Mind manipulation is the art of the formation of an individual’s thoughts, beliefs, attitudes, and personality without the individual’s knowledge or consent. Mind manipulation involves deceiving and secretive control for the benefit of the manipulator. The manipulator could be benefitted in many shapes and forms, including politically or financially. Mind manipulation is done by steadily applying increasing control over individuals through diverse techniques, for example, repeating a routine activity excessively or slowly persuading individuals to believe a lie by completely and convincingly hiding the truth. Mind manipulation is a dominant theme in both the novel 1984 through Big Brother and the Party, and in the play, The Crucible, through the dissembling character of Abigail Williams and her ability to bring chaos into the town. Through the theme of mind manipulation, the two writers, George Orwell and Arthur Miller, convey their messages.
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In 1984, the party manipulates the minds of the citizens on Oceania through propaganda. An example to that are the three party slogans “War is peace”, “Freedom is slavery”, “Ignorance is strength” that are hanging all across Oceania. Citizens are left to read these slogans and many others time after time and eventually start believing in them as it clouds their perception and judgment. Also an example is the fact that through propaganda the party manipulated the minds of their citizens into believing that they had always been at war with Eastasia and then all of a sudden manipulated them into believing that Eurasia is their enemy and not Eastasia. This was done in order to keep the citizens busy in order to prevent them from rebellion in the long run. “It was rather more of a shock to him when he discovered from some chance remark that she did not remember that Oceania, four years ago, had been at war with Eastasia and at peace with Eurasia.” (Page 154) This quote refers to Julia, Winston’s lover. This reveals the fact that the party has been able to achieve their aims and goals very well since most of the citizens, especially that of the younger generation who have been born to the party’s teachings, are having their minds shaped according to the party and are having no doubt. Another way to keep the citizens busy is by hosting events such as the Two Minutes Hate and Hate Week. Through these events, citizens are also able to get rid of all their hatred in order to be restored with love for big brother once again. Figures such as Goldstein serve for the same purpose as well.
Through education and schooling, the party is able to mind manipulate its young citizens greatly. The party fills the mind of the youth and upcoming generations with the idea that the London they currently live in is much better than the one that used to exist in the past. This way, the children would believe that the party and big brother are offering them the “easy” and best life. “Nearly all children nowadays were horrible. What was worst of all was that by means of such organizations as the Spies they were systematically turned into ungovernable discipline of the Party. On the contrary, they adored the Party and everything connected with it. The songs, the processions, the banners, the hiking, the drilling with dummy rifles, the yelling of slogans, the worship of Big Brother – it was all a sort of glorious game to them.” (Page 24) This quote reveals the extent of the ability of the party to manipulate young minds.
Mind manipulation is also achieved through the controlling and meddling with emotions. For example, Mr. Charrington and O’Brien lure Winston into believing that they are not members of the party, instead they are there to help Winston. Similarly, the party manipulated people into believing that sex is a filthy act. This way, citizens would not experience any sort of emotions other than that of love towards big brother and the party. “Sexual intercourse was to be looked on as slightly disgusting minor operation, like having an enema. This again was never put into plain words, but in an indirect way it was rubbed into every Party member from childhood onwards. There were even organizations such as the Junior Anti-Sex League, which advocated complete celibacy for both sexes.” (Page 65) This quote shows how the party is able to manipulate citizens into believing that sex is a degrading act.
Lastly, through the use of language, and control of lifestyles in party is able to manipulate its citizens and have a great impact on the shaping of their citizen’s minds. For instance, the party does not give Party members the privilege of having real goods, only Proles have the advantage. The aim behind that is to keep the Proles happy since they make up the majority of the society. Also, the party plans to narrow the range of thought of people by replacing Oldspeak with Newspeak. This way, the citizens would not be able to express their feelings or thoughts since no existing word would serve that purpose. “Don’t you see that the whole aim of Newspeak is to narrow the range of thought? In the end we shall make thoughtcrime literally impossible, because there will be no words in which to express it. Every concept that can ever be needed, will be expressed by exactly one word, with its meaning rigidly defined and all its subsidiary meanings rubbed out and forgotten.” (Page 52)
In The Crucible, Abigail’s character is the one who exerts the most mind manipulation. At the beginning of the novel, when Parris finds the girls dancing in the woods, Abigail is fully aware of the dire consequences that would most likely result from their discovered behavior. Therefore, she tries very hard to turn the tables around and transfer the blame off of her and on to someone else. Although Parris has full power and control at the very beginning, Abigail was able, with her dissembling character, to turn it all against him. She uses mind manipulation to make him believe that she is innocent and to make him feel guilty for the accusations he is making of her. Abigail says, “I will not black my face for any of them! Do you begrudge my bed, uncle?”, and Parris quickly replied by saying “No -no”. (Act I) This show how she is able to manipulate him into believing her even through her deceiving lies; for just before this speech was made by Abigail, Parris was completely convinced that she was hiding something.
Mind manipulation is also present in the way Abigail deals with the girls. In order to be safe, she threatens the girls and forces them to confess nothing but the fact that they danced and Tituba conjured Ruth Putnam’s dead sisters. “Let either of you breathe a word, or the edge of a word, about other things, and I will come to you in the black of some terrible night and I will bring a pointy reckoning that will shudder you. And you know I can do it.” (Act I) Through this speech, Abigail was able to manipulate the girls’ minds into believing they should not confess or else they would get hurt by Abigail. So, mind manipulation is achieved through control and meddling with emotions.
Mind manipulation is also achieved through the meddling with emotions in the way Abigail deals with Danforth. “Let you beware, Mr. Danforth. Think you to be so mighty that the power of Hell may not turn your wits?” (Act III) This way, Danforth gradually takes Abigail’s side and defends her to the very last moment.
Through the theme of mind manipulation in 1984, George Orwell is able to emphasize and convey his message. One of Orwell’s central messages throughout the novel is that people should start thinking independently and questioning every little aspect in their life. An individual must not accept a corrupt system without questioning it and trying to make a change because once a person accepts the corruption in a system such as the government, the system would be able to manipulate the individual’s mind in a way and eventually the person would give in to the system and would be brainwashed eventually by the system itself. This is clearly proven and emphasized on through the theme of mind manipulation in the novel. The fact that mind manipulation was achieved through propaganda highlights the fact that individuals must be aware of such aspects in life because they impact and affect anyone or everyone easily overtime, even if the individual was aware of the untruthfulness of the issue. Also, the author raises awareness about the issue of education and schooling. Parents must be aware of the education and schooling their child is receiving because it basically shapes the child’s mind as it is visible in 1984, to the extent that the children would betray their own parents for the sake of loyalty to others. Also, through the idea that control and the meddling of emotions is used to achieve mind manipulation, the author conveys his message of the importance of mental strength in an individual’s life. An individual must not be weak and allow others to play with his emotions no matter what because sooner or later the individual will lose control of his own self. Lastly, the message that George Orwell conveys through the idea of the usage of language as a means to mind manipulation is that individuals must strongly cling onto their language and work hardly to develop it because as language gets weaker, being able to express one’s thoughts and ideas gets more difficult.
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Similarly, through the theme of mind manipulation in The Crucible, Arthur Miller is able to convey one his most important messages. The author’s message is that an individual must not fully trust another easily, no matter who the person is. For example, although Abigail is Parris’s young niece, he should not have believed her so easily which led to him falling into her trap. Also, similar to George Orwell’s message, Arthur Miller emphasizes the importance of mental and emotional strength. If the girls, Parris, and Danforth are aware of the extent of control and ability of meddling with emotions Abigail has on them, she would not have been able to manipulate them the way she did.
In conclusion, the theme of mind manipulation is clearly central in both novels, 1984 by George Orwell and The Crucible by Arthur Miller. In 1984, it is visible through the Party and its citizens, while in The Crucible it is visible through the way Abigail goes about. Her manipulative skills can be observed through her dealing with Parris, the girls, and Danforth. In both novels, this theme serves as a means to convey the writers’ messages which is the dangers mind manipulation can bring. Individuals who are not aware of mind manipulation and the damage it can bring would easily fall into the traps of mind control and mind manipulation. As it is seen, in 1984, all citizens of Oceania are victims of mind manipulation and in Salem, the whole town is a victim of the same story.
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