What is the Power of Words?
The power of words is omnipotent. It changes people’s minds, makes them believe or disbelieve in something, gives rise to the wars or creates peace. The power of words is enormous. One can tell something and completely change the other person’s worldview. Human beings can fall in love or begin to hate someone only for his/her words. The state can govern the citizens and bring them under its total control with the help of words. One word can alert fates of thousands of people. Besides, the words mean nothing if they are pronounced once. However, when they are constantly repeated and suggested to people daily, they can persuade anyone. In his book 1984, George Orwell illustrates omnipotence of words and the perfect totalitarian state, in which the Party forced people to love their leader and abandon all the pleasures of life manipulating them and representing them false history. Although Orwell wrote his book more than fifty years ago, it is still popular today since it portrays the most powerful method of control, persuasion, and manipulation the words, which is applied by many states even now.
People can easily control other people with the help of words. In 1984, Orwell shows that even the most volitional person can be changed under the influence of words and tortures. Most of the people do not need to be tortured. They are easily influenced by mass effect. The Party observed everyone, and its slogans and appeals were transmitted in every place. Three main slogans of the Party were “War is peace. Freedom is slavery. Ignorance is strength”. These words were impressed on the citizens, and they really believed in it. Constant depicting of those, who confessed to doublethink, and public execution of those who did not, stimulated people to accept the dictated appeals as true. Thus, the book represents the conception of power from a new perspective – those who exercise power, control the language, the speech, and the information because without all these components, the absolute power will be impossible. That is why every apartment, street, workplace, every corner of the state was full of watching cameras and broadcasting screens that helped to gather and possess all necessary information. Thus, “the machine itself may be the enemy”. Without those machines, it would be difficult to control the citizens and influence them. Therefore, Orwell approached to the theme of modern technologies and tools, which manipulate people in his book and are successfully used by modern authorities.
Besides, words are good method of persuasion. In the article “We’re Living “1984” Today,” Lewis Beale states that Orwell predicted the situation, which is now experienced by the population of the world. The impact of the mass media is huge. Moreover, it is used for propagating terrible news and influencing people, making them believe in all these news. Orwell described the citizens of Oceania as those who lived in constant fear and poverty, and this fear helped the Party distract their attention from other problems and be fully controlled by the authorities. Today, the situation is similar. People use social media websites to share information about each other; they post their plans and photos; the telephone calls are listened by the police or some other authorities. Today, the citizens of many countries live in Orwell’s 1984, and most of them are Winston Smith, controlled and watched by the Big Brother – the surveillance state. The government uses right words to persuade people that everything is good or bad, and people believe.
One of the most important things in using words is using right words in a right order. Mohammed Qahtani tells, “Words can change someone’s mind, […] can alter someone’s beliefs”. However, only the right order of words, which are told to the right audience, can have such effect. Therefore, not every person possesses such words craft. One can remember such politicians as Hitler and Stalin, who gripped people’s attention and ruled their minds because they used right words. Orwell’s 1984 reminds of Hitler’s totalitarian state and Stalin’s socialism and collectivism. Both political leaders knew humans’ psychology and controlled their consciousness. For Orwell, “socialism is morally necessary since it is the most obvious manifestation of freedom, justice, and equality”. Orwell represents the problem “of maintaining of social stability in highly unequal society, which can be done only through some combination of repression and controlling the population’s consciousness”. The main ideology spread by those leaders was to deprive people of all unnecessary things and feelings, claiming that everything belonged to the Party and society. When all people are equal and do not own anything, it is easier to manipulate them.
Furthermore, in Orwell’s book, there were Inner Party, Outer Party, and proles, and the Inner Party maintained the absolute control over the others. Working-class people were regarded as less intelligent, and they were suggested to modify their language to Newspeak to substitute all unnecessary words. Along with the new words, the citizens of Oceania are inspired with the ideas that there is no love and friendship, and everyone should love only Big Brother and the Party. It is shown that the best way to persuade people in something and bring them together is to find a common enemy and fight with it collectively. Thus, with the help of constant speeches and broadcasted messages, as well as public hangings of the enemies, people believed in the Party more and more. However, there were those who did not obey.
Winston was a kind of men who understood that the reality is different. He loved sex and had different thoughts and feelings. Such people were called double-thinkers. It was hard to change their mind with the help of words only; therefore, they were caught and tortured. The same happened with Winston when he was caught by the police with his beloved Julia. The Party could not persuade him that 2+2 was five but not four; however, when they used his worst fear – rats – he betrayed Julia and cracked. The last words in the book say, “He loved Big Brother”. Thus, the author proves that every person can be cracked and persuaded in the opposite with the help of constantly repeating statements and tortures.
The book 1984 is popular today since it reveals the vital problems of modern society. So many people are manipulated with the help of words. Politicians lie to the citizens promising high salaries and perfect living conditions, dealers sell their products claiming that they have the cheapest and the best ones, religious sects attract their parishioners telling them pleasant words about eternal life, etc. For instance, Hitler appealed to his nation with the promises about the new race, stating, “We want to be a single unified Reich! […] to be brave, you must be peaceful!”.
It is difficult to explain why his words had such big power. Probably, Hitler managed to inspire the citizens of Germany with the statements that they were the best nation of the world, and the representatives of other nations should have died in order not to pollute their Aryan blood. In Orwell’s book, people were manipulated with the fear of war and desire to survive. However, the question arises: who needs such life when almost everything is prohibited, every step is controlled, and each word is regulated by the Party? The answer is fear. People were afraid to be executed and tortured that is why they truly believed in the suggestions of Big Brother. Their minds were turbid, and they could not rebel until they became conscious. Those few persons who were conscious could not resist the whole system and were broken.
In addition, every person comprehends the same words in a different way. If one person is abused by the word “duckspeack,” another individual will consider it as praise. When most of the people perceive the words of their leader as a cure of a social disease, there will always be several individuals who do not agree with them. Nevertheless, one cannot argue that every person can be affected by particular words. If a human being has some feelings, either love or hatred, it is easy to manipulate him/her using these feelings. Such person may be directed to the object of love or hate since these feelings are so strong that it is hardly possible to ignore them. In Winston’s case, he was influenced with the help of his fear of rats and his beloved Julia. He had to make a choice – to be eaten by terrible animals or to betray Julia. In order to survive, he chose betrayal.
In conclusion, the power of words is an influential weapon against human beings. Since ancient times, the leaders persuaded their subordinates to do or think something with the help of words. Today, the situation is unchangeable. In his book 1984, Orwell illustrated the perfect totalitarian society, in which every citizen is observed and every word is controlled. The aim of the Party was to destroy many words and substitute them with the other words so that to gain total supervision over the nation. Since every word has its meaning and is associated with some memories, it was necessary to delete such words from people’s minds and force them to forget the words and the feelings. Thus, the power of words was applied in practice. Today, it is still used by many politicians, as well as by every person who wants to influence someone or persuade them of something. However, it is important to tell the words in a right order and with right intonation so that to gain the best effect from them.