Two Minutes Hate

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The Two Minutes Hate, from George Orwell's novel Nineteen Eighty-Four, is a daily period in which Party members of the society of Oceania must watch a film depicting the Party's enemies (notably Emmanuel Goldstein and his followers) and express their hatred for them for exactly two minutes.

Details from Nineteen Eighty-Four[edit]

The protagonist's feelings, the psychological methods and their effects within a social setting are analyzed in detail by Orwell in the following passage:

The horrible thing about the Two Minutes Hate was not that one was obliged to act a part, but that it was impossible to avoid joining in. Within thirty seconds any pretence was always unnecessary. A hideous ecstasy of fear and vindictiveness, a desire to kill, to torture, to smash faces in with a sledge hammer, seemed to flow through the whole group of people like an electric current, turning one even against one's will into a grimacing, screaming lunatic. And yet the rage that one felt was an abstract, undirected emotion which could be switched from one object to another like the flame of a blowlamp.[1]

The film and its accompanying auditory and visual cues (which include a grinding noise that Orwell describes as "of some monstrous machine running without oil") are a form of brainwashing to Party members, attempting to whip them into a frenzy of hatred and loathing for Emmanuel Goldstein and the current enemy superstate. Apparently, it is not uncommon for those caught up in the hate to physically assault or throw things at the telescreen, as Julia does during the scene.

The film becomes more surreal as it progresses, with Goldstein's face morphing into a sheep as enemy soldiers advance on the viewers, before one such soldier charges at the screen, submachine gun blazing. He morphs, finally, into the face of Big Brother at the end of the two minutes. At the end, the mentally, emotionally, and physically exhausted viewers chant "B-B!...B-B!" over and over again, ritualistically.

Within the book, the purpose of the Two Minutes Hate is to satisfy the citizens' subdued feelings of angst and hatred from leading such a wretched, controlled existence. By re-directing these subconscious feelings away from the Oceanian government and toward external enemies (which may not even exist), the Party minimises subversive thought and behaviour.

In the first Two Minutes Hate of the book, the audience is introduced to Inner Party member and key character O'Brien. Within the novel, hate week is an extrapolation of the two-minute period into an annual week-long festival.

Origins of the term[edit]

Orwell did not invent the idea behind the term "two minutes hate"; it was already in use in the First World War.[2] At that time, British writers satirised the German campaign of hatred against the English, and imagined a Prussian family sitting around the kitchen table having its "morning hate".[3]

In addition, short daily artillery bombardments made by either side during the First World War, and aimed at disrupting enemy routines, were known as "hates":

The evening of this same inspection was one of the few occasions on which Pommier was bombarded. A sudden two minutes’ ‘hate’ of about 40 shells, 4.2 and 5.9, wounded three men and killed both the C.O.’s horses, ‘Silvertail’ and ‘Baby’

— A record of 1/5th Battalion of the Leicestershire Regiment, T.F., during the First World War, 1914–1918[2]

Use of Orwell's concept[edit]

The attacks on the liberal opposition by state-owned Russian television channels such as Russia-1 have been characterised as reminiscent of the "two minutes hate". Russian television portrayed Ukrainian troops as monsters during the War in Donbass. One of the most notorious examples was a 2014 hoax report on Channel One Russia that Ukrainian soldiers had crucified a three-year-old.[4]

American propaganda by the Committee on Public Information during World War I has also been compared to the propaganda in the "two minutes hate" program.[5]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Nineteen Eighty-four, by George Orwell : chapter1.1". Retrieved 10 September 2017.
  2. ^ a b 5th Battalion the Leicestershire Regiment (29 October 1916). "Monchy Au Bois". British Isle Genealogy. Retrieved 12 November 2009.
  3. ^ Graves, Charles Larcom (14 March 2004) [First impression July 1919]. "Mr. Punch's History of the Great War 1919". Punch. Retrieved 11 September 2017 – via Project Gutenberg.
  4. ^ Ennis, Stephen (4 February 2015). "How Russian TV uses psychology over Ukraine". Archived from the original on 2 March 2015. Retrieved 20 March 2015.
  5. ^ Kennedy, David M. (16 September 2004). Over Here: The First World War and American Society. OUP USA. p. 62. ISBN 978-0-19-517399-4. Retrieved 11 September 2017.