Through the Interactive oral, I deepened my understanding of the cultural and contextual considerations of 1984 by George Orwell. By discussing the themes of physical control and psychological manipulation, we gained an insight into Orwell’s warning about totalitarianism.
Totalitarianism is an official ideology to find the “perfect” state of a human with the hierarchy of one superior leader: Big Brother. Orwell was a propagandist during the World War II, working for the British government. As he wrote the book, the government had him under surveillance in precaution for his socialist opinions. This is reflected in 1984, as we explored the theme of physical control. Just like Orwell, the citizens are constantly being watched. Whether it was through the telescreen or through a microphone, there was no sense of freedom, for “BIG BROTHER IS WATCHING YOU!”.
Where the two main characters, Julia and Winston, are together in a room, persuaded through their trust into Mr Charrington that there isn’t anyone watching them. As they admired the bed in which they were going to sleep in, Julia says that the bed is “full of bugs”, foreshadowing that they are being listened. This is true because, in the end, they get caught by Mr Charrington himself, the store owner and a thought police. This is significant because this reflects the characteristics of totalitarianism that Orwell is trying to warn the readers about, that if it comes over power, there is no such thing as freedom.
In addition, just like Room 101, there was a conference room at the BBC Orwell worked for during his propagandist career. It was known for some of the most horrifying scenes he did, just like in 1984. Room 101 contained one’s greatest fear that was unbearable to endure. This reflects the theme of psychological manipulation, where the Party would torture one until they give in to the Big brother, just like Winston. With his strong love towards Julia, he was determined to not betray her. However, he was unable to when he was threatened by rats, screaming, “Do it to Julia! Not me!”.
This was the Party’s way of brainwashing their citizens. By Winston accepting Big Brother as the Government, Winston is no longer had the individual thoughts that made him human. With “the long-hoped-for bullet entering his brain”, it metaphorically emphasises that he is now dead. Throughout the book, it was assumed that once you have been caught by the thought police, you are sentenced to death after confessing the crimes. However, just as it describes with Winston, they are now one of the Party’s figures, dead in the soul, fully supporting the Party.
Thus by discussing the themes of physical control and psychological manipulation, I was able to delve deeper into the novel. Taking into consideration the cultural and contextual factors, I was able to grasp Orwell’s perception of totalitarianism, a corrupted nation that is overpowered by power itself over the citizens.