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Language use to control people in literacy
Pages 6 (1506 words)
In both Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four (1949) and Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale (1986), the power structures use language to control people. In Atwood's story, it is the language of religious scripture appropriated to political purposes. For example, the naming of the new center of power as "Gilead" calls upon a Biblical reference…
Another example is the use of the term "salvagings," a political euphemism with religious echoes, to refer to executions of political prisoners.
In Nineteen Eighty-Four, the political manipulation of language and the manipulation of people through the control of language is far more pervasive. With the advent of Newspeak, the Inner Party sets about defining the limits of reality to suit their own purposes. They seek to systematically eliminate all troubling concepts from the language, for example, by restricting various senses of the word "free." By careful control of the language, the Inner Party of the government hopes to prevent people from questioning Party actions or the officially sanctioned outlook upon events. This includes revisionist history, and is instantiated through a deep form of thought control, brought about principally by the control of language, but enforced ultimately by secret police, disappearances, and torture.
In contrast to this absolute despotism, Offred and Winston both use language in ways that reinforce the continuity and individual truth of their own lives. For Winston this begins with keeping a diary, in itself a subversive act. His first effort at individual thought is barely coherent, but becomes progressively better. ...
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