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Propaganda in George Orwell's 1984

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: English Language
Wordcount: 3067 words Published: 24th Sep 2021

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At the time of authoring the book '1984’, George Orwell was concerned by world affairs that were taking shape around the world such as communism and government control over the lives of people. George was skeptical of the power tricks used by communist parties with regards to leveraging power at the expense of people. Freedoms, rights and values of people are the main concerns expressed by George as evidenced in the book (Orwell, 5). Increased spying by the government according to Orwell is a threat to social values that hold a society. Most of the expressions in the book are a reflection of what the author predicted would happen in the foreseeable future. Debates on whether to adopt the communist ideals in the American society also motivated Orwell to express his opposition to the proposals.

This paper will take the approach of an argumentative essay that will explore issues related to government control and propaganda as a tool for consolidating power. To better understand issues presented in the book, a detailed review of the work by George Orwell will be explored from an analytical perspective.

Analysis and Discussion

The first theme that best explains the perspective of Orwell with regards to infringing the freedoms of people and society is authoritative rule. By the time, communism gained momentum in Europe, there were differing opinions on this new system of governing. Accordingly, there was support from some regions on the new system of administration that had been made real thanks to the dominance of Russia and the Soviet Union. Orwell raises a red flag in his book by slamming communism since, the latter advocates for the restrictions of freedom and speech. From a practical perspective, rights such as speech freedom and press are integral in the harmonization of a given society (Orwell, 15). Communism was an outfit that was developed with the objective of holding on to power by suppressing the rights of people to choose their leaders in a democratic way. According to the author, democracy is a must have for any society that pursues effective leadership that lives within the moral principles of a given society. For example, at the height of communism, there was major outcries from people around the world on how the rights of the people had been infringed. There was oppression in most dictatorial regimes around the world and this was of concern to Orwell who foresaw a world where people would live in fear.

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Party power is described in the book and was used for instilling fear and allegiance of those affiliated. By doing this, the dominant party would lock people from making personal decisions. In other words, the party was transformed into a power base that commanded every aspect of freedom and choices made by people. Manipulation on a psychological basis is an example of a power control tool that would be used by the party for controlling the masses (Kellner, 9). The rationale of these manipulations according to the book is to deprive people of independence and personal choices which are instrumental in the life of any person. Logic dictates that consolidating power needs a strategic approach such as interfering with the way of thinking of a given people. This is the same message presented here and the use of the character Winston sends the message home. Winston wonders about the influence of the Big Brother advocated by the government. In a sense, people are made to believe that Big Brother is the authority mandated with protecting people while at the same time watching enemies that would seek to threaten them. There are many questions to this tag as suggested by Orwell in the book. By spreading fear and tension, the government would gain control easily as compared to allowing people to make personal choices. The scope of manipulation with regards to government protection is seen in the way family values are compromised (Yeo, 5). To make the systems better, the government has additionally developed a junior spying program that entails kids reporting activities of their families to the government. The tactical approach used by the government in accomplishing this objective is the bone contention as seen in the book. When a government decides to manipulate people through the mind, then it can be said that dictatorship has taken route thereby, compromising the freedoms of people (Lang, 6). There is no logic in the government claiming that it would protect people by way of making choices by them. Information and intelligence regarding the activities of a government should be known by the public in order, to properly scrutinize the leadership system in place. Democracy entails the ability of people to choose leaders and live in a society where freedom and other values that bind people together are present. Big Brother therefore, is an illusion created by the government with the objective of attaining their ill motives. People have no information and as seen in the Oceania region, no one knows about the leadership system used in running affairs (Lang, 20). This implies that there is a bridge between people and the reality on the ground. Propaganda has been used a way of eliminating the dirty tricks used by the government and those in power to advance their selfish ideals.

Deliberate attempts to destroy the past and present through, manipulative tactics is another thematic presentation that raises an argumentative view of the book by George Orwell. For example, the government ensures that information about the past is erased to keep people in the dark and feed them with information that lacks basis and credibility. Such levels of diversionary leadership are seen in the world expressed by Orwell in the book. Controlling the present largely depends on how well the past has been compromised by the system of power in place. Control has been attained in this regard and is best portrayed by loss of memory by the main character (Iskandar, 40). Winston seems to lose track of the past and engages in personal reflection for the sake of getting a grip of the past. What comes out from this experience by Winston is clearly government machinery used for hindering the thought patterns of people by causing discrepancies in time. Confusion is an important tool required for commanding control over a given population and has been happening within the ranks of government. Such a rule is detrimental to the stability and future prospects of a country, since, it does not recognize the significance of upholding integrity within leadership. There is no doubt that manipulations of this level are a manifestation of the problems facing people (Brown, 3). Winston is the only sober character in the book who endeavors to make connections between various events which have taken place.

Another analytical argument to the propagandas introduced by the government according to Orwell is mistrust between families and use of technology for spying. As stated earlier in this argument, the government is responsible for creating divisions among people by making every citizen part of the spy network. Arguably, this approach has the capability of shaping how people relate with the government and other people all for the motives of the government (Raab, 35). The mental condition of Winston is clear illustration of the mental manipulations that have taken place in the society. O’ Brien attracts a lot of suspicion from Winston who thinks he might be part of the new system of controlling people. Trust is required for holding values and principles that guide a given society without influences that shape how people thinks and make decisions. Government control asserted in the book by Orwell is similar to divide rule where causing tension becomes a stronghold for government control. From a technological perspective, information should be freely disseminated to the public without any alterations that may lead to questioning. Developing of surveillance systems such as Tele screens is an experience raised by George and does nothing but watch the movements of people. Technology should be used in a way that helps spread knowledge and information to people all the time without fear of being spied. Such a world is ideal and best represents the values of a democracy. In comparison to the modern world, this dream is valid and can be attained without causing unnecessary jitters to the government (Yeo, 7).

The language component as a factor for asserting control of the mind draws analytical perspectives based on the strategies used by the government for controlling people. Simply put, affecting the thinking patterns of people is the best way of controlling them. When freedom of speech and free thinking is encouraged, chances are that people will be free to express their opinions on various things. Progress would be made in this way by forming a united society that looks into the needs of people and providing a sense of accountability from the government. A government system that engages in surveillance programs for spying on their own people infringes on their rights and privacy needs as stipulated in the constitution. The world envisioned by Orwell is best described by the above description and encompasses value based leadership that addresses the needs of people without intimidating them. The events of communism and the consequences support the above assertions and show the problem with dictatorial regimes that do not respect the freedoms of citizens as spelled out in the constitution. Provisions in the constitution on the rights of people are clear and should be followed to the latter. If there is a lesson that world has learnt is that communism has no place in any society. Conflicts and tension is common place in the long run and show how people loathe dictatorial regimes. From a legal perspective, denying people their rights causes divisions that would most likely impact the manner in which the society functions (Brown, 8). A healthy society should be comprised of an accountable system of leadership that delivers on the fundamental rights of people such as freedom. The argumentative basis provided by Orwell in relation to the above description shows numerous similarities of the vision outlined by the author of a democratic world where peace abounds.

Double think is another form of manipulation used by the government with regards to shaping the current agenda depending on their interests. By instilling contradictory thoughts to people, the leadership in place maneuvers in order to create chances for usurping power on a global scale. For example, a government can convince people on turning an enemy into a friendly nation as long as the interests of those in power are met. By brainwashing people, powerful figures are able to control agenda on various issues that affect society (Sessions, 19). In addition, people are led to believe that the proposed agenda is better for them and the future of their nation. Patriotism is the tool used for rallying people behind a given cause that sincerely speaking, cannot be justified. For example, invading another nation can be reached by a government and assure people that going to war would promote peace. How people are tricked is one thing and how the government accomplishes these objectives is another. The bottom line is that mental enslavement is a mechanism that has worked for the case of many autocratic regimes that endeavor to contravene the fundamental rights of the citizens. Soft power is applied by dictatorial regimes and shapes the manner in which people adopt to the new circumstances. Practically speaking going to war for any nation is a costly exercise that can cause short term problems such as economic crises or weakening of diplomatic ties. In a way people think that the government has their best interests at heart while in reality, the government is interested in taking away the liberties and freedoms. Orwell shows instances of double think in various parts of his book and shows how the government can influence societal agenda.

From a social perspective, poverty and crime are some of the major contributors to urban problems. The government in the book by Orwell has disregarded the social needs of people such as jobs and good shelters which are important for boosting economic growth. The depiction of this situation by Orwell is a classic example of how resource misallocation is used for stabilizing power in dictatorial governments. Restricting the flow of resources in an equitable manner results to hopelessness that takes a nation backwards (Orwell, 36). Regardless of this, the government is less concerned about the needs of people and lets poverty become widespread without doing anything. Such imbalance is used by the government to hold people at ransom and consequently, perceive the government as the legitimate provider of their needs. Economic independence is an important element with regards to enhancing the rights of people and progress that trickles down to working families. Taking these rights is a mistake and shows the incompetence of the government in terms of providing economic freedom to people. Evidence from the book by George shows the plight of people economically and how this is orchestrated by those in power. Wastage and poor planning policies are to blame in many countries where extreme poverty abounds. The author is categorical in terms of how the government is involved in the resource management and denounces this approach as dictatorial and unfair. Many regimes around the world are represented by these sentiments from the book by Orwell. Looting and wastage of resources meant for public usage is the order of the day and goes unpunished in the midst of harsh economic times facing people.

The use of guilt through the main character can be looked from different angles and speaks volumes about the conditions facing most people. A look at people shows confusion and manipulation that is shaped in form of freedom (Sessions, 22). In short, there has been a total overhaul of how people think, make choices and their relationship with others. Winston is confused in most of the insights provided by the author in the book and reflects the situation facing most people. The irony is that people have believed that everything is alright and that the government is justified in the formulation of various policies that influence the functioning of society. Guilt is best expressed by Winston who feels that something is missing and sets out to change things. A look at this situation tells more about the role of government in disrupting human values that are much needed in promotion cooperation and unity among people in the long haul. This is not the case according the current events facing most people in the country and evidence shows that people are darkness. A comparative analysis of the book by Orwell and other authorships such as ‘1985’ and ‘Brave New World’ shows the same thematic message as highlighted the mentioned books (Orwell, 30). Just like the presentation by George, the above mentioned books provides accounts of human rights contraventions and how systems of rule such as communism were detrimental to world peace and harmony. All these accounts have a similar message as that provided by George in his book and emphasize on the problems facing most people in autocratic states. There is no room for autocracy according to these authors in the modern world and should not be allowed to thrive.

The mention of media as a propaganda tool makes a lot of sense and provides the situation facing most nations around the world gripped in authoritative rule. A good example of media influence and how it failed people can be explained from the situation that led to attacks on American soil in 2001. Media perception of things and use of fabricated facts was common place and led to widespread confusion with regards to addressing the problem of terrorism and extremism that had spread around the world. By providing unverified information and taking sides, the media compromised the liberties of people with regards to their right to know accurate information (Brown, 13). There were many details that were left out in the proposals provided by the media in relation to war on terror. The conspiracy surrounding these attacks is another aspect showing the intensity of things with regards to propaganda promotion by the media. Every logic shows that the media was partisan with the government on the issues that were facing Americans after the occurrence of these events.


The analytical approach used in exploring the reasoning by George Orwell in his book is clear testimony of the dangers of allowing dictatorial leadership principles such as those that gripped Europe during the era of communism. The combination of the teachings by Orwell and present day events around the world is proof of these sentiments. As seen in this critical review of the book, according people their rights and freedoms goes a long way in terms of showing respect for human rights and values.

Works Cited

Brown, Sarah. I always feel like, somebody’s watching me…Teaching 1984 and the power of government. Six-Week Unit designed for 10th grade honors. 2010. Print.

Iskandar, Nicole. Teaching Dystopic Novels in the Classroom Unit of Study. Warner, 1984. Print.

Kellner, Douglas. From 1984 to One-Dimensional Man: Critical Reflections on Orwell and Marcuse. Print.

Lang, Peter. The Road from George Orwell: His Achievement and Legacy. European Academic Publishers. 2001. Print.

Orwell, George. Nineteen Eighty-Four. Harcourt Education Limited, 2005. Print.

Raab, Elizabeth. Propaganda and “Truth”: How Do You Know? John Bartram High School. Print.

Sessions, Lisa. A Teacher’s Guide to the Signet Classic Edition of George Orwell’s 1984. Asheville Junior High. Print.

Yeo, Michael. Propaganda and Surveillance in George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four: Two Sides of the Same Coin. Global Media Journal- Canadian Edition. 2010. Print.


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