeak dictionary as brought into place by Orwell explored history, power, life, and culture, as well as behavior, concepts, and thoughts as key in shaping social conduct. However, according to Lehman, 1984 was the period that defined what it was to be human through the ironic shredding of universal values including love, freedom of through, and family in an individual (1). The play was tremendously unique and influential as explored how human freedom would be eroded through language.
Language is a functional inhibitive tool against thoughts since they largely depend on language. No thoughts could be heard without the use of the exact words used to express it. In fact, reality exists only if the language is used to express it to ensure its social significance and meaning, as well as values, come into being through the use of linguistic terms and means (Zolyan 2). In such line, then the society is shaped in the direction that those shaping communal meaning through language wish or want. In fact, government's thoughts are delivered to the public and accessed by shaping lies to seem like the truth that every citizen must consume irrespective of the impact it will have provided that the government meets its objective in remaining relevant.
The government has complete control over history thus making it quite unfortunate for the masses to access undistorted facts since the media uses language to re-engineer truth into lies since it language links history, in this case, distortion of facts, reality, and the truth. According to Mount, the language as a link to history is realized, "I was living proof that Orwell had fulfilled his own injunction that prose should be like a window pane" (1). Winston telescreen distorts news and all factual documents and replaces them with all that the government wishes passed to the citizens. The process of replacing truthful documents with engineered ones gives the media a method of controlling the masses. As Orwell cites, "this processes of continuous alteration was applied not only to newspapers but to books, periodicals, pamphlets, posters, leaflets" (42). As a result, it would be quite hard for the public ever to gain access to the truth since the government has used the media's influencing in availing propaganda.
Orwell illustrates that "day by day and almost minute by minute the past was brought up to date. In this way every prediction made by the Party could be shown by documentary evidence to have been correct; nor was any item of news, or any expression of opinion, which conflicted with the needs of the moment, ever allowed to remain on record" (42). The process of misinforming the public through the distortion of documents that could have otherwise given valid information conflicts every person including those involved in the malicious falsification of lies to make them truthful. The process of manufacturing evidence works for the party since also the main character finds it hard to remember what the truth was although he knows that documents are falsified.
Recalling who or what Oceania stood for in the past and is presently at warfare with such as either Eurasia or Eastasia troubles Winston to the point that at the end of the play he acknowledges being prepared to access the distorted truth, Party's reality (Berkes 1). In Orwell's novel philosophy takes the shape of some of the actions and statements as he asks; if all available evidence shows something to be true, is it not true? Winston struggles with this idea of "Reality control" (37) in his Ministry of Truth task. The government manipulates truth by using language that shows everything to be true irrespective of its account or position in the truthful information validly available before distortion.
"The frightening thing," Winston thinks to himself, "is that it might all be true. If the Party can thrust its hand into the past and say of this or that event, it never happened - that, surely, is more terrifying than mere torture and death" (36). From Winston's behavior, it can be seen how harmful it is to feed the public with wrong accounts of the events happening in the society from the complete comparison of the actions to be dangerous that death or torture. In fact, the idea that comes into being is the threats misinformation has on the community at the expense of truthful accounts of all that happens and that needs to be communicated.
The media fails in its role of informing the public and lettin...
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