“‘Don’t you see that the whole aim of Newspeak is to narrow the range of thought? In the end we shall make thoughtcrime literally impossible, because there will be no words in which to express it.’”
Syme explains the political goals of Newspeak to Winston. According to Syme, eliminating traditional words from the English language and replacing them with Party-approved concepts will rob English speakers of the ability to express concepts that counter the Party’s ideology. The influence of language on people’s ability to think is one of the book’s most enduring themes.
“He was already dead, he reflected. It seemed to him that it was only now, when he had begun to be able to formulate his thoughts, that he had taken the decisive step.”
Shortly after Winston begins keeping a diary of his subversive thoughts, he begins to think of himself as “already dead.” In this and other examples, the reader can see how thoroughly Winston has internalized the Party’s ideology. To disobey the Party is to gain a death sentence, or to commit social suicide, and Winston believes that he has forfeited his own life by committing thoughtcrime.
“Sexual intercourse was to be looked on as a slightly disgusting minor operation, like having an enema. This again was never put into plain words, but in an indirect way it was rubbed into every Party member from childhood onwards.”
Thinking back to his wife, Katharine, Winston reflects on the social programming that teaches Party members that sex is disgusting and only to be used for procreation. Examples he gives are arranged marriages between Party members and the existence of organizations like the Junior Anti-Sex League. Later, Julia will explain to Winston that the Party uses people’s suppressed sexual energy to fuel its marches and rallies and to keep people in line.
“All beliefs, habits, tastes, emotions, mental attitudes that characterize our time are really designed to sustain the mystique of the Party and prevent the true nature of present-day society from being perceived.”
This section of Goldstein’s manifesto sums up the nature of totalitarianism. Having conquered the day-to-day life of modern society, the Party needs to gain control over the first and last place where revolution could take root: the minds of the people. Winston and Julia are unaware of the full extent of the Party’s psychological reach until they read the manifesto.
“‘If they could make me stop loving you—that would be the real betrayal.’ She thought it over. ‘They can’t do that. . . . They can make you say anything—anything—but they can’t make you believe it. They can’t get inside you.’”
With Goldstein’s manifesto in hand, Julia and Winston talk over the sacrifices they are prepared to make for the cause. Julia convinces Winston that no matter what the Party makes them say under torture, the Party will be unable to force them to change their minds. She will be wrong. In this conversation, Winston and Julia also unwittingly give the Party ammunition against them, as the room is bugged.
“‘We do not destroy the heretic because he resists us. . . . We convert him, we capture his inner mind, we reshape him.’”
Inside the Ministry of Love, O’Brien explains to Winston that the ultimate goal of the Party’s punishments is to regain control over thought-criminals by changing their psychology and manipulating them into giving up their resistance. This speech emphasizes how thoroughly the Party wants to gain control over people’s thoughts and signals to Winston that O’Brien won’t be satisfied with false confessions.
More quotes by theme from 1984