Martijn Pas Candidate No. 2613-033 Written Task 2 HL Part 3: Literature – texts and contexts The Relation of Certain Social Groups From the Novel ‘1984’ With Real Social Groups. The lower working class. In a totalitarian environment, they can be best described as the group of people without a voice, a group that has to live according to the rules of the totalitarian regime, which often rules with an iron fist. In an authoritarian system, this group does have a larger sphere left for a private life.
People from the working class in such a system still cannot interfere with the government, but at least they live a life which lies more in their own hands. In the book ‘1984’ by George Orwell, the social group called ‘The Proles’ has a lot of characteristics in common with the working class in an authoritarian system, where the Outer Party looks like the working class in a totalitarian system. This written task will explore the differences and similarities these groups have, such as ideologies and their role in society.
Orwell describes the Outer Party as a group of people performing jobs for the ministries, living in fear every day they get arrested by the thought police and watching their steps, since they are watched upon 24/7 by telescreens which can be found everywhere. Out on the street, at work and even at home they are filmed. If they do something wrong, or express they do not agree with what the Party says, they can be arrested. And when they get arrested, chances of survival are slim. This situation clearly agrees on some fronts with the working class in a totalitarian system.
These fronts include that both groups are watched continuously by the government and that their political ideas may not differ from the government ideals. On top of that, when people think differently, and show it in public, they can be arrested, tortured and shot. This is described by Orwell in his book as ‘vaporizations’1, and can be compared to events which still happen in our society, or used to happen, for example the purges that were organized by Stalin2. One thing the groups do not have in common is the fact that the Outer Party performs jobs for the Party.
In a totalitarian system, the comparable working class does not do any work for or inside the government at all. This might be so because the chances on fraud are relatively higher in the real world. In the novel employees of the government are ‘brainwashed’ which makes them almost incapable of committing fraud. When we look at the bottom group of society in Orwell’s book, we see the Proles. There is not that much information given about this group, but what is giving is enough to conclude that the Proles get absolutely no dignity from the Inner Party. They are seen as ‘rats’, as described in the novel1.
Their lives are of no meaning towards Party members, but essential to keep the society stable. Proles have quite a private life compared to the Outer Party. They can do things Party members may and cannot do: fall in love, have sex, sing songs. And, most importantly, they are not watched upon the way Party members are watched by the government. No telescreens are there to be found in the houses of the Proles. If they wanted, they could speak their minds, but they do not know any different than their government being the best. All information they get via newspapers or television is censored, if not made up by the party.
They read poems, sing songs and watch pornographic material which is all made by the Party. They drink gin and coffee and eat chocolate, all made and supplied for by the Party. Although all goods are sufficiently supplied, the quality is bad. Martijn Pas Candidate No. 2613-033 Written Task 2 HL Part 3: Literature – texts and contexts Therefore real coffee and chocolate can be bought on the black market. This is similar to the working class in an authoritarian system, where economic institutions that are not under government control are aloud, and therefore a black market is definitely not out of the question.
On top of that authoritarian systems have certain social groups that are not under any control of the strict regime, which matches with the Proles as well. The government of an authoritarian system may think of the working class as scum, but they are needed to provide certain services. These services include the working in mines or other dirty work on which high-class government officials will not get their hands dirty. Orwell gives the Outer Party a real clear ideology in his novel. This is expressed through their slogan: ‘War is Peace, Freedom is Slavery, Ignorance is Strength’3.
The thirty minutes of hate, in which their leader ’Big Brother’ is obeyed, confirms to the idea of having a political leader. This clearly agrees with the way on which the government is obeyed, or even worshipped, in a totalitarian system. For example, Big Brother could be compared with Hitler, and the slogan to Hitler? s: ‘Ein Volk. ein Reich, ein Fuhrer’4. On the other hand, the Proles are not given a political ideology, nor a real political leader who they have to obey as much as the Outer Party members have to.
This agrees more with how it works in an authoritarian system, in which there is no clear political ideology as well. The society described in Orwell’s book is almost a perfect one, at least in his eyes. One in which the government can work freely, and counter-government groups hardly get a chance to strike. Based on the findings of this task, we can conclude that, according to Orwell’s ideas, the mix of a totalitarian and authoritarian government could be the recipe for this good working society; it is the way how he reaches this almost ideal governmental system described in his book. Orwell, George. 1984. London: Penguin . Penguin Classics, 2000. Print 2 “Stalin. ” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation 3 Orwell, George. 1984. London: Penguin . Penguin Classics, 2000. Print; page 31 4 “Hitler. ” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation Martijn Pas Candidate No. 2613-033 Written Task 2 HL Part 3: Literature – texts and contexts Prescribed question: Power and Privilege: How and why is a social group represented in a particular way? Title of text for analyses: 1984 by George Orwell. London, Penguin Books Ltd. , 2000 Task is related to course section: Part 3: Literature – texts and contexts
Task focus: This written task will focus on Orwell’s description of the social groups ‘ The Proles’ and the members of the Outer Party in his novel ‘ 1984’ This written task claims that the roles of the Proles and the members of the Outer Party play in the society created by the author, correspond to the roles the working classes play in an authoritarian and totalitarian political system. This written task explores the similarities between the Proles and the working class in an authoritarian system and those between the members of the Outer Party and the working class in a totalitarian system.