The American writer William Faulkner said The past is never dead. It’s not even past. 1984, by George Orwell, projects a dystopia where everything is under control of the government, known as the Party.
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Winston Smith, a man who works for the Party in the Ministry of Truth, begins to see through the Party’s corrupted rule of control and becomes discontent with the infinite time loop instilled by the Party. Winston sees how the past is constantly being rewritten and erased by the Party, and how the future is stalled beyond the looped oscillation of his current period. Relics of a time before the Partythe glass paperweight and Mr. Charrington’s rhymeas well as the Party’s control of time create a desire in Winston to discover a lost past and possible future beyond the manipulation of the Party.
The Party features a totalitarian system of government, comprised of Ingsoc, Big Brother and the Thought Police, often boasting BIG BROTHER IS WATCHING YOU. Telescreens scrutinize the actions of every person, the Party regulates the memory and information of all the people, and any ideas or thoughts against the Party are considered thoughtcrime. Newspeak is one way this regulation is enforced. Talking to Winston in the canteen, Syme says 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 72). As Syme points out, Newspeak limits and simplifies the use of words, including words that could be directed in hostility at or in opposition to the Party. Doublethink, in Oldspeak known as reality control, is the method in which people are to prevent themselves from committing thoughtcrime. Being a part of Newspeak, the term sounds relatively simple and straightforward, but there are several depths of doublethink instilled in the people to maintain the Party’s control.
Doublethink is the main principle exercised by the Party to keep everyone’s thoughts in check, but it is also used to negate past events. When thinking about doublethink, Winston reflects that it is the ultimate subtlety: consciously to induce unconsciousness, and then, once again, to become unconscious of the act of hypnosis you had just performed (Orwell 50). This complex and paradoxical concept of denial is to be applied to anything and everything. When looking over the Party’s government, Winston realizes:
The Ministry of Peace concerns itself with war, the Ministry of Truth with lies, the Ministry of Love with torture, and the Ministry of Plenty with starvation. These contradictions are not accidental, nor do they result from ordinary hypocrisy: they are deliberate exercises in doublethink. For it is only by reconciling contradictions that power can be retained indefinitely. In no other way could the ancient cycle be broken.
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