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In the novel, Big Brother symbolizes a totalitarian government that uses surveillance and propaganda to control its citizens. The phrase has come to define the collective fear of oppressive governments and disregard for personal privacy. The population of Oceania is mostly made up of the Party’s members and citizens are divided into different social classes. Oceania was meant to be used for citizens to love and trust but it turns out to be the opposite. They control their language, thoughts and any sense of individuality that one has. Everything Winston does is monitored by Big Brother.
The novel can give us a glimpse into what our world could become if similar social conditions arise in future societies. The story of Winston Smith, a low-level worker at the Ministry of Truth in Airstrip One, paints an unsettling picture of a future where individual freedom is slowly being eroded. As the government slowly tightens its grip on society and technology helps it do so with greater efficiency, every aspect of life comes under state control.
Winston realizes will not be successful with rebellion and that The Party is too powerful to escape or overthrow. Since the government of Oceania has total control over its citizens, there’s very little room for individuality and freedom.
With the complete suppression, fears are instilled in people to prevent them from thinking independently. Winston had a realization of this harshness when he sees the picture of Julia following her torture session; it shows him how cruel Big Brother can actually be towards those who oppose them.
The abuse of power is a constant theme in the novel. The government, or Big Brother, controls everything there is to control and influences every aspect of its citizens lives—from their thoughts to what they can do.
The notion that humans are nothing more than tools for some higher power to use at their disposal had been previously explored by other authors such as Aldous Huxley through Brave New World.
Citizens cannot express themselves openly because they feel like their opinion does not make a difference when fighting against this government structure. They are also afraid of being arrested for speaking up against anyone above them in society.
Living under such an oppressive regime has caused people to rebel in different ways; including creating underground parties or groups where they can discuss topics freely while avoiding surveillance from the Big Brother figurehead.
The Soviet Union may have started down this path before 1984 was published, but it’s influence certainly contributed to its own system of fear and control over its citizens throughout history until its fall in 1991.
The citizens of Oceania were every day people who had to work, attend school and obey the rules set by The Party. The Party was a powerful organization in charge of all aspects of life in Oceania that controlled much areas such as entertainment, art, law and government.
The main goal was to maintain control over the population and squash any form of dissent or change that oppose Big Brother’s rule. Despite this harsh control, the society prospered under the rule with education levels rising rapidly due to propaganda.
It is important to note however that not only did people live happily but they also suffered at the hands of oppressive ruling too often resulting in dire consequences for anyone bold enough to step out-of-line even slightly.
The two superstates were in a perpetual state of war. In 1984 the Party creates an enemy, whether it be external or internal, to keep citizens fearful of rebellion and to draw loyalty from its people. This is similar to the Soviet Union which viewed other nations as enemies because they feared their government would collapse if not held together by fear and patriotism.
The Soviet Union was also known for its use of propaganda to maintain control over its citizens, similarly as Oceania does in 1984 with constant rewriting of history (1984) and reworking truth into lies (“A Map…”). These parallels show that Russia may have been Orwell’s inspiration for his version of Oceania in 1984.
Big Brother, being the leader of Oceania was like God and he had total control over the citizens, much like Joseph Stalin. He placed strict rules for them to obey and if not followed then punishments such as imprisonment, torture or even death would occur. This way he ensured that people are scared into submission to remain content with their current state of existence.
The rule of Big Brother and Stalin did instill fear in everyone but also proved beneficial for some aspects of society since both nations achieved global power through strong management style. The aim was never to make people happy however it was instead to keep a firm grip on power so that nobody could challenge his authority or try to usurp him from control.
Both dictators were successful in this aspect as they maintained an iron grip on power until the ends of their reigns ended in different reasons.
Stalin also created a police force of secret policemen who would torture, imprison and even execute those who were accused as enemies. Stalin always held onto the power he had in his hands by offering promises of tremendous economic growth for his citizens if they only followed his orders.
His authoritarian rule focused on extreme centralism to maintain order within the former Soviet Union and its empire. Although Stalin’s reign was filled with terror and violence it showed that he will never let anybody else take away or fails upon what was promised — total control.
US and party members were executed. In both cases, it is possible to notice the use of force as a control tool on citizens who acted differently from what was wanted by the leaders. However, in Oceania society there wasn’t really an opportunity for citizens to act against The Party since being watched twenty-four seven via telescreens.
On the other hand, in Soviet Union citizens knew that if they did not follow Stalin’s ideology consequences would be hard such as execution, imprisonment or even banishment. In conclusion both governments used punishment but different techniques and approaches resulting in a different effect either good or bad enough to keep their countries under a certain level of political stability.
Big Brother and the Thought Police are key figures in 1984, as they have complete control over every person living there. Orwell stated that freedom is something you can never obtain under a totalitarian regime, because anyone could be guilty of any crime or thoughtcrime committed.
This idea of controlling people’s thoughts is scary since it means that nobody can think freely anymore; Any kind of opinion could be seen as wrong and will not be tolerated. Ultimately, the message behind 1984 is to show us how powerful governments can become if we don’t stay vigilant and keep our rights safe.
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