Ministry of Truth
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In George Orwell's novel Nineteen Eighty-Four, the Ministry of Truth is Oceania's propaganda ministry. It is one of the four ministries that govern the nation. As with the other Ministries in the novel, the Ministry of Truth is a misnomer and in reality serves the opposite of its purported namesake: it is responsible for any necessary falsification of historical events. In another sense, and in keeping with the concept of doublethink, the ministry is aptly named, in that it creates/manufactures "truth" in the Newspeak sense of the word. The book describes a willful fooling of posterity using doctored historical archives to show a government-approved version of events.
As well as administering truth, the ministry spreads a new language amongst the populace called Newspeak, in which, for example, "truth" is understood to mean statements like 2 + 2 = 5 when the situation warrants.
In Newspeak, the ministry is known as Minitrue.
Winston Smith, the main character of Nineteen Eighty-Four, works at the Ministry of Truth. It is an enormous pyramidal structure of glittering white concrete rising 300 metres into the air, containing over 3000 rooms above ground. On the outside wall are the three slogans of the Party: "WAR IS PEACE," "FREEDOM IS SLAVERY," "IGNORANCE IS STRENGTH." There is also a large part underground, probably containing huge incinerators where documents are destroyed after they are put down memory holes. For his description, Orwell was inspired by the Senate House at the University of London.
Role in information
The Ministry of Truth is involved with news media, entertainment, the fine arts and educational books. Its purpose is to rewrite history to change the facts to fit Party doctrine for propaganda effect. For example, if Big Brother makes a prediction that turns out to be wrong, the employees of the Ministry of Truth go back and rewrite the prediction so that any prediction Big Brother previously made is accurate. This is the "how" of the Ministry of Truth's existence. Within the novel, Orwell elaborates that the deeper reason for its existence is to maintain the illusion that the Party is absolute. It cannot ever seem to change its mind (if, for instance, they perform one of their constant changes regarding enemies during war) or make a mistake (firing an official or making a grossly misjudged supply prediction), for that would imply weakness and to maintain power the Party must seem eternally right and strong.
Minitrue plays a role as the news media by changing history, and changing the words in articles about events current and past, so that Big Brother and his government are always seen in a good light and can never do any wrong. The content is more propaganda than actual news.
The following are the departments of the ministry mentioned in the text:
- Records Department (Recdep in Newspeak)
- Fiction Department (Ficdep)
- Pornography Department (Pornosec)
- Tele-programmes Department (Teledep)
While the term "Ministry" implies that it is headed by a minister, there is nowhere in the book any mention of a Minister of Truth nor of the ministers heading Oceania's three other Ministries. The heads of the ministries are evidently shadowy figures with all public attention focused on Big Brother.
- "Literature Network, George Orwell, 1984, Summary Pt. 1 Chp. 4". Retrieved 2008-08-27.
- Stansky, Peter (1994). London's Burning. Stanford: Stanford University Press. pp. 85–86. ISBN 0-8047-2340-0.
- Tames, Richard (2006). London. Oxford Oxfordshire: Oxford University Press. p. 126. ISBN 0-19-530953-7.
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- "Orwell Today, Ministry of Truth". Retrieved 2008-08-27.