Ministries of Nineteen Eighty-Four

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"Room 101" redirects here. For other uses, see Room 101 (disambiguation).

The Ministries of Love, Peace, Plenty and Truth are fictional ministries in George Orwell's futuristic dystopian novel Nineteen Eighty-Four.[1] While the term "Ministry" implies that they are each headed by a minister, there is nowhere in the book any mention of the ministers heading Oceania's Ministries. The heads of the ministries are evidently shadowy figures with all public attention focused on the idealized figurehead Big Brother.

Ministry of Love[edit]

The Ministry of Love (or Miniluv in Newspeak) serves as Oceania's interior ministry. It enforces loyalty to Big Brother through fear, buttressed through a massive apparatus of security and repression, as well as systematic brainwashing. The Ministry of Love building has no windows and is surrounded by barbed wire entanglements, steel doors, hidden machine-gun nests, and guards armed with "jointed truncheons". Referred to as "the place where there is no darkness", its interior lights are never turned off. It is arguably the most powerful ministry, controlling the will of the population. The Thought Police is part of Miniluv.

The Ministry of Love, like the other ministries, is a misnomer, since it is largely responsible for the practice and infliction of misery, fear, suffering and torture. In a sense, however, the name is apt, since its ultimate purpose is to instill love of Big Brother—the only form of love permitted in Oceania—in the minds of thoughtcriminals as part of the process of reverting them to orthodox thought. This is typical of the language of Newspeak, in which words and names frequently contain both an idea and its opposite; the orthodox party member is nonetheless able to resolve these contradictions through the disciplined use of doublethink.

Room 101[edit]

Room 101, introduced in the climax of the novel, is a torture chamber in the Ministry of Love, in which the Party attempts to subject a prisoner to his or her own worst nightmare, fear or phobia, with the object of breaking down their resistance.

Such is the purported omniscience of the state in the society of Nineteen Eighty-Four that even a citizen's nightmares are known to the Party. The nightmare, and therefore the threatened punishment, of the protagonist Winston Smith is to be attacked by rats. This is manifested in Room 101 by confronting Smith with a wire cage that contains two large rats. The front of the cage is shaped so that it can fit over a person's face. A trap-door is then opened, allowing the rats to devour the victim's face. This cage is fitted over Smith's face, but he saves himself by begging the authorities to let his lover, Julia, suffer this torture instead of him. The threatened torture, and what Winston does to escape it, breaks his last promise to himself and to Julia: never to betray her emotionally. The book suggests that Julia is likewise subjected to her own worst fear (although it is not revealed what her worst fear is), and when she and Winston later meet in a park, he notices a scar on her forehead. The original intent of threatening Winston with the rats was not necessarily to go through with the act, but to force him into betraying the only person he loved and therefore break his spirit.

Orwell named Room 101 after a conference room at Broadcasting House where he used to sit through tedious meetings.[2] When the original room 101 at the BBC was due to be demolished, a plaster cast of it was made by artist Rachel Whiteread and displayed in the cast courts of the Victoria and Albert Museum from November 2003 until June 2004.[3][4]

Ministry of Peace[edit]

The Ministry of Peace (Newspeak: Minipax) serves as the defense ministry of Oceania's government, and is in charge of the armed forces, mostly the navy and army. The Ministry of Peace may be the most vital organ of Oceania, seeing as the nation is supposedly at war continuously with either Eurasia or Eastasia and requires just the right force to not win the war, but keep it in a state of equipoise.

As explained in Goldstein's book, the Ministry of Peace revolves around the principle of perpetual war. Perpetual war uses up all surplus resources, keeping most citizens in lives of constant hardship – and thus preventing them from learning enough to comprehend the true nature of their society. Since that means the balance of the country rests in the war, the Ministry of Peace is in charge of fighting the war (mostly centered around Africa and India), but making sure to never tip the scales, in case the war should become one-sided. Oceanic telescreens usually broadcast news reports about how Oceania is continually winning every battle it fights, though these reports have little to no credibility.

As with all the other Nineteen Eighty-Four ministries, the Ministry of Peace is named the exact opposite of what it does, since the Ministry of Peace is in charge of maintaining a state of war. As one of the obvious phrases, the meaning of peace has been equalized with the meaning of war in the slogan of the party, which is "War is Peace".

As with the Ministry of Love the name is somewhat accurate only not in the normal sense of the word. By consuming all surplus resources that could make the population too comfortable, it keeps the structure of society intact, thus maintaining internal peace in Oceania.

Ministry of Plenty[edit]

The Ministry of Plenty (in Newspeak, Miniplenty) is in control of Oceania's planned economy. It oversees rationing of food, supplies, and goods. As told in Goldstein's book, the economy of Oceania is very important, and it's necessary to have the public continually create useless and synthetic supplies or weapons for use in the war, while they have no access to the means of production. This is the central theme of Oceania's idea that a poor, weak populace is easier to rule over than a wealthy, powerful populace. Telescreens often make reports on how Big Brother has been able to increase economic production, even when production has actually gone down (see § Ministry of Truth).

The Ministry hands out statistics which are "nonsense". When Winston is adjusting some Ministry of Plenty's figures, he explains this:

But actually, he thought as he readjusted the Ministry of Plenty's figures, it was not even forgery. It was merely the substitution of one piece of nonsense for another. Most of the material that you were dealing with had no connection with anything in the real world, not even the kind of connection that is contained in a direct lie. Statistics were just as much a fantasy in their original version as in their rectified version. A great deal of time you were expected to make them up out of your head.

Like the other ministries, the Ministry of Plenty seems to be entirely misnamed, since it is, in fact, responsible for maintaining a state of perpetual poverty, scarcity and financial shortages. However, the name is also apt, because, along with the Ministry of Truth, the Ministry of Plenty's other purpose is to convince the populace that they are living in a state of perpetual prosperity. Orwell made a similar reference to the Ministry of Plenty in his allegorical work Animal Farm when, in the midst of a blight upon the farm, Napoleon the pig orders the silo to be filled with sand, then to place a thin sprinkling of grain on top, which fools human visitors into being dazzled about Napoleon's boasting of the farm's superior economy.

A department of the Ministry of Plenty is charged with organizing state lotteries. These are very popular among the proles, who buy tickets and hope to win the big prizes – a completely vain hope as the big prizes are in fact not awarded at all, the Ministry of Truth participating in the scam and publishing every week the names of non-existent big winners.

In the Michael Radford film adaptation, the ministry is renamed the Ministry of Production, or MiniProd.

Ministry of Truth[edit]

Senate House, London, where Orwell's wife worked at the Ministry of Information, was his model for the Ministry of Truth

The Ministry of Truth is the propaganda ministry. 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.

Description[edit]

Winston Smith, the main character of Nineteen Eighty-Four, works at the Ministry of Truth.[5] 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.[6]

Role in information[edit]

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.

Departments[edit]

The following are the departments of the ministry mentioned in the text:

  • Records Department (Recdep in Newspeak)
  • Fiction Department (Ficdep)
    • Pornography Section (Pornosec)
  • Tele-programmes Department (Teledep)

Cultural impact[edit]

The novel's popularity has resulted in the term "Room 101" being used to represent a place where unpleasant things are done.

  • In the BBC comedy television series Room 101, the concept is radically changed from that of Orwell, and celebrities are invited to discuss their pet hates and persuade the host to consign them to oblivion, as metaphorically represented by the idea of Room 101.
  • In the 2005 series of Big Brother (UK), a housemate was required to enter a Room 101 to complete tedious and unpleasant tasks, including sorting different colours of maggots.

In fiction[edit]

In The Ricky Gervais Show, Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant play a game called "Room 102," based on the concept of "Room 101," in which Karl Pilkington has to decide what things he dislikes enough to put in Room 102. This would result, according to their game, in these things being erased from existence.

The name "Ministry of Peace", and shorthand "Minipax", appear in the US science fiction TV series Babylon 5. The Ministry of Peace first appears in the episode "In the Shadow of Z'ha'dum". It is a sinister organisation, created to instill loyalty to the government of Earth and root out dissent; one of its senior staff is a "Mr Welles". In its role it more closely resembles the novel's § Ministry of Love (which is responsible for the Thought Police and the interrogation of dissidents) than it does the Ministry of Peace depicted in Nineteen Eighty-Four.

In The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: Black Dossier, set in Britain after the fall of the Big Brother government, the Ministry of Love is actually MI5 and its physical location is given as the MI6 headquarters at Vauxhall Cross, noted by a young spy named Jimmy (a thinly veiled James Bond).

In the 2011 Doctor Who episode "The God Complex", The Doctor and his companions find themselves in a hotel full of their own personal Room 101s, each with their greatest fear in it.[8]

One sketch on That Mitchell and Webb Sound involved the hapless residents of room 102, the telescreen repair centre, who could not ignore the things happening in the next room. They were greatly inconvenienced by some of the more irrational fears, like killer whales, and suspicious of the number of people who claimed their worst fear was sex.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Orwell, George (1949). Nineteen Eighty-Four. Secker and Warburg. ISBN 0-452-28423-6. 
  2. ^ "The Real Room 101". BBC. Archived from the original on 5 January 2007. 
    Meyers, Jeffery. Orwell: Wintry Conscience of a Generation. W.W.Norton. 2000. ISBN 0-393-32263-7, p. 214.
  3. ^ "BBC Broadcasting House – Public Art Programme 2002–2008". Retrieved 2009-05-18. 
  4. ^ Brooks, Richard (23 March 2003). "Orwell’s room 101 to be work of art". The Sunday Times (London). Retrieved 2009-05-18. 
  5. ^ "Literature Network, George Orwell, 1984, Summary Pt. 1 Chp. 4". Retrieved 2008-08-27. 
  6. ^ 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. 
    Humphreys, Rob (2003). The Rough Guide to London. Rough Guides Limited. p. 146. ISBN 1-84353-093-7. 
    "Orwell Today, Ministry of Truth". Retrieved 2008-08-27. 
  7. ^ Byrnes, Sholto; Tonkin, Boyd (18 June 2004). "Anna Funder: Inside the real Room 101". The Independent (London). Retrieved 2008-02-02.  (Profile of Funder and her book, Stasiland)
  8. ^ Risely, Matt (18 September 2011). "Doctor Who: "The God Complex" Review". IGN. Retrieved 31 March 2012.