Ignorance is strength

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In society today, education is a major factor in the lives of many Americans. In most cases, the higher the level of education a person has, the better their chance of succeeding in an environment they enjoy working in, and living an overall productive life. On the contrary, however, in George Orwell's 1984, the less the citizens of Oceania knew, the better. One of the three "truths" that the Party presented summed up the ways if Big Brother in just three words: "Ignorance is strength." The people who knew the least and questioned nothing were the model citizens of Oceania, and managed to escape vaporization or torture. Winston Smith did question the Party, however, and although he thought he had escaped the dominating control of the fictitious Big Brother, he was still under their grasp.

A strong example in 1984 of a case where "Ignorance is strength" was a truth was Katherine, Winston's ex-wife.

A description of Katherine shows the Party's ideal woman: "She had a bold, aquiline face, a face that one might have called noble until one discovered that there was as nearly as possible nothing behind it. Very early in their married life...that she had without exception the most stupid, vulgar, empty mind he had ever encountered. She had not a thought in her head that was not a slogan, and there was no imbecility, absolutely none, that she was not capable of swallowing if the Party handed it out to her." (Orwell, 58) This was what the Party wanted-a person so brain dead and brain washed that they willingly acknowledged as the truth anything the Party dished out. This was the Party's prototype woman, for if a citizen believed with their heart any absurdity that their leaders presented, then the Party had earned complete loyalty with no risk of rebellion or mutiny amongst the citizens. Katherine had even been brainwashed to the extent that the pleasures in life had been reversed in their roles and had become the dreaded parts in life, only bearable because it was her "duty to the Party." Big Brother managed to manipulate the citizens into believing falsehoods so that whenever they were speaking a lie they believed that it was the complete truth. "...to be conscious of complete truthfulness while telling carefully constructed lies..." (32) However, there were some people in Oceania that had sparks of intelligence in them, and didn't always believe what the Party said.

One such case was Winston Smith. "Ignorance is strength." However, Winston was not ignorant at all, he actually had a memory and a brain and remembered the past, so he was able to sort out the lies from the truth, which had been mixed and mangled into one big mess. Winston only acknowledged this because he was able to retain past information. To Katherine, however, it wouldn't have all been a big mess, it would have all been truth. And this was the aim of the Party. "The two aims of the Party are to conquer the whole surface of the earth and to extinguish once and for all the possibility of independent thought." (149) The Party had managed to destroy thoughts that strayed from what the Party said in most people, except for in the select few outer Party members, like Winston, who refused to be brainwashed. These people were taken to the Ministry of Love, or MiniLuv in Newspeak, and were forced to capitulate under torture and believe all that the Party said, loosing their ability to have independent thought. After the Party had successfully altered their minds, they would either be vaporized or turned back out to live in society as a now loyal citizen. However, even though Winston Smith believed that he wasn't being brainwashed by the Party, he was in some ways.

Winston Smith may not have believed the ideocracies the Party presented him with, however, he did believe that there was an Emmanuel Goldstein, the leader of all the people who rebelled against Big Brother. Emmanuel Goldstein was actually a fictitious, made up character, created to find in the numerous citizens who was a proper Outer Party member and who was a traitor. Winston, too, had been fooled by the Party into believing that there was a leader. So, in truth, though it seemed that Winston had escaped the tyranny of the Party, he was actually under its control the whole time, and all his moves were being manipulated by traps set by the Thought Police.

Winston Smith was hardly the model citizen, yet at the end he had become quite similar to his ex-wife, Katherine, who he had disliked in the beginning of the book because of her stupidity. In the end he too was an ignorant, Party-loving citizen, as stated in the end of the book. "He loved Big Brother." (245)