In a dystopian society citizens are stripped of their rights and the land is stricken with chaos. Often times the citizens are ignorant; either they cannot recognize the problem or they cannot express their dislike towards it. The right to freedom of speech is crucial in creating a well-rounded society because it gives the people the chance to form opinions. In comparing the novels, 1984 and Brave New World, the reader can see that both of the corrupt governments use language as a technique to enforce their ways upon the people. In 1984 language has been manipulated to remove the possibility of rebellious thoughts.
The corrupt government creates Newspeak and makes it the official language of Oceania. It is designed to make the ideological premise of Ingsoc the only expressible doctrine. Although it is very similar to English, the the vocabulary and grammar have been greatly reduced and simplified. In the novel, the totalitarian aim of the Party is to prevent any alternative thinking, referred to as “thoughtcrime”. By destroying any vocabulary that expresses concepts like freedom, individualism, resistance to the authority of the state and the like, The Party is successfully able to monitor the thoughts of their people.
In this language, words with negative meanings are removed as redundant, so “bad” becomes “ungood”. Words with comparative and superlative meanings are also simplified, so “better” becomes “gooder”, and “best” becomes “goodest”. Intensifiers can be added, so “great” becomes “plusgood”, and “excellent” and “splendid” become “doubleplusgood”. The goal of exchanging English, or “Oldspeak”, for “Newspeak” is to reinforce the total dominance of the state. Syme, a coworker of Winston, says, “It’s a beautiful thing, the destruction of words” (Orwell 51).
The people do not understand how serious the destruction of words is. He says it is “beautiful” yet it is devastating. If language is dominated, so are the people speaking it. Newspeak in Nineteen Eighty-Four is the epitome of this; the entire language is designed to restrict the range of thought to purely Party ideology. In brief, the Party in 1984 uses language to restrict the thoughts of their citizens. In Brave New World language is used not limited like in 1984, instead it is used excessively.
Huxley created a conditioning system called “Hypnopaedia” in the novel. This is a system where loudspeakers repeat slogans and morals to children as the sleep. When this is done often enough, the people subjected to such treatment not only learn and remember what is spoken, but unconsciously also start believing in it. It leaves them unable to think for themselves. When the people wake and are put into the World State, they do not see the unfairness in the society because it has been programmed into their brains that everything is perfect.
A few of the slogans that are repeated are “Community, Identity, Stability”, “Everyone works for everyone else”, “We can’t do without any one. Even Epsilons are useful” (Huxley 85). When the students are getting a tour of the World Center’s factory, positive and sophisticated words were used for what they were trying to promote and to come across as intelligent, words with negative connotations were used to denote things they wished to discourage. Hypnopaedia is presented by Huxley as a technique of brainwashing.
This changes the beliefs held by people and makes them accept the World Center’s ideology to be their own truth. Conditioning is a valuable tool in the name of social stability. When John the Savage talks to Lenina about love and happiness, he is unsatisfied with her responses. He does not understand how they can be truly happy. Huxley writes, “Yes everybody’s happy now,” echoed Lenina. They had heard the words repeated a hundred and fifty times every night for twelve years” (75). Because they are already brainwashed, nothing anyone says to them will change their opinions.
When John the Savage tries to explain his beliefs to Lenina, she thinks they are weird, and does not even consider about adopting them. It never even occurs to her because she has no ability to think on her own since she is so brainwashed. In essence, the World Center in Brave New World uses language to brainwash their people through repetition. The manipulations of language in both of these societies have different effects on the people. In 1984 the few people who do want to overthrow the Party cannot because they are too uneducated.
They cannot stand up for themselves but are very unhappy and unsatisfied. On the other hand, in Brave New World the citizens do not even notice a problem because they are so brainwashed. The mottos of the World State are so ingrained in their minds that they are shielded from the truth. Although they may not necessarily be happy, they truthfully believe that they are. Although the citizens of the World State seem to be happy, it is still considered a dystopian society because they do not have any choice, but to be “happy”. The brainwashing has taken away the meaning of any the words they use.
Excluding the different effects that the languages have on their societies, the governments have very similar techniques of manipulation. Above all, language is a powerful tool that can be manipulated to control ideology and expression. In the dystopian societies of 1984 and Brave New World the governments have found different ways to limit the thoughts of their people in using language. By eliminating freedom of thought and speech, they are very successful in creating chaotic, dangerous societies and very ignorant people who cannot do anything to help the situation.
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