Explore Orwell's deployment of irony in Nineteen Eighty-Four

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Karaivanova, Katerina


November 20, 2004

Explore Orwell’s deployment of irony in Nineteen Eighty-Four

        The society presented in the novel Nineteen Eighty-Four is one that appears perfect at first sight, but when examined closely is far from being that. People are manipulated by their leaders; they are being watched all the time and controlled by all possible means. George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four is based on irony and there are many examples that help depict the people’s life and the conditions they live in the way the author wants them to be. There are five main areas in which irony is used: the slogans, the importance of the family, the places where important action takes place, the language that is used, and the small details.

        The slogans that the party uses to manipulate the people’s way of thinking are an example of irony. More specifically these are the words that one can see almost everywhere in Airstrip One: “WAR IS PEACE // FREEDOM IS SLAVERY // IGNORANCE IS STRENGHT” (Orwell 18). What is ironical about it is that each line describes a pair of opposites. War is definitely the contrary of peace, freedom and slavery are also antonyms, and not knowing something can never be one’s strength. Using this slogan, George Orwell mocks the party. He makes fun of the government’s way of manipulating people and shows how simple minded one can be to follow and believe without opposition these controversial words.

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        The image of the family is also very ironically described, the image of Big Brother especially. In real life the brother is the one man who protects you and looks after you. He is the one you can trust and is the closest person to you in the family. In the book, however, “BIG BROTHER IS WATCHING YOU”.(3) He is a fictive character that is following every step of every individual. He is the one controlling people and is the main method the party uses for manipulation. This is definitely not the role of a brother and this is why ...

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