Kyle Sonza
Instructor Cheryl Morris
Advanced Placement Literature
27 March, 2017
Essay #5: AP Prompt 1997
The Two Minutes Hate is a ritual observance that is designed to use the collective rage of the people against supposed "enemies of the Party" to strengthen the Party's position among the people. The ritual serves to unify the people in the observance of the ritual.
The Two Minutes Hate also serves the purpose of religious observance by deifying Big Brother. It serves to channel the rage that persons may feel toward the lack of control over their own lives away from the Party and against purported enemies of the Party. Because Big Brother is proclaimed to be benevolent and good, any enemy is automatically evil and bad. While it is a "two minutes hate" the desired end result is less hatred of Big Brother.
This is very similar to what some politicians do to strengthen their position when they feel threatened. The politicians will invent an enemy and then channel the public rage against that enemy.
Part of their government's control of the population depends on their ability to convince them that there is an "enemy" out there who threatens their happiness and security, and that the government, and only the government, has the power to protect them from this enemy. It is important to keep this enemy before the people and even more important that they share some kind of emotional response to this evil person. In Nineteen Eighty-Four , that function is served by Goldstein. He threatens them; they get together to shout him down. Only to have him replaced by the image of Big Brother, the one who protects them from him. It does things on the emotional level that might not work as well on the intellectual level.
Another thing Goldstein allows Orwell to do, rather clumsily I think, is to introduce the theoretical underpinnings of the opposition when Winston gets his hands on a "copy" of "The Theory of Oligarchical Collectivism." This allows him to get information into the story that would be difficult to include without a subservice author to present the case in his text. It's similar to what Huxley does in Brave New World when he has the "lecture" at the beginning of the book when he explains how they came to be. Sometimes it's difficult for a dystopian author to get the "facts" into the story in an economical way, Goldstein allows Orwell to do this.
Living in a world dominated by war and hate, Winston Smith finds himself immersed in a society in which his individuality is lost as telescreens are everywhere as "Big Brother watches." Even his expression of emotion is dictated in his world of eternal warfare.
Winston works in the Ministry of Truth, where, ironically, he rewrites history. As Orwell's narrative begins, Winston returns home and begins to write in a secret diary. He recalls the Two Minutes Hate during his workday: As usual the face of Emmanuel Goldstein, the enemy of the state, comes upon the screen and the crowd shouts its hatred at this face. For a time, Winston shouts with them. But, he is yet capable of individual thought, so he looks around and projects his hatred upon the girl he has previously noticed. And, then, oddly enough, he finds himself hating Big Brother and preferring Goldstein. He looks over at O'Brien and wonders if the man has observed those minute instances in time in which Winston has thought on his own and has actually been sympathetic to Goldstein, who advocates freedom of speech and thought.