Monday, May 5, 2008

The Chestnut Tree

After Winston is released from the Ministry of Love we find him sitting in the Chestnut Tree Cafe. Earlier in the book Winston mentions how the Cafe was where thought criminals like Rutherford spent a great deal of their time. It is ironic that in the end he should end up in the same place. The Chestnut Tree Cafe is by all accounts a quite depressing place. It is the place one goes after they have been tortured, but before they have been killed. The ironic thing is that Winston is happy there, probably happier than he has ever been. He no longer has any worries, he can simply trust in Big Brother and everything will be fine. He is in many ways more free than other party members, he does not have to worry about being seen speaking to others, as he would have been before he entered the Ministry of Love. The Chestnut Tree Cafe is the place Winston first sees Julia after that disastrous day in the room above Mr. Charrington's shop. At that point there is nothing left between them. They no longer love each other, they don't really have any true emotions left to them. Winston is in the Cafe when he hears a song coming from the telescreen.

Under the spreading chestnut tree
I sold you and you sold me

It's true, Winston and Julia did sell each other, they betrayed each other to save themselves. Now Winston sits in the Chestnut Tree Cafe alone. There is something about that last scene, that is deeply affecting. The way Winston's love for Julia along with his very being has been so completely destroyed and yet he is happy. For he now has a new love the love of Big Brother and there he sits in the Chestnut Tree Cafe.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Somebody's watching you!

In 1984 the people of Oceania are constantly under surveillance. The thought police have many different ways of watching you. They use telescreens, if you have children they are trained to watch you, so are neighbors and coworkers, no where is private, you are always being watched. Can you imagine what that's like? Never to have any privacy, no where you can go to just be alone. In 1984 it says "Winston set his face in an expression of optimism". You can't even let your face show what you feel or the thought police will catch you. The party admits that they watch the citizens "Big Brother is watching you" and it's true, but Big Brother isn't the only one, he's got all sorts of people behind him.

Here in Canada we feel safe. No one's watching us, are they? We are free to think and do what we want, right? I used to think so, but now I'm not so sure. You see we are being watched and influenced, the difference is that the way in which these things are being done to us is more subtle. Have you ever been watching TV when suddenly it's interrupted by a commercial, yes I know you have, that is a form of persuasion, influencing what you think. As for the surveillance thing, next time you're at the mall look around and count the number of security cameras. If the government thinks you may be a threat to national security they can watch you and follow you. In the US they have started implanting chips in people. Chips with all their information, all their numbers, everything about them. The way in which they sell the idea to people is first by putting these chips in pets then telling people it's safer for them to have the chip, that it will save them from identity theft and things of that sort. I think it's really creepy. So you see the way in which we are observed is different and not as extreme as the society in 1984, but there are still people watching us.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Recreating the Past

"Comrade Ogilvy, unimagined an hour ago, was now a fact. It struck him as curious that you could create dead men but not living ones. Comrade Ogilvy, who had never existed in the present, now existed in the past, and when once the act of forgery was forgotten, he would exist just as authentically, and upon the same evidence, as Charlemagne or Julius Caesar."

I can not imagine doing Winston's job. To know something, to have proof of it in your hands and then replace it with a complete fabrication and destroy all evidence that the they made up story is not the truth. That is the ultimate doublethink, changing something one's self then having to believe that your made up story is reality. The destruction of the past is, to me, one of the most frightening of the many horrific things the party has done. If you do not know your past then what do you have? If you can't trust your memories, what can you trust? The party that's who. They take away your trust in yourself and then tell you that if you follow the party everything will be OK, that Big Brother will take care of you. It's hard to believe that all the people of Oceania would accept this, the constant changing of their past. Although if you think about it for a moment you can see how it would be easier and safer to simply believe what the party is saying. If you don't want to be tracked down by the thought police and tortured it would be wise to forget everything you remember.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Children and Brainwashing

In 1984 the party is constantly brainwashing the people of Oceania. They are trying to make them believe that the party is wonderful, that Big Brother is amazing and that everyone should love, and be loyal, only to the party. The way the party brainwashes people is quite effective. They start young, the spies, the youth leagues, these are all ways for them to get to children, to get them on their side, to turn them into obedient little party members. The Spies reminds me a great deal of the Hitler Youth. They have the same philosophy, grab them when they're young and impressionable, and then stuff them so full of propaganda that they believe what ever you tell them.

You see the effects of this childhood brainwashing in Julia. She has been subjected to the party's propaganda all of her life and in some ways she is far more immune to it than Winston, but in other ways she believes just what they want her to. Julia says that if you follow the important rules, go to the rallies and marches and such, you can break the little rules without worrying too much. Winston on the other hand, before he met Julia, would just as soon skip his evening at the community centre as go and be an obedient party member. However Julia doesn't seem to have a problem with the way the party changes the past. How really there is no concrete past only a constantly changing present. She seems to think it is inevitable and nothing particularly important, where as Winston is terrified by it.

There are other reasons for having organizations like the spies. When the party gathers children into groups like the spies they are creating a network of miniature thought police. Once they have been taught to believe the party knows all they are no longer loyal to anyone but them. Children will willingly denounce their family members to the thought police. That is the ultimate horror to have your own children betray you.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Language and thought define reality. The party is creating a new language, it is called newspeak. Newspeak is similar to English with a large amount of words left out. For instance if you took a word like "good" and it's opposite "bad", in newspeak they would not use the word bad they would simply say "ungood". In this way they destroy words and with that the ability to express ones self. The idea behind this is, if there is no word to express an idea they can stop you from saying or thinking anything they don't want you to. When newspeak is finished thought crime will be impossible. The thought of not having a language that you can express yourself in even in thought is a frightening one.

Friday, March 14, 2008

The Party

War is Peace
Freedom is Slavery
Ignorance is Strength

These are the slogans of the Party. The Party is the political group in charge of Oceania, it is lead by Big Brother. There are huge posters of Big Brother every where in London and they say "Big Brother is watching you." The thought of a big brother brings images of protection, security, someone to look up to. This Big Brother is not quite the same though. He delivers, as most party ideas seem to, contradictory feelings. At once he is there to comfort and help you and also to observe you and make sure you do not step out of line. The party controls everything their members do. They rule with an iron fist. They have the power to rewrite history and with the help of the thought police they can make anyone disappear.

The party uses huge amounts of propaganda to control the minds of the common people. The posters, the telescreens even other people are constantly hurling propaganda at the characters in nineteen eighty-four. Party members have telescreens in their homes which can never be turned off, only down. There are posters of Big Brother on every corner watching. There is no privacy and propaganda is everywhere.

Monday, March 10, 2008

the beginning

Nineteen Eighty-Four starts on a bright cold day in April, this introduction would have automatically brought to the minds of Orwell's readers the poem the waist land by T. S Elliot, the first line of which says, April is the cruelest month. Automatically Orwell's readers would have perceived some for-shadowing. Also in the first sentence it says "the clocks were striking thirteen." As thirteen is in western society perceived as unlucky here is even more evidence that something bad is coming.