The Power of Words and Rhetoric in 1984

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In a lucid moment Winston found that he was shouting with the others and kicking his heel violently against the ring of his chair (Orwell 14). Winston Smith is an average man in the world of 1984, at least that is what readers believe at first glance. However, there is a hidden life under the surface of his skin, this being the brewing hatred he feels for the, otherwise, worshiped Big Brother. Smith meets an unlikely companion in a young woman named Julia.

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Julia takes part in a group titled the anti-sex league, and she tends to form relationships with inner party members that goes against the league. Even though they are said to have fallen in love and would never leave each other, they are not allowed to be together, but they always find ways to work around it. Upon finishing the novel the reader will come to find that even through everything. Winston gives up on himself and his love for Julia when being faced with his greatest fear, and now is fully brainwashed by the party. Contained in the novel 1984 is the use of rhetoric, propaganda, and constant uneasiness, these tactics are just some of the ways the party controls the citizens.

The art of persuasive language designed to have a persuasive effect on the audience, and is often regarded as lacking meaningful content. The following quote, War is Peace, Freedom is Slavery, Ignorance is Strength (Orwell 4). Early in the novel the audience is exposed to one of the first pieces of rhetoric. The quote above is repeated throughout the novel countless times. The use of rhetoric as well as repetition is used as a way to drill information into the citizens minds.

Neither Goldstein nor Big Brother are real but the power behind the propaganda that the party uses makes it seem that way. The narrator shows in this quote how Goldstein are used in propaganda, The voice of Goldstein had become an actual sheep’s bleat, and for an instant the face changed into that of a sheep (Orwell 15). This shows how the propaganda inspires citizens to see Goldstein as a weak individual that tried to take their beloved leader for guaranteed.

Apart of the same scene in the book this quote shows how Big Brother is the figurehead of the party, But in the same moment, drawing a deep sigh of relief from everybody, the hostile figure melted into the face of Big Brother (Orwell 15). The quote proves that the citizens are through rhetoric and classical conditioning taught to worship Big Brother and see him as the person that will keep them safe from their enemies.

Throughout the novel Oceania is engulfed in wars with two countries named Eurasia and Eastasia. These two enemies play a vital role in the story of 1984. Winston describes the wars with the two countries, Since about that time, war had been literally continuous, through strictly speaking it had not always been the same war (Orwell 33). The party keeps the war a constant worry in the citizens minds, they want them to feel unsafe and have the unknown haunt them. This keep their minds weak and weak minds are easy to manipulate.

Learning about Winston Smith’s life throughout the novel allows readers a glimpse into his mind and how he is secretly fighting back, but in his personal rebellion. However, like all other failed attempts to escape Big Brother, Winston was lost in the effort. It makes a reader wonder if a world like 1984 could ever become a reality. If we succumbed to the torture, and brainwashing that Oceania’s citizens were put through would we have been able to fight back? In this dystopian world something is truly created, this is the idea that causing citizens fear, throwing propaganda into their faces, and using rhetoric are ways to effectively create an easily controlled society.

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The Power of Words and Rhetoric in 1984. (2020, Apr 22). Retrieved from