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Essay anglais - 1984 de George Orwell

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How has Orwell powerfully conveyed the impact of the system on the lives of citizens?

It is through Winston’s thoughts, dialogues and the description of secondary characters that we understand the impact of the system on the lives of citizens.  Without this, the reader would not be able to have all of these details. If it weren’t for these elements, we would only have objective facts.

Thanks to Winston, we are given two sides to how ignorant or as Orwell would say, “unconscious”, citizens living in Oceania are. One of the first things we notice when reading the novel, is the Party’s motto: “WAR IS PEACE - FREEDOM IS SLAVERY - IGNORANCE IS STRENGTH”. Big Brother is actually saying that not having citizens know about the reality of things comes to its advantage. When Winston writes his diary, he keeps it a secret. The only time he will discuss something possibly related to his writing is when he talks to Syme. They both are not fooled or gullible to the Party lies. The two men represent threats, because they want to remember life before Big Brother, and they do. Quite vaguely, but they still do. The reader also knows about O’Brien and Julia, important secondary characters in the novel. Here, we also learn about Winston’s thoughts on women. He can be attracted to them, but does not trust them. Why? Because he believes that they are more orthodox, more likely to denounce Winston if they find out that he is writing a diary. And, if that does happen, he will be vaporized, because he commited a Thoughtcrime. So, Winston’s silent rebellion would have failed. However, it is difficult to make an impact on your own. He realizes that “until they become conscious they will never rebel, and until after they have rebelled they cannot become conscious”. That is why keeping his diary a secret is essential but he also has to try and find a way to balance out speaking up, by joining the Brotherhood for example.

“The past was erased, the erasure was forgotten, the lie became the truth”. This quote explains the job of the Ministry of Truth. The name is a paradox because ironically, workers take facts that Big Brother wants, and makes sure that they become the truth, whether it is correct or not. “Who controls the past controls the future. Who controls the present controls the past”. So, what they are doing is basically changing the thoughts of the people, making them conform to what the Party wants them to believe. Here, Orwell has shown the inexistence of liberty of speech, and the power Big Brother has over Oceanian citizens. The Party just manipulates them, because of its craving for power and its fear of being rebelled against. Syme is working on Newspeak, and so he says “It’s a beautiful thing, the destruction of words”. It is an illegal thing to do, however, it is helpful to the Party because “the aim of Newspeak is to narrow the range of thought”. This is a form of Thoughtcrime. It explains why later in the novel, Syme is vaporized.

The reader is able to understand the poor living conditions of Oceanian citizens thanks to Winston. First of all, we learn about his varicose ulcer. This is proof that the Party and the Ministry of Plenty do not invest money in health facilities, but only in war and surveillance equipment. Another factor that tells more about scarcity is the food. Winston said that the hallway of Victory Mansions smelt of cabbage, demonstrating that everyone eats it, because it is what is available. Speaking of Victory Mansions, the building Smith lives in is in terrible condition: no functioning elevator and no running electricity during the daytime. On one of the walls, a large poster saying “Big Brother is watching you” is hung, as if it were a warning to citizens. This creates an unwelcoming atmosphere for people to live in.


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