1984: the power of Newspeak

6 Nov

In the society of 1984, words and rhetoric have enormous power. The language spoken in this society is called Newspeak. But why carry words such great power in this society? How come that the only possible way to make this totalitarian superstate work is by controlling the language of the inhabitants? Not only was it necessary for Newspeak to be simple in use, the most important facet was that it would rule out any thoughts of unorthodox kind.

The intentions of Newspeak are simple; to make any thought that diverges from the principles of Ingsoc literally unthinkable. To make vocabulary so constructed that when an unorthodox thought comes through your mind, you have no words to explain to yourself what you’re thinking.

A good example of the intentions of Newspeak is when Winstons first starts writing in his diary. Even though it’s 1984 and Newspeak isn’t the common used language, Winston still does not know how to write down the thoughts that have been running through his head for years.

Then, of course there is doublethink. Doublethink is a very complex thing. It’s the acceptance of two contradictory beliefs in one thought, and believing both of them. For example the common used phrase “two plus two equals five”. It’s not merely believing that two plus two equals five, it’s knowing that it’s right, and to forget that it has ever been any different, except when the Party wants it so. But how is it possible to make anyone believe this? To force someone, to make them tell you what you want to hear is one thing, but to really convince that same person that it’s the truth and make them think otherwise when you want them so, can only be done so by doublethink. Your mind has to be trained for months, even years to make the process happen unconscious, but conscious enough to carry it out with enough precision.

Another example are the names of the four ministries, while their names are also contrary to what their purposes are; the Ministry of Peace concerns itself with the never ending war, the Ministry of Truth with lies, the Ministry of Love with torturing the people who commit thoughtcrime and the Ministry of Plenty with making sure that everyone has just enough food to stay alive, but no more.

After Winston’s finished with parts of the book of Goldstein, he realizes that everything he read, everything he learned he already knew; they were merely put down by using the right words, wrote down in the right sentences. This is what Newspeak is really about, making citizens unable to use the proper words since they are out of existence. By the year 2050, everyone would grow up with Newspeak as their common language. Citizens like Winston would be literally unable to exist; the party would have full control over every citizens in their state. This is why words carry such great power with them, why the Party goes through so great lengths to control the language.

Words: 512


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