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Psychological control is a major theme occurring in 1984 and Orwell proves this theme is possible by giving examples of how a totalitarian government could gain psychological control using their power to control history and technology. George Orwell wrote 1984 as a warning to people of what might come in the future if people were not careful. At the time Orwell was writing the book, the Cold War had not yet escalated, and many American intellectuals supported communism. Orwell demonstrated his terror of communist actions by writing 1984 and inventing Big Brother, the governing party of Oceania, who succeed at conforming everyone and eliminating peoples rights. The citizens are told that Big Brother is the leader of the nation and the head of the Party. The partys motto is, Those who control the past, control the future: who controls the present controls the past (32).
The party controlled the present, so the people did what they wished. Big Brother used a totalitarian government to manipulate history and technology and maintain psychological control. On of the major themes in 1984 is manipulation of history as psychological control. The party rewrote every detail of history, from a person who died, to an enemy change in their ongoing war. The Party had pieces of literature rewritten and every photo reproduced to fit their fictional stories of war success and economic advance. Even personal photographs were eliminated.
Without photographs for visual reference, a persons mind becomes fuzzy, and their memory suffers. The information that is given to the citizens is usually manipulated to fit the partys wants. Since this is the only information, the people believe what the party says. And when memory failed and written records were falsified when that happened, the claim of the Party to have improved the conditions of human life had got to be accepted, because there did not exist, and never again could exist, any standard against which it could be tested (79). By having the power to control the past, the party controls the future.
With the power to control the future, they manipulate the human mind and enforce beliefs to fit the partys needs. Big Brother uses technology to monitor behavior. Telescrenes with hidden microphones are scattered throughout the city to watch the citizens every action. There were even telescrenes in every citizens room that ran Big Brothers picture. It was one of those pictures which are so contrived that the eyes follow you about when you move.
BIG BROTHER IS WATCHING YOU, the caption beneath it ran. (5). People were constantly being scrutinized by the authorities. This general psychological control is the second frightening theme in 1984. Another example uses children. Beginning at an early age, children were brainwashed and encouraged to spy on their parents by an organization called the Junior Spies. This organization destroyed family structure by having children report any instance of disloyalty to the Party.
The telescrenes and children are a perfect example to how the totalitarian government abuses technology for its own purpose instead of using their knowledge to improve civilization. Just like the telescrenes, the theme of psychological control is scattered throughout Orwell's 1984. Those who control the past, control the future: who controls the present controls the past, by understanding this and a totalitarian government, we can see that with manipulation of history, such as rewriting it and elimination personal photos, and the use of technology like cameras and microphones, psychological control of people is easier that it looks. At least Orwell's writing is a warning, not a prediction.
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Research essay sample on Control The Future Controls The Past