1984: The Party Has Many Slogans


In George Orwell\'s 1984, the Party, the government of Oceania, has many
slogans. One of the sayings is “Big Brother Is Watching You”. Despite the fact
that the slogan is only mentioned a few times throughout the novel, it embodies
the government that Orwell has created.
We first learn of the slogan when the setting is described on the first
page of the book. Orwell depicts, in explicit detail, the sights, sounds, and
smells of Oceania. When illustrating the hallways of Victory Mansions, Winston
Smith\'s and other members of the Party\'s apartment complex, Orwell writes:

On each landing, opposite the lift shaft, the poster
with the enormous face gazed from the wall. It was
one of those pictures which are so contrived that the
eyes follow you about when you move. Big Brother Is
Watching You, the caption beneath it ran (5).

This poster shows Big Brother as having a face. Big Brother was not an
individual person so he did not have a “face”. The face, however, gives Big
Brother a human quality. By doing so, the government puts itself on the same
level of humanity as the citizens that it governs. The people are supposed to
feel more comfortable with a ruling party that is just like them. The billboard
is also found on every landing and every streetcorner. The overbearing number
of posters is a way for the Party to continuously remind its citizens of its
presence and ingrain the message into the people\'s conscience and subconscience
minds.
"Big Brother" is another name for the Party. It\'s an ironic choice of
words for the Party\'s second name. First, the notion of a “big brother”
connotes a child\'s big brother. One thinks of comfort and protection, fun and
trouble, and love and other feelings when thinking of a brother. One of the
Party\'s goals is to rid Oceania of these emotions. Second, the brother is part
of the family unit. The Party is trying to destroy the family and the feelings
associated with it (Kalechofsky 114).
The phrase "Big Brother Is Watching You" is the Party\'s way of showing its
control over the citizens of Oceania. The Party displays its power over both
the history of the world and over the citizens of Oceania\'s everyday life in
many different ways.
"Who controls the past," Orwell writes, "controls the future: who controls
the present controls the past\'" (23). The Party shows its authority over
humanity by changing the past, present, and future. It changes all documents in
order to fit their needs. For instance, if the Party says that something never
happened, then it never happened. All evidence of the event is destroyed.
Oceania is continuously at war with either Eurasia or Eastasia. When the Party
decides to start fighting with Eastasia and be allies with Eurasia, after years
of fighting with Eurasia, all signs of a war with Eurasia are wiped out within a
week. The documents are all falsified in the Records department. This is where
Winston works. It\'s ironic that all of the nation\'s records are changed in the
Records department and that this department is in the Ministry of Truth. In
this department, facts are rearranged, erased, added, and rewritten in order to
revise and "correct" history. There are, however, reminders of the past. Some
of these reminders are the smell of real coffee, the thought of good beer, real
sugar, a children\'s history textbook, and various objects in Mr. Charrington\'s “
ordinary” shop and room. Winston buys a diary with paper that hasn\'t been
manufactured in nearly forty years and an “archaic” pen. In the secret room,
there is a painting of a church. Churches and religion are a thing of the past.
There is also an old armchair and a big bed in the room. Their softness prompts
Winston to think of the past. Winston is the only person who remembers the past
and that there was a different kind of life in the antiquity. He tries to save
it for himself and for the future by writing a diary. It helps clarify and put
his thoughts in order. He knows that he will be caught and that future
generations will never see the diary. Nevertheless, he still feels the need to
write it for that small possibility that they will read it. The Party uses
their power so much that the changes that they\'re making are getting out of hand.
As Orwell writes, "The past was dead, the future unimaginable" (25).
Oceania\'s government controls where everyone lives. The