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1984: Historical Manipulation Essay


George Orwells 1984 demonstrates that by controlling the present, the Party is able to manipulate the past. In controlling the past, the Party can justify all of its actions in the present.

Passage 1 stands as a major plot development of the text depicting Winstons visit to Mr. Charringtons antiques shop, which appears to be a veritable museum of the past in relation to the rest of Winstons history-deprived world. The theme of the importance of having knowledge about the past in order to understand the present is heavily emphasized here. Orwell demonstrates how the Party, by controlling history, forces its members into lives of uncertainty, ignorance, and total reliance upon the Party for all of the information necessary to function in the world. According to OBrien, this is how the Party can create human nature, believing that all humans are infinitely malleable. This is true as far as the text is concerned. The Party has the ability to manipulate the minds of its subjects which is key to the breadth of its power.

Winstons desire to attain a unilateral, abstract understanding of the Partys methods and evils in order to consider and reject them epitomizes his speculative, restless nature. He obsesses about history in particular, trying to understand how the Partys control of information about the past enhances its power in the present. This fixation is so profound that he almost unconsciously finds himself in front of Mr Charringtons store. Winstons trip to the prole district illustrates the relationship between social class and awareness of ones situation. Life in the prole district is animalistic, filthy, and impoverished. The proles have greater freedom than minor Party members such as Winston, but lack the awareness to use or appreciate that freedom. As described by OBrien, they are helpless, like the animals. Proles are portrayed as corrupt and immoral with limited intelligence capacity. However, Winston believes that the proles hold the key to the past and, hence, to the future.

This hope that the proles can defeat the party is evidenced by his notice of Mr Charringtons appearance. His spectacles, his gentle, fussy movements, and the fact that he was wearing an aged jacket of black velvet, gave him a vague air of intellectuality, as though he had been some kind of literary man, or perhaps a musician. His voice was soft, as though faded, and his accent less debased than that of the majority of proles. However, in the end, OBrien proves Winston wrong, controlling his mind to the extent that he understands Winston completely, and states that Or perhaps you have returned to your old idea that the proletarians or the slaves will arise and overthrow us, demonstrating the depth of the Partys power.

In the world of 1984, mind control is vital to sustain the power of the Party, allowing it to exhibit total control over life at all levels.

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