George Orwell depicts a grim future for society and the government’s control in 1984. Big Brother, the story’s main antagonist, is the controlling government that uses its influence through language and communication to control the world of Winston Smith. Though this fictitious world shows Big Brother and the Party using language to control the people, the same can be seen in our society today. People’s use of rhetoric and persuasive diction to influence the society can be seen through a powerful speech to influence the country, or a speech to create or strengthen unity.
Big Brother’s manipulation to control the society can be seen through the 2 Minutes Hate, in which the people listen to claims from a man known as Emmanuel Goldstein to entice them into the perception of abhorrence and loathing of ideas that go against The Party. “The horrible thing about the Two Minutes Hate was not that one was obliged to act a part, but, on the contrary, that it was impossible to avoid joining in.” Along with the atmosphere altering his mindset through mob mentality, Winston Smith is influenced to listen along with all the other Party members and through this influence. With this certain influence, the party is able to direct their hate towards another location, which in turn helps strengthen the Party member’s belief in the party. “He gazed up at the enormous face. Forty years it had taken him to learn what kind of smile was hidden beneath the dark moustache. O cruel, needless misunderstanding!” Big Brother is again seen as being loved in the eyes of Winston. Winston being broken down by the power of the Ministry of Love and being taught to love Big Brother puts him in a situation to where he would accept anything from Big Brother or The Party, and for inspiring words from Big Brother to be seen as victory is declared over a battle encapsulates Winston, and many other Party Members. Big Brother has already won the people they control, but can the same influence be seen in our society with the politicians we elect?
Following the 9/11 attacks, George W. Bush issued a statement to the Nation, in which he addressed the terrorist threat and was able to purpose it to help his public image. “The pictures of airplanes flying into buildings, fires burning, huge — huge structures collapsing have filled us with disbelief, terrible sadness, and a quiet, unyielding anger.” Bush uses a description of the event to elicit a feeling of anger within the nation, and outright speaks about the anger and tension building in the country. Him utilizing the emotions of the people in their melancholy state allowed him to unite them and was able to use the peoples emotion as motivation to further increase US support in Iraq and Afghanistan, as it was previously stigmatized by previous experiences with the Vietnam War. “Terrorist attacks can shake the foundations of our biggest buildings, but they cannot touch the foundation of America.” Focusing on the idea that America cannot be shaken by the effects of the attacks constructs the idea that the country is stronger and supplies the people with a sense of hope. In turn Bush was able to turn away the tension and rumors around his electoral victory and ensure the people that he was a good leader to lead the nation as President. His speech gave the listeners the sense of being heard in the midst of a national crisis, and the impression of security. George W. Bush used the sense of American nationalism and elicit an idea of strength, similar to Big Brother and the hate for Emmanuel Goldstein, and push for the fight against Terrorism.
In the 2004 Democratic National Convention, Illinois Senator Candidate Barack Hussein Obama spoke for the Keynote Speech… “We have real enemies in the world. These enemies must be found. They must be pursued. And they must be defeated.” Obama mentions the idea of being united against a common enemy rather than argue against each other. This parallels the idea of Big Brother with Emmanuel Goldstein, as it makes Big Brother look exceptional while composing the perception of corruption and malice with Goldstein. The diction with the word must provides a feeling of urgency, and with the 9/11 terrorist attacks happening just 3 years prior, the idea of call to action and unity against the common enemy was still relevant from former President George W. Bush. “There’s not a black America and white America and Latino America and Asian America; there’s the United States of America.” With race issues following America throughout all of history, Obama’s mentioning of the issue brings light to a topic to further unite the people beyond political differences. The word repetition with the word America also brings emphasis on the idea of unity and strength hidden within the nation.
Obama, Barack Hussein. “Democratic National Convention Keynote Speech.” The Washington Post, WP Company, 27 July 2004, www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A19751-2004Jul27.html?noredirect=on.
Bush, George W. “9/11 Address To The Nation.” Top 100 Speeches of the 20th Century – American Rhetoric, 11 Sept. 2001, www.americanrhetoric.com/speeches/gwbush911addresstothenation.htm.
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