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1984 by George Orwell: Literary Devices to Portray Government Controlling Its Citizens

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Orwell depicts a totalitarian fiction world, where freedom cannot be fought or dragged away from any sense of individual righteousness. In order to achieve this, the government suppresses people’s thinking and eliminate their freedom by creating fear through propaganda, strict laws, and incessant surveillances. Orwell uses foreshadowing, symbolism and repetition to show mind control within the citizens.

Orwell uses things from the past, fears, and dreams as foreshadowing in the novel. For instance, the main character Winston, starts to ramble on who will end up being vaporized. He then realizes that Syme will soon vanish since he seems to become a threat to the party. This demonstrates how Winston predicts what will happen to Syme based how Syme sees to clearly and speaks to him in a straightforward way. Syme will be vaporized based on his intelligence which the government prohibits the people to obtain. He also says, “A rat. I saw him stick his beastly nose out of the wainscoting. There’s a hole down there. I gave him a good fright, anyway…. Rats!’ murmured Winston. ‘In this room!”. This shows Winston’s worst fear is rats. When the rat pokes its head out of the wall in their rented room foreshadows that they are being watched by someone. Winston soon to be captured and taken to room 101 with O’Brien. O’Brien who was observing them in the rented room knows that his worst fear is rats tormenting him with starving rats bound to eat his face while being strapped down unless he would give up the last thing he would not give up betraying Julia. Throughout the novel, Winston sees posters posted on his building showing a man gazing down over the words, “BIG BROTHER IS WATCHING YOU”everywhere he goes. If you ever loved someone, you loved Big Brother even if you didn’t haven’t anything to offer you still have loved him”. He is ostensibly the leader of all power of Oceania, a totalitarian state where in the ruling party always rules and no freedom or good products are given to the people. These rules are used within the party to keep the citizens from rebelling and overthrowing the party. ”If you muct to keep a secret, you must also hide it from yourself”. Meaning to know the truth but to force your mind to lie to yourself over and over to the point where you eventually don’t remember the truth and believe the false. This keeps the people in order and avoiding being vaporized.

Many slogans that are created by the party which are used to make the citizens believe in both meanings “War is peace. Freedom is slavery. Ignorance is strength”. This is the party’s slogan and it appears throughout the novel. Witch introduced them to “doublethink” that describes the reality of accepting life in Oceania as clear and confusing a the same time. “Freedom is the freedom to say that two plus two make four. If that is granted, all else follows”. The Party’s true power is in limiting its citizens brainpower. That shows Winston’s opinion of freedom, instead if believing what the government say to believe. This way the Party can keep them in ruling through both fear and simply stupidity.

Government controlling its citizens is not a new idea yet, Orwell brings the terrifying reality of this to life. It is through foreshadowing, symbolism, and repetition that Orwell shows how awful society could be.

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1984 by George Orwell: Literary Devices to Portray Government Controlling Its Citizens. (2020, July 14). GradesFixer. Retrieved January 21, 2022, from
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1984 by George Orwell: Literary Devices to Portray Government Controlling Its Citizens. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 21 Jan. 2022].
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