Portrayals of Power in Texts Concentrate on the Struggle for Human Independence
Posted On April 1, 2017
???Portrayals of power in texts concentrate on the struggle for human independence???
George Orwell??™s iconic book ???1984??? written in 1948 and the film ???V for Vendetta???, directed by James McTeigue, both contain similar portrayals of power and the struggle for human independence. Both of these texts are views of how a futuristic, dystopian world would be run with a totalitarian government in control, specifically in the UK. Propaganda, technology, destruction of language, idolization, scape goating; these are all key tools used by the governments in both V for Vendetta and 1984, to manipulate and control the citizens and to maintain their power.
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1984 is set in Oceania, and more specifically, Airstrip One, what we know to be London. Airstrip One is ruled by the political party INGSOC who is controlled initially by Big Brother. INGSOC??™s motto, which is plastered all over the streets, is ???War is Peace, Freedom is Slavery, Ignorance is Strength???. Big Brother and the party maintain power through the use of intimidation, propaganda surveillance through the telescreens, thought police and even the children who are taught from a young age to identify those who were not complacent or who appear to be unhappy with their life. Everywhere they look, the people are reminded of Big Brother??™s presence through the use of telescreens, posters and paintings with the words ???Big Brother is watching you???.
This world is a place of ongoing warfare, ongoing government surveillance, intimidation and the destruction of human independence, more specifically the breakdown of the human language. Newspeak, the language of Oceania has been described as “the only language in the world whose vocabulary gets smaller every year”, as quoted by Orwell in the novel. The whole reasoning behind Newspeak is that if a person is no longer capable of comprehending their own ideas, then the people of Oceania will no longer be able to commit thought crime because they will not know the words in which to express what they are thinking. By the year 2050 they had planned to eliminate words altogether and have everyone speaking what they referred to as ???duckspeak??? which consists of few honking noises, resembling a duck. This was another method of controlling the minds and thought of the people and taking away their independence. Winston struggles to find his independence but finds a way of expressing his thoughts and feelings in an illegal diary, which is considered as thought crime.
INGSOC??™s main ambition, put forward through the persona of Big Brother, is for the population of Airstrip One to love Big Brother and eliminate rebellion. They achieved the transference of the natural sexual desires of the human race into adoration of Big Brother and the unity in the face of adversity is re-enforced through the hatred of Goldstein. When Winston and Julia engage in sexual intercourse on numerous occasions, it is just another way that Winston is seen, fighting for his independence, to break free from the control of INSOC and Big Brother.
V for Vendetta takes place in Britain, 2027. Britain has become a nation of fear, run by a totalitarian government where surveillance and propaganda are used against the people and where minorities, such as Jews, blacks, Muslims and homosexuals are viewed as a threat and therefore are eliminated. Like 1984, their government consists of one main ruler, High Chancellor Adam Sutler, who is after total control over the people. Throughout the movie, for the main part, you only see Chancellor Sutler??™s face on a very large television screen, making him appear larger and intimidating, giving us the impression he is very powerful, similar to the telescreens Big Brother is seen on, in 1984. Nosefire is the political party following the High Chancellor, resembling INGSOC, whose motto ???Strength Through Unity, Unity Through Faith???, is initially telling the people that by conforming and having faith in the Nosefire regime and the High Chancellor, they will become stronger as a nation. This message is evident when at the end of every news report on the British Television Network (BTN), a government run organization, Lewis Prothero, nicknamed “The Voice of London”, ends every show with the saying ???As always, England prevails???.
V becomes a symbol of hope for the people, their own superhero. He has no real identity, past or even a face, making it hard for the government to identify who he is, except the Guy Fawkes mask he wears to conceal his face. He is back on a personal vendetta, one of revenge for those who tortured him at Larkhill Detention Centre. Larkhill was the place that Nosefire sent everyone they had ???black-bagged??™, usually the minorities; i.e. homosexuals, Jews and Muslims. He starts with the destruction of the Old Bailey building, which the government tries to cover up as a demolition, and then person by person, he kills everyone linked to Larkhill , including Prothero and even High Chancellor Sutler. His vendetta initially ends, when he dies, but his fight is not truly over until Evey sends V??™s body on the explosive packed train, which he had planned for his final act of revenge, destroying Parliament House.
Throughout his vendetta, the people of Britain come to the realization of the Utopia they are living in. He inspires them to stand up for themselves and fight for the rights and freedom that the Nosefire regime took away from them. V encourages this when large shipments of Guy Fawkes masks, similar to the mask V wears, are sent to everyone all throughout London. This is just the beginning of the final rebellion. The authorities are slow to react at first, until a police officer shoots a young girl for painting a wall with V??™s trademark. This action causes the citizens to start a riot, everyone one of them dressed as V. As the citizens of London march onto Parliament House, the British Army stand down and allow them to continue through their barricades. The film ends with Evey and the police inspector, Finch, on a roof top watching these proceedings together, when Finch asks Evey who V really was, she replies ???He was all of us???.
In conclusion, it is evident that in my prescribed text, 1984, and the text of my choice, V for Vendetta, portrayals of power in texts do concentrate on the struggle for human independence. This is displayed through the number of different tactics, mentioned previously, thought up by the totalitarian governments present in both texts.