Fahrenheit 451 and 1984 comparison
CENSORSHIP- explore the portrayals of censorship in Fahrenheit 451 and 1984 (?)
Bradbury (1951) and Orwell (1948/9), having written the novels in similar time frames, were potentially inspired by the societies around them and their own fears for the future that may have manifested themselves in ideas presented throughout each text surrounding censorship, “But if the sort of world I am afraid arrives…. Two and two could become five if the fuhrer wished it- George Orwell”- could be interpreted as him highlighting his qualms that future society will be overridden by totalitarianism and censorship eliminating “ownself”, which inevitably happens to Winston as the novel progresses and he Is tortured by the inner party of IngSoc. Orwell, (which is a pseudonym for Eric Blair) published 1984 in 1949, not long after Stalin’s great purge of the 1930s. He was the leader of the soviet union in the communist party, who inevitably became a dictator whose totalitarianism government vanquished opposition to his rule and employed ‘secret police’, and torture schemes to retain false confessions from his enemies- this is echoed throughout the text and is used to drive the idea of censorship forward in the novel. The secret police draw parallels to ‘thinkpol’- the thought police, and the inferred torture schemes are explored through the idea of ‘Room 101,’ in the text. Moreover, the politics of world war 2 moulded the writing of Fahrenheit 451, e.g. Nazi Germany underwent a period of intense censorship including the burning of books and control over the media (“the family”, the “parlour walls”), as well as Joseph Stalin destroying books to control and censor information (this manipulation of information which is fed to the public draws similarities to the news broadcasts overtaking everyones screens when Montag is on the run, as well as Winston’s job in of itself, manipulating newspaper outputs so that the predictions of Ingsoc are always right) . Censorship in each novel incorporates, namely, totalitarianism- a common theme in both novels- which explores censorship by utilising methods which disable individuals in each dystopian society from deviating from their respective regimes thus censoring their lifestyles completely, so they entirely align themselves with the ideology of the worlds they’re presented in- whilst simultaneously believing they’re in control. Ways in which this idea of censorship through totalitarianism or other is employed is by using: propaganda, mind control, knowledge versus ignorance, fear and hatred- examples of which are ‘doublethink’ in 1984, rewriting the past (palimpsests), technology, linguistic oppression, repression etc.
The employment of language in 1984 is a method of mind control and thus censorship of thoughts, namely in the use of ‘newspeak’, as it is recognised as “the ultimate weapon.”- Jem Berkes, which shortens language to a basic form of operationalised understanding and replaces what is referred to as ‘oldspeak’- the British language a modern as well as a contemporary reader is accustomed to, “Newspeak is the only language in the world whose vocabulary gets shorter every year,” because the primary belief is that that the extension of vocabulary leads to that of thought and can lead to thoughtcrime. Oceania wants this to eradicate any threat, to the ideology and regime, as well as inevitably eliminating consciousness of the individuals of the oppression and exploitation. This censorship of language is gradually being introduced throughout the text and becoming more popular. We get a more formal narrative at the end of the text in the form of the appendix, explaining the final version of the dictionary of newspeak discussing how in generations people will no longer have oldspeak at all. This is a method of censorship because the range of language and vocabulary in newspeak is limited, and any lexis opposing the state is non-existent as it is a language created by the government, and language that even resembles such would be unfathomable. This was done with the intention of removing any threat to the ideology, because if one doesn’t have to words to discuss something, they cannot move towards perpetuating it and therefore cannot revolt as the idea is something they cannot comprehend, “In the end we shall make thoughtcrime literally impossible,” – “because there will be no words in which to express it,”, and George Orwell aligned himself with the belief that “If thought corrupts language, language can also corrupt thought,”, a basis for Newspeak and its origin. The documents and news articles that Winston edited were already broadcasted in newspeak and the memory hole which contains fire to incinerate unwanted papers, would do so to every remaining copy of oldspeak. Moreover, the latest addition of the Newspeak dictionary will be so far from oldspeak that even if any documents etc. remain it would be untranslatable to a recognisable, coherent language, wherein the idea of language being a form of mind control succeeds in its “Ultimate goal being the destruction of will and imagination,”- Jem Berkes. As well as this it reduces intellectual enlightenment, so that people like Syme are unable to exist and pose a threat, “to expand language is to expand the ability to think,” highlights this, Syme eventually becomes ‘non-existent’, due to the fact that whilst his job is to write the dictionary of newspeak and perpetrate this restriction which “facilitates deception and manipulation,” he is also self-aware and a liability due to his astuteness. “Newspeak rather than torture is planned as the way to erase thoughtcrime”, and Syme despite his dedication to the regime had too much potential to commit it. Because of the general suffering that the totalitarianism regime inflicts and due to the censorship and restriction of day to day life caused by political conflict and a never-ending war, Orwell utilised the knowledge that “When the general atmosphere is bad, language must suffer”, probably inspired by his experiences of literary negligence during the war which was surrounding him at the time of writing the novel e.g. the burning of books by Nazi’s. He wrote this in his essay titled “Politics and the English Language,”, which offers further insight into the meaning behind newspeak. Newspeak initially was only used for political purposes and wasn’t a language everyone was inclined to speak daily however one becomes accustomed to it due to media broadcasts, newspaper articles, journals etc. in this language which highlights the influence of political diction on the English language when in a state of warfare.
INITIAL DRAFT- need to do opposing paragraph on Fahrenheit 451 and its use of language as a form of mind control and manipulation.
Censorship through linguistic oppression:
1984 vs Fahrenheit 451:
can’t speak to anyone even though there are no laws against it in case you ‘disappear’- cannot speak about things of importance that deviate from norms despite lack of rules
Can’t voice own opinions or beliefs
Newspeak shortens ability to revolt – incineration of books shortens ability to heighten intelligence and therefore divide
Orwell quote about language
Voice that is portrayed through media can be falsified- voices portrayed through print media is irrelevant and ignored, punishable by death
Language used against you through propaganda, repetition, mind reading- language of authors used against Montag by Beatty
Memory hole vs general incineration of books
Censorship through Mind Control
Free indirect discourse allows the 3rd person narrative to slip in and out of the consciousness of the protagonist (Winston), this is echoed in 1984 through the government that continuously eliminates thought crime by ‘getting inside their heads’ through propaganda, distraction by the media, etc. However it could also mirror the alluded to mind reading taking effect in chapter two of book three, ‘that is what you were thinking, was it not?’, ‘you are afraid,’ ‘you know perfectly well,’ ‘you believed,’ ‘we control all memories,’ despite the novel initially telling the reader that mind reading was not possible. Winston contrary to the ending, does not believe it is possible either, ‘they can’t get inside you,’ the declarative nature of this sentence holds an air of certainty that seemingly cannot be punctured- which appears this way for the reader too and holds a sense of hope towards Winston and his defiance against the state, we believe he will prevail, however it inevitably shows his underestimation of Big Brother, and of IngSoc when we learn that this is not the case and we feel helpless and angry towards Winston for being so naïve.
‘we control the past’- Obrien
‘it is impossible to see reality without looking through the eyes of the party,’
‘we do not merely destroy our enemies, we change them,’
‘the party is not interested in the overt act; the thought is all we care about,’ – Obrien