1984, by George Orwell, is the story of Winston Smith, a 39 year old man living in the dystopian future society of Oceania. The people are controlled and oppressed by the Party, led by the omnipresent Big Brother. Free speech and rebellious thought are forbidden from the people, who are taken away by the Thought Police and punished for disobeying the Party. Winston, a low ranking member of the Party who has the tedious job of rewriting history, meets a woman named Julia, who he carries out a forbidden love affair with. They are eventually caught by the Thought Police, and Winston is tortured in a secret room for weeks. The torture is designed to shatter Winston's reason, and cause him to love Big Brother once more. When finally faced with the option of having his face torn up by rats or betraying Julia, he chooses the latter. This final act of submission concludes his rehabilitation, and he is released back into society, with a renewed love for the Party.
A Clockwork Orange is a novel by Anthony Burgess, also set in a future dystopian society. The book is narrated by 15 year old Alex, a gang leader with a taste for violence, rape, and classical music. Alex associates the powerful orchestral symphonies he listens to with violence, daydreaming of beating people and once even raping two young girls to the music of Beethoven's Ninth. Alex becomes increasingly demanding of his gangmates, and they decide to get rid of him. During a robbery, they abandon him to be arrested by the police. He is sent to prison for 14 years, but after a short while, is offered an alternative treatment that will have him out in weeks. Alex is handed over to doctors who submit him to the revolutionary 'Ludovico's Technique'. The method is to occasionally beat him to anger him, give him an injection of a mind controlling drug, and then expose him to hours of videos of violence and crime. After a time, the violent images he is forced to watch make him ill. The mere thought of violence repulses him, and makes him want to vomit. He is released, but his parents have abandoned him. He stumbles to the house of F. Alexander, a widowed man who is strongly opposed to criminal rehabilitation. Alex and his gang killed his wife long ago in a robbery, and Alexander slowly realizes this. He takes Alex to an apartment to begin their 'protest' against the government. Locking Alex in, he plays loud classical music that drives Alex mad. He feels incredibly sick, and tries to kill himself by jumping out the window. He survives, and wakes up cured of the Ludovico's Technique. He had be in a coma for weeks, and the government had taken the brainwashing away from him to cover up the publicity of their untested technique driving a man to suicide. Alex is free to commit crime once more, but discovers he has grown out of violence altogether.
In both of these novels, too much government control causes its people to lose their freedom and individuality.
Dystopian societies are the settings in both novels. In 1984, the citizens of Oceania are forbidden to speak out against the Party, for fear of violent retaliation from the Thought Police. There are no laws, which allows the Party to change any policy whenever it desires, so they can easily control the people. In A Clockwork Orange, the police are brutal violent men, and crimes like robbery and rape are often overlooked by them. The police are extremely corrupt, and break many laws themselves; and when criminals are caught, the police will beat them harshly. When Alex is betrayed by his gang members, the police beat and mistreat Alex for hours. Even his parole officer is offered a chance to attack Alex:
"'If you'd like to give him a bash in the chops, sir... don't mind us. We'll hold him down. He must be another great disappointment for you." (Burgess, 53)
In both 1984
and A Clockwork Orange
, the citizens are denied their rights and freedom
s due to unreasonable policing and cruel punishment.
In both novels, the governments rehabilitate criminals to become mindless productive members of society against their free will. In 1984, rebellious thinkers who disobey the Party and Big Brother are captured by the Thought Police. Winston is caught in his love affair with Julia, and taken away by the Thought Police. He is knocked out, and taken to the Ministry of Love, and subjected to torture on the rack. O'Brien, the man in charge of rehabilitating Winston, forces him to be believe many ludicrous things that are obviously false, but made to seem reasonable to the victim. O'Brien holds up four fingers, and asks Winston how many fingers he is holding up. Every time Winston answers "Four", he is tortured until finally Winston cracks.
He is deprived
of food to weaken his will and make him easier to manipulate
. When Winston
is strapped into a chair with rats about to eat his face, he ultimately betrays Julia
, and pleads with O'Brien
that she be tortured instead of he. He is released back into society, an empty shell of a man, broken down and rebuilt by the Party to love Big Brother
once more. In CWO
, Alex is subjected to Ludovico's Technique
, where he is strapped into a chair and forced to watch movies of gore and violence
with his eyelids clipped back and his head held firm. Prior to the treatment, he is injected with mind altering chemicals
that make him susceptible to their hypnosis
. After weeks of this treatment, he is so repulsed by the thought of violence that it makes him retch
. One guard torments and tests Alex's treatment:
"'Would you... like to punch me in the face before I go?' 'Why?' 'Oh, just to see how you are getting along.' And he brought his litso (face) real near, a fat grin all over his rot (mouth). So I fisted up and went smack at this litso... and then, my brothers, I felt real sick again." (Burgess, 83)
Alex too, is released back into society, unable to even think or act freely because he will become violently sick. In both stories, the methods of rehabilitation are different, but the results are the same: A criminal is brainwashed
to become a model citizen
against his own free will.
The governments in both books try to hide the truth from the people, controlling their minds with false information. In 1984, the Party rewrites history as it pleases, to better control the people. Criminals charged with committing thoughtcrime are removed from history if there is anything in the news that ever praised them. Wars against other nations are altered so often that Winston has trouble believing Oceania is actually at war at all.
"The Party said the Oceania had never been in alliance with Eurasia. He, Winston Smith, knew that Oceania had in alliance with Eurasia in as short a time as four years ago. But where did that knowledge exist? Only in his own consciousness, which in any case must soon be annihilated." (Orwell, 37) Citizens
are told that their chocolate rations
are being increased, when in fact they are being decreased. The citizens love the government because they think they are being treated well, and yet they are actually being oppressed
more and more without even knowing it. In CWO
, the government writes a huge article in the newspaper about the success of Ludovico's Technique
on Alex, praising it as a failproof
method of rehabilitating
criminals. When Alex tries to commit suicide
because of his lack of will to live any longer without freedom
, the government reverses his treatment so the people do not blame the government for his suicide. Alex is still a menace to society, but he is released into society once more because of the government's mistake and coverup. Both novels manipulate the information of their own people to their favour.
The protagonists of both novels rebel against an oppressive government. In 1984, Winston follows the way of the Party reluctantly, secretly desiring to rebel against it with others like him. His wish is granted in the form of Julia, another closet rebel. They meet often and have sex, and discuss possibilities of taking down the government. In Oceania, there are no laws to break, but this is to strengthen government control by allowing it to do what it pleases to the people without consequence. Independant thoughts and free love are generally regarded as illegal, because if caught, the Thought Police will punish severly, in any way they please. Winston rebels against the Party by enjoying the forbidden pleasures in life, such as sex, or even real coffee. In A Clockwork Orange, Alex, at the age of fifteen, rapes and murders innocent people just because they are harmless law-abiding people. In a world where crime is punished severly and authourities are corrupt, Alex and his friends break every law. A government that enforces too many strict laws on the people only strengthens the resolve of people to rebel against it. In either novel, an oppressive government causes rebellious actions by their protagonists.
Propaganda and hypnosis are common methods of controlling the people in both A Clockwork Orange and 1984. In the latter, a daily exercise called the 'Two Minute Hate' is performed. People sit in front of a large telescreen like an assembly, and watch images of the Party's enemies and scenes of war. This hypnotic video builds excitement in the people, and soon they are on their feet screaming with rage at the visage of rebel leader Emmanuel Goldstein, and praising the name of Big Brother. In two short minutes, the calm citizens are converted to raging bloodthirsty animals, and then turned back into docile civilians once more, with a renewed appreciation for their leader, Big Brother. Even the rebellious Winston feels the same compelling effects of rage brought on by the propaganda that others in the room felt.
"In a lucid moment, Winston found that he was shouting with the others and kicking his heel violently against the rung of his chair." (Orwell, 16)
In A Clockwork Orange
, doctors present hypnotic videos to Alex as part of the Ludovico's Technique. These videos are similar to the Two Minute Hate
, in that they show scenes of violence and war. Instead of exciting Alex though, these movies are designed to make him ill. Despite Alex's strong love for blood and inflicting pain, these videos make him feel very sick. He does not feel remorse
or horror towards these videos, just illness. The hypnotic effects of the movie influence the way he thinks, and he unconsciously trains himself to not think violent thought, to avoid the feelings.
The government in both novels seeks absolute control over its people. Through methods of criminal rehabilitation, brainwashing, hypnosis, propaganda, and blatant lying, the government can control the easily manipulatable people. In most cases, the people do not even know they are being controlled, and believe things are going quite well in their world. In the end, the government always wins, in Winston's case, he is reformed with a new love for the Party. Alex, antihero of A Clockwork Orange, was reformed, and then reverted back to his normal state by the government. The governments of 1984 and CWO control their people too much, causing them to be robbed of their selfawareness and differences.