“Two ways of exercising power over men, of controlling their relations, of separating out their dangerous mixtures. The plague stricken town, transversed throughout with hierarchy, surveillance, observation, writing; the town immobilized by the functioning of an extensive power that bears in a distinct way over all individual bodies-this is the utopia of the perfectly governed city” Page 6 Michel Foucault This quote extracted from the Essay Panopticism written by Michel Foucault perfectly describes in detail the controls put on the citizens of Big Brother’s Oceania in George Orwell’s 1984.
Through control of relation, surveillance, and separating out their dangerous mixtures Big Brother obtains a government system, which is described by Foucault as a “Utopia. ” The Utopia relies upon more than one method of control as noted by Foucault, but the far most significant method is surveillance. “The telescreen received and transmittes simultaneously. Any sound that Winston made, about the level of a very low whisper, would be picked up by it; moreover, as long he remained within the field of vision which the metal plaque was commanded, he could be seen as well as heard” Page 6 Orwell.
In Orwell’s 1984 the surveillance is achieved by the distressing, constant presence of the telescreen. No individual was free of the thought that the vigilant telescreen would catch you in some undefiable act, which would lead to unquestionable vaporization. “This enclosed, segmented space, observed at every point, in which the individuals are inserted in a fixed place, in which the slightest movements are supervised, in which all events are recordedâ€¦” Page 5 Foucault The panopticon in Foucault essay is stressing exactly the same purpose as that of the telescreen in Orwell’s 1984.
Simply that constant threat of punishment , but only if caught and in order to remain safe you must constantly behave as the ideal you are desired to be. To have the threat of being watched present, but not knowing whether or not in actuality you are being watched is what leads you to become that ideal member of the Utopia which in essence is exactly what the government wants. The effect of the telescreen was simply complete control over Winston’s every move, thought, and word that came from his mouth.
You watch as he lived in life in fear of the Party, in fear of the Thought Police stripping him of the little that he does have. His mind was racing full of thoughts he couldn’t speak. His heart burned with hatred and anger for the party, which he couldn’t act upon. You can see by the party watching him they suppressed what he said, and did all by posing that tiny threat of being under watch. The very same threat of being watched constantly can make ones stomach turn but to know that there is an outside force slowly integrating its way into your life can be just as nerve racking.
Thus the Christian school must not simply train docile children; it must also make it possible to supervise the parents, to gain information as to their way of life, their resources, their piety, and their morals. ” Page 18 Foucault To truly understand someone you must not only know the individual, but those associated with that individual. By knowing and understanding the lifestyle that this person chooses to live you have gained more control than you can ever imagine. You have identified every thing that has and will take place within that person’s life.
You are now a part of their life due to your relations with those in their own lives. Foucault stresses the role of the parent in the lives of the child, and in 1984 you find it ironically twisted into the role of the children in the lives of the parent You watch as children are fed thoughts, absorb them, and with a young mind those thoughts are clenched tight. To them its simple there is one way, and it is the right way and anything other than that is wrong and you deserved the proper punishment.
“They kept on his tail for two hours, right through the woods, and then, when they got into Amersham, handed him over to the patrols. ” Page 50 Orwell Children punished the adults in the world of 1984, adults punish children in Foucault but either way by controlling family relations you gain inclusive control. That inclusive control is also gained by having the children punishing their elders which makes them some of the most dangerous members of society. Like the watchful eyes of the telescreen the children spy upon your every movement, looking for one slight transgression so they can remove one more defiant member of society.
As the little girl followed around the man through the woods you saw the great lengths that these children go to in order to keep the land free of the supposed filth, and to Winston you know it isn’t to surprising. He listened to Parsons tell the story and didn’t feel anger or animosity towards the children but got that feeling of uneasiness which is what their purpose is. They are simply another threat in Big Brothers society and watch little threat is what gives him power.
Of these threats comes one, which is the most evident and understood. The investigation as an authorization search for truth observed or attested was this opposed to the old procedures of the oath, the ordeal, the judicial duel, the judgment of God, or even of the transaction between private individuals. ” Page 29 Foucault This quote by Foucault is describing the fact that although certain acts are out of compassion, or whether it is moral obligation there is still a crime committed. A crime committed is punishment no matter what the incentive was which led to the action. In 1984 there is the Brotherhood. These are members of the population on Oceania who fight for their freedom.
These people want to be heard, want to have equality, want to fight to vanquish the dictatorship imposed upon them by the powerful Big Brother. Morally what there are doing is admirable but in Oceania it is nothing but pure crime and defiance of the power inflicted upon them by Big Brother. These were people who wanted to help the world as a whole ready at moments notice to do anything to abolish Big Brother and what he stood for ready to , “cheat, to forge, to blackmail, to corrupt the minds of children, to distribute habit forming drugs,â€¦.. Page 142 Orwell To have punishment for crimes no matter what the motive behind it was basically controlled Winston’s life in Oceania. He wanted to speak out and tell the world his thoughts. He wanted to tell people how corrupt Oceania indeed was, but he couldn’t. He couldn’t because he had punishment staring him the face.
He knew no matter what he would say, confess, or do in defense he would still be another political rebel silenced by death. He knew that political rebellion was the utmost defiant act upon the government nd all his life held it within afraid of its consequences. However as he got older those consequences entered his life. He knew he was getting involved in an organization, which had no end but death and took that choice. Whether or not his peace of mind was satisfying enough to put an end to his burning hatred within you will not know, because he was silenced as he knew he would be before his ideas were heard. Big Brothers cleverly organized, and cynical government silenced Winston’s ideas.
He used the methods of control presented to you in Michel Foucault’s essay Panopticism, which are: surveillance, control of relations, and separating out their dangerous mixtures. The telescreen’s presence altered Winston’s way of life. Control of relations changed Winston’s outlook on the people in his life. Separating the dangerous mixtures is what killed him. He joined a mixture which was separated, separated by killing him. The ironic similarities within the two works are mind boggling and intriguing, but the truth in it all is what is truly remarkable.