Consciousness & Language in George Orwell’s 1984

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Newspeak is the official language of Oceania. It is the depletion of words. The Party wanted to make it impossible to commit thoughtcrimes by literally erasing all of the negative words that one would use. Oldspeak is what Winston and the proles spoke in. By 1984, most people had abandoned Oldspeak. The Party did not bother teaching the proles the new language because they didn’t care about them. The proles have a conscience but they are not conscience of their consciousness. Winston could not bring himself to use Newspeak because he still had a sense of emotions that did not exist in Newspeak. Winston can still remember and thinks he can feel a sense of family, love, and guilt. The only emotions other people felt were pain, hatred and loyalty to the Party. Speaking in Oldspeak was a sign of consciousness. Throughout the book Winston grew to a stronger sense of awareness. The memories he began to acquire made him realize the lies the Party told. Winston was able to recall his memories because he used language and thought. The party believed Proles and animals are free. They were free to use thought and Oldspeak. They are somewhat conscious of themselves. Proles don’t care about anything the Party would call important, so they are allowed to think what they want without having to fear the Party. They are allowed to think what they want. They are allowed to marry whom they want and spend their time how they please. This leads the reader to assume that although they are not educated, they have some sort of decision making process. Even if they do not make use of it they have it. On page 71, the book explains that the Proles needed to be kept in subjection, but they were not necessarily watched. The Party felt no need to keep to harsh of a watchful eye on them because they weren’t smart enough to be a threat to the Party; and if one had become risk, one would be killed. The way they were controlled was being occupied by beer and gambling. The Proles were free to marry whom they wanted. This shows they are conscious of feelings towards another Human being. They have a sense family. They did not call each other comrades like the Party. They raised their children without preparing them for the Party. This meant that the children were less likely to turn on their parents. The Party did not marry a person based on their emotional feelings, they married someone convenient. In fact, Party members were not allowed to marry if they had been attracted to their partner. On page 70, Winston writes in his diary, “Until they become conscious they will never rebel, and until after they have rebelled they cannot become conscious”. Winston believes they are not free. You cannot be liberated without consciousness. Therefore, the Proles will never be conscious. However, the proles are conscious because they speak in Oldspeak, they just have a different type of consciousness than Winston.

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