Controlled Insanity

"1984" by George Orwell

“1984” by George Orwell

“Throughout recorded time, and probably since the end of the Neolithic Age, there have been three kinds of people in the world, the High, the Middle, and the Low,” writes George Orwell in his book, 1984. From within the pages of his book, Orwell clearly demonstrates this trend by creating three distinct social classes following the upper, middle, and lower class system, the Inner Party, the Outer Party, and the proletarians, respectively. By granting each class different benefits and privileges, Oceania fosters inequality among its citizens to keep the society frozen in a moment in time, a moment they see as beneficial and progressive in their eyes. With the Inner Party cautiously defending its position, the Outer Party will forever work under its control, and the proles will always retreat to the bottom of the social pyramid.

Limited to 6 million members, the Inner Party consists of less than two percent of the population of Oceania. With spacious living quarters, personal servants, pleasant food and drink, and more privacy, the Inner Party members enjoy a better quality of life than that of the Outer Party members or of the proles. While the members of the Inner Party regulate Ingsoc and run the Thought Police, the members of the Outer Party work the jobs assigned to them and live under constant monitoring. This thirteen percent of the population is considered to be the worst off of the three, although it represents the middle class, because of its restriction of personal freedoms and lack of comforts, such as those the Inner Party enjoys. Even though the proles are considered the lower class of Oceania and live in poverty while working physically tough jobs and receiving little to no education, they enjoy greater freedoms than those of Outer Party members. Free to pleasure themselves how they desire, the proles experience the comforts of family life and keep their humanity more than any of the other classes. “Proles are animals and free,” the Party states, while Winston, a rebellious member of the Outer Party declared, “Proles remained human.” 85 percent of the population is considered harmless and incapable of complex thought, regulation, or rebellion, and is therefore left to work and breed in their own ignorance. The proles are not required to show support for the Party, wear uniforms, or speak Newspeak. Generally objects of contempt, they are not bothered and are limitedly monitored to keep them in their place. By encasing the social pyramid in ice, human equality can be forever averted and nothing will change in Oceania.

Orwell explains that all throughout history, the upper class has strived to maintain its position, while the middle class tries to overthrow the upper class, and the lower class struggles to even survive and wishes to abolish all social barriers. Ingsoc, practiced in Oceania, is meant to perpetuate unfreedom and inequality so that history will be frozen and positions will be safeguarded. Social classes have been trapped in an unbreakable cycle over the course of history, and Oceania has put an end to these repetitions so that the High may forever hold its status and rebellions will no longer ruin the fragile structure. Aware of the threat of outbreaks, the Inner Party began monitoring the lower classes and infesting their minds with the allusion that all are treated equally. “The masses never revolt of their own accord, and they never revolt merely because they are oppressed. Indeed, so long as they are not permitted to have standards of comparison, they never even become aware that they are oppressed,” Orwell explained. Because discontent is not an expressed feeling, political changes do not strike the society. In this frozen state, progression is not made as resources are swallowed by the war, and those proving to be possibly dangerous are vaporized by the Thought Police. Without an opposition, the Inner Party members will forever reign.

By maintaining a functional level of inequality, Oceania fosters a stable balance among its three social classes. “If human equality is to be for ever averted – if the High, as we have called them, are to keep their places permanently – then the prevailing mental condition must be controlled insanity.” Society will forever run in this manner, and the social classes of George Orwell’s fictional world will continuously live as present, progress halted, inequality fresh, and control, a scar of the Inner Party.