In 1984, the control of language is used to brainwash the citizens to control thought.
This is accomplished from the abuse of power of people of very high authority such as The Thought Police, The Inner Party members, and Big Brother.Typically, people use their own native language to express their thoughts or how they are feeling. We would not be able to think properly if we could not comprehend any language. However, the totalitarian-like government that is portrayed in the novel, does not allow the citizens to express their thoughts using their native language. A so-called “Newspeak” language was introduced, and all the citizens had to speak this language in order to keep themselves from torture and life imprisonment.
There were four “Ministries” created in order to implement balance in the ability to control one’s self thought. In Part One of the novel, it states, “They were the homes of the four Ministries between which the entire apparatus of government was divided. The Ministry of Truth, which concerned itself with news, entertainment, education, and the fine arts. The Ministry of Peace, which concerned itself with war.
The Ministry of Love, which maintained law and order. And the Ministry of Plenty, which was responsible for economic affairs. Their names, in Newspeak: Minitrue, Minipax, Miniluv, and Miniplenty.” (4).
Ironically, all the Ministries have nothing to do with what is in their names. In fact, they are pretty much the exact opposite. The Ministries’ sole purpose was to scare everyone into following the rules of the dystopian government.In Part Three of the novel, Winston is seen being tortured by one of the Party members, O’Brien, in order to cure him from his “political insanity”. Winston was arrested by O’Brien earlier in the novel when he was being surveillanced by security cameras in a store.
He was caught thinking about the conclusion of Goldstein’s book, “The Theory and Practice of Oligarchical Collectivism” which violated the law since it was a book about English Socialism. As O’Brien was punishing Winston, he states, “We control matter because we control the mind. Reality is inside the skull…” (264-265).
O’Brien is trying to explain to Winston his views of a reality that is solely mind-dependent. He wants a reality where actions outside the mind are not possible, which is an aspect of a dystopia. As Winston is continued to be tortured, O’Brien continues to explain to Winston that the physical existence of oneself is not real. The novel states, “Winston shrank back upon the bed. Whatever he said, the swift answer crushed him like a bludgeon.
And yet he knew, he knew, that he was in the right. The belief that nothing exists outside your own mind – surely there must be some way of demonstrating that it was false? Had it not been exposed long ago as a fallacy? There was even a name for it, which he had forgotten. A faint smile twitched the corners of O’Brien’s mouth as he looked down at him. ‘I told you, Winston,” he said, “that metaphysics is not your strong point. The word you are trying to think of is solipsism. But you are mistaken.
This is not solipsism.'” (266). Those who believe in solipsism believe that everything they see outside of their mind is an illusion of a sort, and nothing is real. In other words, the only person that exists is oneself. O’Brien tries to argue the point that since Winston is not living in a solipsistic world, he should not be allowed to express his feelings in desires because they will affect everyone else, especially people of higher authority such as Big Brother. O’Brien brainwashes Winston and disallows him to believe in his own beliefs, and manipulates his mind into believing the beliefs of the totalitarian system.
In conclusion, language is a very important form of self control in the real world since it controls our thoughts. Orwell’s novel 1984, is an excellent example of how language is used to control thought. The setting of a dystopian society in the novel demonstrates a great portrayal of what it is like to not be able to control thought through language.
Through seeing the negative aspects of 1984, it makes readers aware of the true importance of thought and language.