O’Brien tells Winston Smith, “Power is in inflicting pain and humiliation. Power is in tearing human minds to pieces and putting them together again in new shapes of your own choosing.”
Nineteen Eighty-Four is the classic dystopia of humiliation and fear and it shows how the leaders in a totalitarian regime are able to dominate masses of people by means of orchestrated terror and shame. Orwell designed the novel as a political statement about trends in modern social and political life.
Here’s a little more on power from the novel:
“The Party seeks power entirely for its own sake. We are not interested in the good of others; we are interested solely in power. Not wealth or luxury or long life or happiness: only power, pure power. What pure power means you will understand presently. We are different from all the oligarchies of the past, in that we know what we are doing. All the others, even those who resembled ourselves, were cowards and hypocrites. The German Nazis and the Russian Communists came very close to us in their methods, but they never had the courage to recognize their own motives. They pretended, perhaps they even believed, that they had seized power unwillingly and for a limited time, and that just round the corner there lay a paradise where human beings would be free and equal. We are not like that. We know that no one ever seizes power with the intention of relinquishing it. Power is not a means, it is an end. One does not establish a dictatorship in order to safeguard a revolution; one makes the revolution in order to establish the dictatorship. The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power.”
“We are the priests of power.”
“Power is power over human beings. Over the body, but, above all, over the mind. Power over matter – external reality, as you would call it – is not important. Already our control over matter is absolute. We control matter because we control the mind. Reality is inside the skull. There is nothing that we could not do. Invisibility, levitation – anything. I could float off this floor like a soap bubble if I wish to. I do not wish to, because the Party does not wish it. You must get rid of those nineteenth century ideas about the laws of Nature. We make the laws of Nature.”…
“The real power, the power we have to fight for night and day is not power over things, but over men.”
“Obedience is not enough. Unless he is suffering, how can you be sure that he is obeying your will and not his own. Power is in inflicting pain and humiliation. Power is in tearing human minds to pieces and putting them together again in new shapes of your own choosing.”
Have you written your essay yet? They are due Monday!