THE MANIPULATION OF THE INFORMATION
I couldn't find in this novel another aspect more important than this of the manipulation. But it is not only referred to the information but also to the other components of the novel, i.e. the protagonists, the memory, the work, in one word the whole life of the characters.
The novel is full of examples of all this, so my work will consist on a revision and on a detailed statement of some of them.
The main element which manipulates everything is "Big Brother". He is supposed to be the head of the government in Oceania, but as it is revealed through out the novel we can see that he is not real, is just one more element to control everything:
He took a twenty-five cent piece out of his pocket. [.] and on the other face of the coin the head of Big Brother. Even from the coins the eyes pursued you. On coins, on stamps, on the covers of the books, on banners, on posters and on the wrapping of a cigarette packet- everywhere. [.] Asleep or awake, working or eating indoors or out of doors, in the bath or in bed-no escape. Nothing was your own except the few cubic centimetres inside your skull.
Winston is mainly concerned with this manipulation but I think that he does not realise that he is one of the main elements of manipulation. I mean that by his work he manipulates History, he changes the events as he is told to:
The messages he had received referred to articles or news-items which for one reason or another it was thought necessary to alter, or, as the official phrase had it, top rectify.
Day by day and almost minute by minute the past was brought up to date.
A number of the Times which might, [.], have been rewritten a dozen times still stood on the files bearing its original date, and no other copy existed to contradict it.
but the important thing is that he enjoys himself doing it:
With a faint feeling of satisfaction Winston laid the fourth message aside.[.] Winston's greatest pleasure in life was in his work. [.] Winston was good at this kind of thing
The most important consequence of all this manipulation is mainly that history is completely modified:
At this moment, for example, in 1984 (if it was 1984), Oceania was at war with Eurasia and in alliance with Eastasia.[.]. Actually, as Winston well knew, it was only four years since Oceania had been at war with Eastasia and in alliance with Eurasia. But that was a piece of furtive knowledge which he happened to posses because his memory was not satisfactorily under control.
It was not true, for example, as was claimed in the Party history books, that the Party had invented the aeroplanes. He remembered aeroplanes since his earliest childhood. But you could prove nothing. There was never any evidence.
By the end of the novel, after all the problems and sufferings that Winston has gone through he also accept this changes in History:
[.] (Oceania was at war with Eurasia: Oceania had always been at war with Eurasia)
This system of manipulating everything, forces in a manner the government to create a new language, where the meanings and even the thoughts can be controlled more precisely:
"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. [.] Every year fewer and fewer words, and the range of consciousness always a little smaller. The Revolution will be complete when the language is perfect.[.]"
More precisely in the language we can talk of new words for the new rules and aims of the Party as "blackwhite" and "doublethink":
The key word here is blackwhite. Like so many Newspeak words, this word has two mutually contradictory meanings. Applied to en opponent, it means the habit of impudently claiming that black is white, in contradiction of the plain facts. Applied to a Party member, it means a loyal willingness to say that black is white when Party discipline demands this. But it means also the ability to believe that black is white, and more, to know that black is white, and to forget that one has ever believe the contrary. This demands as a continuos alteration of the past, made possible by the system of thought which really embraces all the rest, and which is known in Newspeak as doublethink.
It need hardly be said that the subtlest practitioners of doublethink are those who invented doublethink and know that it is a vast system of mental cheating. [.] In general the greater the understanding, the greater the delusion: the more intelligent, the less the sane.
And here we have the very definition of doublethink:
Doublethink means the power of holding two contradictory beliefs in one's mind simultaneously, and accepting both of them. [.] Doublethink lies at the very heart of Ingsoc. [.] Even in using the word doublethink it is necessary to exercise doublethink.
Not only the language is used to persuade and change people, but also Science is used for this. In this way It is totally used for the purposes of the Party and not for the Science itself:
In Newspeak there is no word for "Science". The Empirical method of thought, on which all the scientific achievements of the past were founded, is opposed to the most fundamental principles of Ingsoc. And even technological progress only happens when its products can in some way be used for the diminution of human liberty.
All the novel tries to persuade us of the great influence and domination that the government has over the people. But where we can see that this is really true is in the next lines:
On the sixth day of Hate Week, [.], it had been announced that Oceania was not after all at war with Eurasia. Oceania was at war with Eastasia. Eurasia was an ally.[.] The next moment there was tremendous commotion.[.] It was sabotage. [.] One minute more, and the feral roars of rage were again bursting from the crowd. The Hate continued exactly as before, except that the target had been changed.
Here we can see how controlled they are that just saying a word, they all believe what they hear, and they are convinced of the sabotage. They don't realised that who decorated the city with the pamphlets and everything were themselves and no one else. They just believe what they are told to.
But without any doubt what has impressed me most of this novel is the fall of the protagonist. He is in the novel almost the only hope for this system to be abolished, but he is weaker than we think, and the government is more intelligent too. I say this because their emphasis in not killing him until he is cured is the best way for having everybody controlled because as they say somewhere:
Shall I tell you why we have brought you here? To cure you! To make you sane![.] "The first thing for you to understand is that in this place there are no martyrdoms.[.] In the Middle Ages there was the Inquisition. It was
a failure [.] because it killed its enemies in the open, and while they were still unrepentant. [.] Naturally all the glory belonged to the victim. [.] We do not make mistakes of that kind. [.] When finally you surrender to us, it must be on your own free will.
So this is definitely the way I want to finish this work, showing the change in the mind of the protagonist, seeing the end of all hope, of all way of changing the system:
Freedom is the freedom to say two plus two make four. If that is granted, all else follows.
In the end the Party would announce that two and two made five, and you would have to believe it.
Writing in his cell: FREEDOM IS SLAVERY. TWO AND TWO MAKE FIVE. GOD IS POWER.