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Fridge Brilliance

  • As even a quick glimpse into the Headscratchers page would note, for all the claims of the Party's omnipotence and hyper-efficiency, it's arguable that the very fact that Oceanian society is clearly falling apart in several fundamental ways means that even if the Party is omnipotent and hyper-efficient, realistically it wouldn't be able to remain so for very long no matter how much the Party boasts that it will last forever. Keep in mind, however, that our primary viewpoint character is a somewhat credulous and weak-willed man who has been subjected to bombastic, self-aggrandising state propaganda about how powerful and omnipotent and untouchable the Party and Big Brother is almost his entire life — whether it's true or not, he's going to believe it almost despite himself, even if he doesn't want to.
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  • Goldstein's book says that, in all revolutions, the Low are exploited by the Middle so the latter can switch places with the High, at which point the Low are promptly forced back into their original position of enslavement and oppression. When you take into account that it was written by the Party, you realize that it's part of the Party's strategy to stop future rebellions. After all, why bother rebelling against this government when the next one is going to be just as bad, if not worse?
  • Goldstein's comment about how all revolutions involve the Middle Class manipulating the Lower Class against the Upper only for them to be supplanted is a very effective observation of totalitarianism, but it's also the truth for 2 party democracy. One party is in government while the opposition gains the trust of the populace so they can replace the government, only to become much the same type of government themselves. It's our healthy way of dealing with this psychological need.
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  • It's only a hypothesis, but: Remember at the end, when Winston contemplates the ongoing war with Eurasia? Namely, if part of the Oceanian forces could ambush the Eurasian armies from behind? And then exactly that is announced?. Well, then Winston declares he "loves Big Brother" because he doesn't even need to doublethink anymore; he sees the world the way he is "supposed" to, with an eternal and invincible Party.
  • The name "Winston Smith." "Winston" would immediately call to mind the name of Winston Churchill, one of the heroes of World War II, to the reader when it was first published. "Smith" is a surname for the generic everyman. Orwell deliberately chose this character's name to demonstrate how powerful and how total the Party's control of this world is.
  • Winston freaking out at the thought of sex near the end. Why? Well, consider that extreme psychological trauma can cause impotence note . Now consider everything Winston went through in the Miniluv, from near-daily beatings (including repeated Groin Attacks) to selling out his love under threat of being devoured by rats. That's right, ladies and gentlemen: Winston was rendered impotent by the Ministry of Love.
    • Also that Winston has finally accepted The Party's ideal view of sex, that it's a disgusting act which should only ever be done for breeding purposes, the exact reason he hated his wife so much. He has become everything he used to hate.
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  • On a similar (though probably not intentional) note, the Party's tactic of discouraging sexuality and family ties to eliminate competing loyalties actually has historical precedent. Why did so many monarchs throughout history employ eunuchs in their retinues? Well, the theory was that men who couldn't produce heirs wouldn't try to start their own dynasties (or knock up the ladies of the Royal Harem), and that men without families be loyal to the crown alone (though this part of the theory turned out to be pretty naïve, hence the Eunuchs Are Evil trope).
  • God Is Power. Orwell wrote the book. Therefore Orwell is god of everything that happens within, and has the power to keep the dystopia running.
    • O'Brien could "float off the ground like a soap bubble if he wanted to". Well, if Orwell wanted him to, he really would.
  • The very fact that Charrington's shop is still in business really makes no sense until you find out he's a member of the Thought Police and thus the whole store is most likely secretly run by The Party as a trap to draw out thought criminals: It's basically an antique shop in an area where people seem to have very little interest in the past, and the odd Outer Party member wandering in and surreptitiously buying things probably wouldn't bring in enough money to pay rent, let alone turn a profit - Winston himself points out that he never sees any other customers. Furthermore, while Charrington rents Winston a room and shows him things from the past, he doesn't really try to sell him anything more: If you were a struggling business owner, and one of the few people who seemed interested in your wares was now making frequent stops in your store, you'd probably be making more effort to unload some of your old stock on him.
  • It is established almost immediately in the book that Ingsoc is incompetent in anything that doesn't maintain its own power. Windows take years to fix, working elevators are a luxury, and as Winston laments, even working boots can become a rarity. Why is this? Because the people in these committees that are in charge of these levels of production and maintenance are former visitors to the Ministry of Love! Soulless Ingsoc-approved puppets who get appointed to "pointless" committees to keep them out of trouble. At the end of the book, Winston's new position very well could be "Senior Window Maintenance Subcommittee Administrator"!
  • This Troper realized something, I think 1984 is a misnomer. Just hear me out, when The Party took over in a violent coup; They reset the calendars back to zero (Anything before The Party does not exist). So when 1984 came around, the real year is actually 3968.
    • But Winston remembers (vaguely) a time before the Party, so unless he's actually 1990 years old...

Fridge Horror

  • Fridge horror abounds when you read back the passages that Winston reads from Theory and Practices of Oligarchical Collectivism with the knowledge that O'Brien collaborated with other Party intellectuals in writing it; whilst it mostly dispenses with the Party lies and doublethink and tells the truth about the perpetual war, there is nothing in it that actually CRITICISES the Party at all. It’s very likely to have been their manifesto from before they seized power!
    • Perhaps the most chilling aspect of "Theory and Practices" is that it must have been written in doublethink, meaning the people who wrote it were both aware and not aware that they were writing it. This is the only possibility if you assume the book's claims about doublethink are accurate, which O'Brien says is the case. At first Orwell sets the reader up to think the Inner Party members are above their own deception, given that they even wrote a book describing the exact reality of their regime. But then when O'Brien reveals that he is constantly using doublethink even when he explains doblethink, you realize his contributions to the book, including the parts about doublethink, were both conscious and unconscious. And since the book was written not just by O'Brien but by a committee, that means at some point there was a room of Inner Party members openly discussing how they gaslight themselves while being both aware and not aware that they were doing so. According to "the Book" itself, "The subtlest practicioners of doublethink are those who invented doublethink and know that it is a vast system of mental cheating. Those who have the best knowledge of what is happening are also those who are further from seeing the world as it is. The greater the understanding, the greater the delusion: the more intelligent, the less sane."
      • Notably, "Theory and Practices" is not written in Newspeak but in plain but eloquent language, which means it's even possible that the people who wrote it believed they were part of Goldstein's resistance group while they were writing it, but also didn't.
      • This fridge horror applies also to the other interactions with O'Brien. While consciously decieving Winston by pretending to be a member of the Brotherood, it's possible that he also believed that he was. He talks about how the Party has existed forever and that there is no such thing as objective history, while using the examples of Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union to illustrate why this is important. There is probably not a waking moment when O'Brien is not actively gaslighting himself.
  • Try as you might, you can't find a way for the side of "Truth" to defeat The Party in 1984.
    • Think about the very concept of The Party itself. It is an all-seeing, all-knowing, incomprehensible entity that can essentially bend the reality of those it controls. Any naysayers or free thinkers? It WILL find them, it WILL rape their very souls and WILL bend them to its will. It likely will never die, and could likely claim that it had been around since the dawn of eternity. Sounds more like an Eldritch Abomination than a government.
    • The Party defeated itself with eleven words: "When we are omnipotent, we will have no need for science."
  • Quite a big horror moment comes when you realise that Orwell created the world of Oceania by extrapolating the real world rise of Nazism and Stalinism. This rooting in the real world is absolutely terrifying.
    • A similar In-Universe horror is that the founders of The Party looked at Nazism and Stalinism and decide they hadn't gone far enough.
  • Even if you're in the Inner Party, you're leading a shallow life of self-gratification at the expense of others, with nothing to show for it because as soon as you die, you will be written out of history so that your successors can be the ones who made your accomplishments and have always been around until the same thing happens to them. If doublethink were a beverage, you'd be downing it faster than your liquor.
  • Even if the reader can console themselves with the implication, real or imagined, that Oceania will eventually one day fall and the reign of Big Brother cannot last, the novel is still brimming with Fridge Horror — the horror of Ingsoc might end one day, but that's cold consolation for Winston Smith and the millions more like him who are broken, defeated and ultimately destroyed by it on a daily basis until it does. And even if it does collapse, the way it collapses — and what's left after it does — is most likely not going to be very pleasant...
  • There are subtle hints throughout the book that O'Brien wasn't just monitoring Smith, but that he actively set Winston up to commit Party treason just so that O'Brien could catch him and break him, seemingly just for his own amusement. Gets even more chilling when you consider the "How does one man prove his power over another?" dialogue they have in the Ministry of Love.
    • Mind you, it's not for amusement. The Party needs enemies of the people so that it can uphold the perpetual crusade against traitors and Goldsteinists. So, what should it do after there are no enemies left as a result of the Purges? But of course, create new ones!
  • At the end when Winston's last encounter with Julia is described, the narration mentions her having a scar across her forehead and temple. This, combined with the seemingly-devoid-of-emotion-and-rebellion mindset, implies the Party found despite Room 101, Julia needed further brainwashing. Thus, she had her pre-frontal cortex removed in a lobotomy.
    • Of course, it could have been that the notion of a lobotomy may have been as anathema to her as the rats were to Winston — after all, something so "crude" as a lobotomy seems like it would be below The Party's tastes in methods.
  • Given how horrid the children in this world are to their own parents, who's to say Parson's daughter was telling the truth when she reported him for sleep talking? He isn't the kind of guy to oppose or even doubt the Party, and it's been established that kids in this world will lie and turn their own parents in to the Party if they don't do as the children want.
  • People talk about the Appendix being written in past tense as something of a Happy Ending, in that the Party clearly met its end and the world the Appendix lives in is looking back on the world the Party tried to create. But with Goldstein's book talking about how the Middle conspires to replace the Top's tyranny, only for the Middle (now the new-Top) to be tyrannical in their own right, AND how the Book and O'Brien talk about how previous states failed because they didn't adhere to their rules as strictly as they should... This may mean that Ingsoc may have been replaced by an even MORE tyrannical government (which is the world that the Appendix lives in).
  • Many people have pointed out that there's no way the Party could survive, since the inability to even verbalize their own philosophy makes it impossible to insure that its always passed on 100% correctly... Then you realize, they DO verbalize it... Within a very short period. Winston was promoted after his treason. Committing treason is part of the initiation into the Inner Party. That's why Goldstein's book so thoroughly described the workings of the Party: It allows the Inner Party to be made up of people who fully understand the philosophy, while no Inner Party members have to verbalize it.
  • Imagine how HORRID the toilets are! It never gets mentioned in the novel, but considering how everything else is utterly grotty, I bet the toilets are horrific.
    • On a related note, if such minor things as razor blades or shoelaces (the ones specifically mentioned) are nearly impossible to obtain, how do women in this world cope with menstrual sanitation?
  • Think back to all the Proles that Winston meets; the ones Winston talks to in the course of the story seem almost incapable of forming coherent thoughts. The only Prole who seems to have any decent mental faculties is Mr. Charrington, and he later turns out to be a member of the Thought Police. So perhaps O'Brien is correct in assuming that the Proles will never be a threat to The Party.
  • The entire Brotherhood is set up to fail, even if their reach did expand. As long as they have no means of identifying each other, and can't help captured members, the Party would continue even if every person in Oceana was converted. The Party rigged the game in more ways than one.
  • When Winston reunites with Julia at the end, he notes that she's thicker around the waist and her feet have gotten broader. Both are signs of pregnancy. If Julia is indeed pregnant, well, there's only one place that baby could have come from in the Ministry of Love...
  • The wickedness of Ingsoc means any Emeth Tarkaan Expies are identified as children. What horrors does Miniluv inflict on any who refuse to be corrupted?
  • The fact that O’Brien is set up as the dominating antagonist of the story is especially chilling when you realise that he’ll also inevitably meet the same fate as Winston.
    • He mentions Syme and speaks about how rats used to be used for torture before the rule of the Party. If Parsons was tortured just for whispering in his sleep, O’Brien would likely have already been taken by the end of the book.
  • A special kind of horror creeps in when you realize that, although it's not quite as awful as in the book yet, Real Life is very much headed in this direction. Reading Nineteen Eighty-Four may have been terrifying and depressing in its day, but today (late in 2018) it's easy to shrug and think "what's the big deal? Seems pretty familiar". The only thing that isn't about to be implemented (as far as we know) is the deliberate destruction of languagesnote .
    • Omnipresent surveillance? Commonplace today in a myriad ways, and it gets worse with every little so-called anti-terrorism law the governments sneak behind their peoples' back. You can never be sure that whatever you say, do or write isn't recorded to be used against you later, even when you're at home.
    • Perpetual war far away from the populaces' eyes, most of it waged for meaningless ideological reasons? Yeah, we have that, too, all over the world. Hundreds, if not thousands die every day in distant regions of the globe, and most people have become so numb or oblivious to it that they don't much care about it anymore, just like the people of Ingsoc. Sometimes a bomb goes off in a major population center, or another act of terrorism happens, a bunch of people die, there's the usual outrage, the governments waste no time to enact even more surveillance laws for the sake of security, and soon everything's back to business as usual - just like in Ingsoc. Studies have found that people are becoming increasingly blasé to extreme levels of violence due to the overexposure to it in the media, which may one day result in folks kicking severed body parts into the gutter without even noticing, just like Winston does after the missile strike.
    • Poverty is on the rise world-wide despite the world's accumulated wealth being larger than ever. Even in most first-world countries (the US being one of the worst examples), a horrifyingly large percentage of the population is barely making ends meet. A single medical emergency or natural disaster can ruin these people beyond recovery, making them either dependent on the government or possibly slide into crime to survive. Claiming that this is engineered by the higher-ups goes deep into conspiracy theory territory, but it's still a worrying development no matter where it's coming from.
    • Pervasive ideological indoctrination of the populace is pretty much mandatory for any authoritarian government worth its salt, and since authoritarianism is on the rise world-wide, indoctrination is, too. Many people also tend to swallow everything the media tell them without questioning, which, coupled with how Internet search engines prioritize results that fit your world view, makes it even easier to manipulate what people think and possibly even who they elect, as the Cambridge Analytica affair about the 2016 presidential election in the US showed. It's still far from Ingsoc-levels of mindfuck, but everything started small one day.
    • Finally, as has been mentioned before, look no further than states like North Korea if you want proof of how close some parts of the world have already come to implementing the Ingsoc handbook in Real Life. Most of the globe may be shunning these extreme examples - for now - but it's ultimately only a matter of time until more power-hungry leaders realize how awesome that is to stay in power forever, especially now that some major Western powers have begun cozying up to North Korea for certain reasons.
  • The scene in the Ministry of Love with a starved prisoner struggling against being dragged to room 101? His pleads to take someone else in his place? It foreshadows Winston's future betrayal of Julia even more completely once we realize who the prisoner asks to get punished instead of him: First his wife and children, then the fat co-prisoner. Note that the fat prisoner was the one who attempted to share a piece of bread with him (and got subsequently beaten up for that). Room 101's ultimate purpose is conditioning people to betray specifically the ones who care and show compassion to them.

Fridge Logic

  • One particularly famous example: Oceania is dominated by the Americas, with the British Isles being little more than a convenient Airstrip One for attacking Eurasia. So why would the Oceanians base their whole society on "Ingsoc" — English Socialism?
    • This of course leads to all sorts of Wild Mass Guessing about the true extent of Oceania...
    • Maybe it has a different name in every country of Oceania? "Libertysoc" in the US, "Neomateship" in Australia, "Modern Bolivarianism" in South America, etc.
    • Or it could be a reference to the Anglosphere (considering that the full implementation of Newspeak will eliminate the concept of Ingsoc — the name itself implies a definition in comparison to something else — we can expect generic references to 'the Party' to prevail over time).
    • Or perhaps since the author was British, he assumed that Britain had dominated the Americas, not the other way around.
      • Except the in-universe explanation was that it was, in fact, the other way around.
    • It could even be that Ingsoc is the equivalent of something like the DDR to the USSR. The USSR run the show but the DDR has its own puppet government. Ingsoc could be the puppet government/party of whatever the American party is.
  • In the extreme symmetry between the three identical countries, somehow Oceania always allies with either Eurasia or Eastasia. We never see a point when it would be alone, with Eurasia allying Eastasia. It surely would be a burden for their respective Ministries of Truth to switch between "having an ally" and "having no ally." There is one solution to that problem though: A fourth country (Africa?) with which Oceania never interacts; When Oceania is allied with Eurasia, Eastasia is allied with the fourth country. That way symmetry is retained.
    • Or the wars are completely imaginary and are pure propaganda. We only have The Party's word that the war is even happening in the first place. For all we know, there is no war and The Party is manipulating the people. Even Goldstein acknowledged that the Party is manipulating the people through the wars, so they would have reason to make them up. This would also explain why the bombs seem to only fall in prole neighborhoods. The Party is bombing its own country but ensures no loyal members are harmed.
      • This would also help to keep the economy stagnant and unchanging. Given the majority of production is put into "the war", as production goes up there are more bombs to direct back onto the country, thus lowering production back down.
    • Another possibility is that, since the wars are to maintain the balance of power (and thus the two weaker countries ally against the strongest), the three countries are not quite symmetrical - if Oceania is clearly weaker than the other two, than it would always ally against the second strongest against the strongest. This would make sense if the population distribution of the world was similar to what it is today, in which Oceania would have significantly fewer people than Eastasia and probably fewer than Eurasia as well, depending on how much of the Middle East Eurasia controls.
  • The Party's strategy hinges on the idea that an eternal war will force the citizens to accept any deprivation. However, in the real world, the Soviets came to power because the peasants could not tolerate the Tsar's wars anymore, and were willing to accept anything - even defeat - to return to peace. As a result, one of Lenin's first acts in office was to cede territories containing over a third of the Russian empire's population to Germany. And Orwell was surely aware of this - 1984 was based on the Soviet Union. Maybe the party's strategy isn't as foolproof as it seems...
    • You are overstating Russian antiwar sentiment - it was more a question of the redirection of hostility from external to internal enemies (the people who defected from the eastern front were quite happy to fight the Russian Civil War after WWI was over). And one of the virtues of fighting a phony war instead of a real one (whether Oceania's wars were entirely or just partially phony) is that the government can tailor its militarism to its interest in maintaining power, rather than finding itself overreaching into warfare which undermines itself (as happened to WWI Russia). And the history of Russia suggests that even if The Party's strategy for dominance is less than foolproof, this is just another example of a false hope spot, because the fall of one dictatorship is merely prelude to the rise of another one. Even the fall of the Soviet Union, one of the most improbable bright spots of human history, was just a prelude for Putin's authoritarianism.
  • Besides the possibility of the Newspeak Appendix being written at a time after the fall of INGSOC, the near-invasion of Oceania in the last chapter may be the closest thing to an implied distant happy ending: "It was not merely a question of losing Central Africa; for the first time in the whole war, the territory of Oceania itself was menaced." This may mean the ruling party of Eurasia has grown tired of the endless stalemate game and is trying to change the status quo of the war, and while this would of course lead to mass carnage, if the war could change then other changes to the world would also be on the table.
    • In fact, Orwell may have intended this passage to give the reader a glimmer of hope for the fall of INGSOC, only to have that hope crushed while the POV character ironically regards it as a happy ending.
    • This is, of course, assuming the whole broadcast wasn't completely made up. It's entirely possible that the core territory of Oceania is "menaced for the first time" every few weeks to keep the population anxious and jingoistic.
  • If The Book was actually written by O'Brien, how'd he get it printed? Is there a printing press somewhere staffed with Proles wondering why The Party is paying them to mass produce Goldenstien's Lies?
  • If The Party is willing to go so far as to have a policy against sex in case people come to like it more than Big Brother, then why do they allow beer?
    • Easy—they can monitor and control the quality of beer they create, while sex is considerably harder to do that with. It's easy to make a beer people hate, it's considerably harder to force people to have bad sex. Best to just ban it completely.

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