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Cultish Crisis in Dystopias: A Close Reading of 1984 by George Orwell

 


Cultish Crisis in Dystopias: A Close Reading of 1984 by George       Orwell

Avanika Verma

Sharda University

Greater Noida, Uttar Pradesh, India

&

Dr. Prachi Priyanka

Sharda University

Greater Noida, Uttar Pradesh, India

 

 

Abstract:

 

The 20th century witnessed a rise in the dystopian genre. Dystopias incorporate a list of features like a decline in society, an oppressive and controlling environment (usually created by a government or social group) and a constant state of fear and distress among the people. Another social group that reflects the same qualities as that of a dystopian society is a cult. “1984” by George Orwell is set in a totalitarian society that impacted the readers in a way that the work is relevant and unforgettable even 74 years after it was published. This paper delves deeper into the work in pursuit of identifying various instances from the plot that resonate with a cult-like milieu. With a special focus on the protagonist, Winston Smith, it analyzes how cults have special effects on individuals under their influence. This paper mainly explores the identity crisis that the protagonist undergoes while being in a socio-political crisis parallelising it to what a cult member encounters. Mentions of environmental crisis have also been made in the paper. Similarities between Plato’s Republic and the actions of the government in terms of manipulation of the truth and information are drawn in this paper. It also discusses the multifaceted nature of freedom and surveillance as demonstrated in the narrative with the help of theories. Moreover, this paper puts forth brief notations of an existentialist point of view concerning the events endured by Winston Smith.

 

Keywords: Dystopia, Cult, Crisis, Totalitarianism, Identity, Existentialism

 

1.  Introduction

 

Dystopia is a genre of fiction which consists of a plotline of events that are not in line with the interests and favours of the protagonist. It comes from the word “dys'' meaning bad, ill or impaired. It is the root word of dysfunctional hence referring to the same in meaning. The second part of the word refers to the other form of a literary genre called utopia which means the plotline of the fictional work involves all events to be in favor of the protagonist or the storyline. There are no conflicts as opposed to dystopias which are ridden with plot, character and theme conflicts as well. Other characteristics of a dystopian work include an authority figure or group of authority figures that exercise absolute power over the other group(s) usually from which the protagonist belongs and tells the story. Gregory Claeys states in his essay that the term dystopia occurred long before the genre's rise in the 20th century when it was used by John Stuart Mill in a parliamentary debate of 1867. Some believe that the genre saw a brief rise in and around the Victorian era with the works of Anne Radcliffe and HG Wells. Although the popularity of the genre is credited to the socio-political climate of post-war pessimism, imagining what the future held in store wasn't a big task after seeing the worst possible outcomes depicted by humankind at the time. Anxieties and political awareness among the youth regarding social distress and the future decline of society led to the popularization of this gene at the time. In Tom Moylan’s terms, dystopias were, “largely the product of the terrors of the twentieth century”. It also calls for a critical examination of the enduring power relationships that exist in many communities. In this sense, dystopian literature serves as a useful prism through which we might view the social systems in our society (Moylan 2000). This genre of work is categorically set in a totalitarian society where the regime overpowers everyone else in society. Totalitarian governments are those that have complete control over every element of the lives of their subjects. People do not have any freedom under this government. The people are oppressed by the totalitarian system, and even their basic rights are taken away. It appears that the governmental system is autocratic and oppressive. This administration employs religious traditions to keep people in check. It is therefore regarded as a dystopian society. Individuals lack independence, rights in the community, and even rights within their own lives. The government makes decisions about people's lives. The regulations and statutes formulated by this political structure are brutal. People have to abide by the guidelines. Anyone who disagrees faces severe penalties or death. Examples of totalitarian regimes are the Nazi regime of Adolf Hitler in Germany (1933–1945), the Soviet Union under Joseph Stalin (1924–1953), and the contemporary totalitarian state that Kim Jong-un rules over North Korea. This type of living condition also leads to further forms of destruction caused by technological advancements for excessive control. There is an ongoing political crisis due to the existing oligarchy and totalitarian government. In addition to that, there is a social and interpersonal crisis as well as an environmental one. Totalitarianism as a way of society sabotages the very life of every individual who falls victim to it. Ridding them of their individuality and relationships as well as personal autonomy and basic rights. This leaves each citizen in a frozen state taking away their ability to engage in creativity and innovation. The citizens are not left with unique thinking or influence from the common ‘normal’ which in turn works in the ruler's favour by avoiding any revolutionary or oppositional thought.

 

The proposition where the individuals are stripped of their personal and independent selves along with isolating them from society by exposing them to a communal ideology is frequently repeated through another social institution- a cult. Although there is no textbook definition of a cult it can be regarded as a religion which is unorthodox or spurious. It is a small religious sect whose doctrine and methods seem odd or hazardous to an outsider. The earliest usage of the term describes it as being a place of homage for a saint or deity, for example, the ‘cult of Mary’ for Christ. up until the 19th century, cults were not necessarily a religious group but simply devotion to a person, idea, object or belief. Then paradoxes arose and it began being associated with any religious group other than Christianity, forever changing the connotations of the word. Ernst Troeltsch (1931) talked about a developing trend in German religiosity that avoided established religious institutions and placed a focus on a form of "radical religious individualism" of personal experience. It is quite challenging to draw any conclusions applying to a newly formed cult. The majority of recently formed religious movements have relatively small devoted memberships—often in just dozens rather than thousands. These groups appeal to many demographics, have a wide range of ideas and practices, and interact with society in different ways. Many are separating themselves from Christian dogma, while others incorporate elements of multiple world religions. Certain groups that could be classified as "cults" may not identify as religious at all; instead, they may have their roots in meditation, humanism and psychology. While some recruit mostly through in-person contacts, others largely use the Internet. (Newcomb, 2014). These social institutions usually have charismatic leaders who persuade and sweet-talk certain members of society into following their ideologies. The cycle of recruitment begins as each member starts adding their family and friends as well as other relationships into the community. They are then strategically separated from the outside world by creating great distinctions between members and non-members. This makes the individual detach from society completely surrender themself to the group and look at every non-member as an ideological threat.

 

Unfortunately, the expanse of these groups is not limited to meditational practices and communal living. Many dangerous acts have been previously performed by various cults which posed a threat to society thereafter. For example, the release of toxic gas by Aum Shinrikyo on the Tokyo underground in 1995 and the Manson Family murder sprees. The leaders of such groups perform intense manipulative speeches regularly that tend to alter the usual thinking of the people. They start perceiving their leader as a god-like figure and blindly listen and follow through on his demands. There is also the aspect of the leader being their supporter or savior of the members who were rejected by society and found shelter under the cult hence making them more vulnerable to being victims of puppeteering. Not all cults have had histories of violence but the ones that did, have attributed to the negativity attached to the word itself. The International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON/Hare Krishnas) and the Children of God are peaceful and religious “cults” of sorts with no previous histories of causing problems to other members of society.

 

The one noticeable commonality between dystopias and cults, which is central to this paper, is the loss of personal identity that is experienced by the subjects under both systems. In dystopias when the government exercises excessive control over its citizens it takes away from them their central point of being, their rights of thought and speech on the cost of providing them food shelter and safety from the false war pretence usually created to sustain the reign of terror among them. They usually have one central member at the root of the ruling body, one who is charismatic and manipulative enough to talk the citizens into following through with his/her ideologies. Whether it is through restrictive language, forceful supervision and security as well as a doctrine of rules every person has to follow, the individual is blended into the society like a sheep in the herd. A similar principle is followed by cults. A participant enters and they are introduced to the leader who everyone follows and it gives them a sense of naturally following them as well. And gradually they are subjected to various ways of living that they are now expected to adapt, and they do so under the influence of manipulation. A cult member is usually told how they stand separate from the general world's viewpoint and encouraged to adopt this new lifestyle of betterment, promising them support and company, something they tend to lack.

 

This paper further dives into the peculiarities and instances where in the novel 1984, the totalitarian regime measures are comparable to those of a cult-like organization.

 

         Objectives

 

This paper aims to discuss the characteristics of a dystopia and a cult separately along with drawing simultaneous comparisons. It views the events of the novel from the lens of a cult-like organisation and its functioning. Exploring the concept of crisis through the socio-political conditions of the setting in the novel 1984 the paper analyses the protagonist’s struggles in a crisis setting. The scholar also evaluates the causes behind the identity crisis that is encountered by the protagonist and its similarities with the same crisis experienced by a member of a cult.

 

         Literature review

 

The pivotal work “1984” by George Orwell has been read in-depth from an unabridged version keeping the innate details in mind. Background studies on the origins and development of each term through the means of concept-based informative books on topics like dystopia and cult have been read. The scholar has engaged with previous research papers that attempt to study similar objectives as this paper. Assorted books, book chapters, articles and journals (online and print) have been referred to under this study with cautiously paraphrased content as per the understanding of the scholar. Pre-existing literature on the topics of cults, language, dystopias, totalitarian societies and systematic oppression have been read through to come up with the ideas of research for this paper.

 

         Research Methodology

 

 

The forthcoming body of text performs an in-depth evaluation of the various events in George Orwell's exemplary work 1984. It talks about each event concerning its totalitarian features and then further relates it to those of a cult. Making comparisons will display to the reader how close a cult could be to an authoritarian ruler. This paper follows the analytical and descriptive methods of research. The study is qualitative. The process required reading the novel as well as exploration of the comments made by other critics on similar and/or neighbouring concerns through the medium of articles, journals and research papers. However, not all the material used is taken from a previous mention, often observations made by scholars based on media concerning similar ideas.

 

2.  Discussion

 

         Political conditions

 

The state of Oceania was living under the protection of the party. They preached the principle and propaganda of Ingsoc which is the abbreviation for English Socialism. Ironically, no actions performed by the party were in favour of the term. There is segregation within the government itself- the Inner party and the Outer party. The Inner party members are the ones who decide and frame the party's propaganda. This consists of the party’s leader and face known as Big Brother. As Winston describes him, Big Brother is a rigid-looking man with an extremely stern face. His face is the central image and the largest figure on the party’s posters that haunt the citizens on every corner of the street. They read the slogan of the party "War is Peace. Freedom is Slavery. Ignorance is Strength." This is done to create a feeling of terror in the people. Its presence serves as a dark cloud watching over everyone and their actions. According to Gottlieb, the dictatorship depicted in "1984" is characterized by the strategic use of terror—an intricate and systematic application of violence orchestrated by the Inner Party against its citizens, all in the purported name of socialist ideals (Gottlieb 79). There is also regular exposure to the propaganda that the people have to undergo as a way of reminding themselves about everything the party stands for.

 

The power of propaganda is evident at the beginning of the novel when the Inner Party claims that Oceania is at war with Eurasia. By keeping its citizens under the pretence of war, the Inner Party managed to convince them that they were safe as long as they did not question the authorities. When Winston reads Goldstein’s book, he learns that the age-old war is just a pretence. One can assume that the party did this to make its agenda sound more justifiable. The poor supply of food and basic amenities sounds more sensible if the citizens consider that their nation is in the adversities of war. Hence, the citizens did not complain and endured whatever crisis was thrown at them. Weiss talks about how in a crisis, however, it is common for people to surrender their freedom willingly to a government or other authority offering them security and freedom from uncertainty, danger, fear, hunger, etc.˝ Under this thought it can be noted that this act of surrender allowed the government to have further control over people through manipulation. Gottlieb elucidates the mechanism through which totalitarian regimes uphold their authority by cultivating fear within their populace. Following the post-war period in the 1950s, the world witnessed a division among three totalitarian dictatorships, each equipped with a formidable atom bomb, a capability only affordable to superpowers. The establishment of an enduring and unalterable balance among these three powers ostensibly laid the foundation for global peace. However, despite this equilibrium, each dictator has maintained a façade of perpetual war. This ongoing state of conflict serves as a pretext for the continuous subjugation of their respective populations—keeping them in a state of deprivation, overwork, and perpetual fear of the supposed diabolical adversary and traitor. Consequently, the population remains in a state of readiness to venerate the dictator as their saviour.

 

In a cult, there is a huge divide between the members based on when they were involved and what kind of roles they played in it. Sometimes it is also based on the duration that they have been a member. Simultaneously there is also a face of the cult, the leader who gives the propaganda speeches and is the savior or a messiah of sorts to the members. They preach and are extremely devoted to him/her. Many cults do not necessarily have slogans but they all have a central idea that they follow which is repeated by particular members/the leader in order to imprint it on the very being of the member. Just like in the society of Oceania a cult also has a slogan, a leader and a propaganda or doctrine it preaches. The leaders soon gain such influence on the members that the word of their mouth becomes absolute to followers. This can be used to a disadvantage easily. Often the members are fed with ideas of the cruelty of the outside world which in comparison makes their life of distress sound nothing like the fact itself. In turn, it allows the few in authority to control and influence the others easily. The leaders become the savers of the victims of society by shielding them from it and even urging them to take revenge.

 

Everyone in the state of Oceania is employed in the maintenance of it, either as the managerial staff, the security or the bureaucrats. The working population is divided into four ministries, each serving a specific function in maintaining the Party's control and enforcing its ideology. They are the Ministry of Truth (Minitrue), Ministry of Peace (Minipax), Ministry of Love (Miniluv) and Ministry of Plenty (Miniplenty). The protagonist Winston Smith works at Minitrue’s records department. Herein his job is to deal with the existing media in the form of news articles and erase the ones that deal with opposing the party's ideology. This also involves various clippings, notes and diaries from people who have dared to think about questionable matters. The government attempts to control citizens so that they cannot exist in any mindset other than the one that the party preaches. The motives behind the party's actions of information manipulation are to preserve data of their ideology even in newspapers of the past. Speeches given in public by any of the leaders are later edited in the newspapers so there is always the picture-perfect presentation of truth that aligns with the propaganda.

 

Isaiah Berlin in his essay Two Concepts of Liberty (1958) made distinctions between positive and negative liberty and started many conversations about the nature and worth of political freedom. Negative freedom, as Berlin describes it, is freedom from interference or coercion by others. In this sense, an individual is considered free to the extent that there are no external obstacles or constraints on their actions. It emphasizes the importance of limiting the power of the state to preserve individual autonomy. This absence of external constraints, according to Berlin, allows individuals to pursue their own goals and interests without interference. Positive freedom, on the other hand, is concerned with self-mastery and the idea that an individual is truly free when they act in accordance with their "higher," more rational self. Berlin notes that positive freedom involves self-realization and the pursuit of a person's true interests, even if it requires overcoming personal desires or impulses. This concept implies an internal constraint, where individuals are governed by reason or a higher moral purpose. Critics argue that positive freedom when taken to the extreme, can lead to paternalism or authoritarianism as individuals may be coerced in the name of promoting their "true" interests. He argues against the idea that positive freedom necessarily leads to a more just or desirable society, emphasizing the risks of concentrating power in the hands of those who claim to know what is in the best interest of individuals. These two dimensions of freedom are interconnected and often need to be balanced in practice. For instance, in a democratic society, individuals may have the "freedom to" express their political opinions, but they also require the "freedom from" government censorship or persecution for holding those opinions. Similarly, economic freedom (the "freedom to" pursue economic opportunities) is often linked to the absence of economic coercion or exploitation (the "freedom from" economic oppression). (Fromm, 1941).

 

Fromm argues that living under authoritarian rule can lead to a sense of powerlessness, as individuals may feel their agency diminished and their decisions dictated by external authorities. This loss of autonomy, coupled with the fear of consequences for deviating from prescribed norms, contributes to the psychological toll of living in an authoritarian society whether dystopian or cults. This notion of the "fear of freedom" can be seen in Winston's attempts to navigate the complexities of living in a society that suppresses individuality. The fear of punishment, torture, and erasure (being declared an "unperson") compels individuals to conform outwardly, even if their inner thoughts may rebel against the Party's ideology and the fear of being kicked out of the group that supports them scares cult members. Cult members may experience a profound psychological impact as they surrender their autonomy to the leader's authority. The fear of consequences for disobedience and the desire for belonging can lead individuals to conform to the cult's ideology, mirroring Fromm's concept of the fear of freedom. In cults, followers may sacrifice their freedoms in exchange for a perceived sense of security, belonging, or spiritual enlightenment promised by the leader. Conformity is often a key aspect, and deviation from the prescribed beliefs can result in social ostracism or other forms of punishment.

 

         Linguistic aspects

 

In A Dystopian Society in Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale, Jelena Živić says “The use of language as a means of oppression is common in most dystopian novels. The authors of such novels understand the importance of words, whether they are written or spoken. A dystopian discourse is often limited and oppressive. It denies its speakers the ability to express their emotions and desires adequately. Without this essential freedom of speech, the citizens of such societies are reshaped and redefined to fit the regime’s ideology.” The government uses language to create submissive citizens. In Newspeak, the language crafted by the regime, certain words have been omitted. And it is a forever-changing language where new rules and words keep getting added every month or so. Words like “Badthink” (unapproved or rebellious thoughts), “Doublethink” (the power of holding two contradictory beliefs in one's mind simultaneously and accepting both of them), “Thought crime” (thinking or speaking anything that goes against the Party's ideology) and “Unperson” (A person who the Party has vaporized, erased from existence) are some examples of limited vocabulary tactics. By speaking in a certain manner, the citizens become uniform. They lose their individuality, but more importantly, they lose the ability to form rebellious thoughts which could provoke them to fight against the regime.

 

The Inner Party created a new language which is meant to reinforce the regime‟s dominance. Newspeak is based on a simple principle: limiting and simplifying the vocabulary and grammar, and banishing all the words which could lead to heretical thinking. Newspeak vocabulary was so constructed as to give exact and often very subtle expression to every meaning that a Party member could properly wish to express, while excluding all other meanings and also the possibility of arriving at them by indirect methods (Orwell 377). Although Newspeak itself is based on the English language, contemporary speakers would hardly be able to understand it. It is divided into three distinct classes: the A vocabulary, the B vocabulary, and the C vocabulary. Each category refers to a different aspect: the individual's personal life, various compounds with subtilized meanings, or vocabulary consisting of scientific and technical words. The Inner Party manages to control its citizens by reducing their basic freedom – the freedom of speech. The regime presumes that if the individual's vocabulary is limited, their thoughts would be limited as well. “Cults use language to condition and coerce people, using techniques such as special buzzwords, misleading euphemisms, and thought-terminating cliches to manipulate and expand their influence.”(Montell, 2021). They utilize strategic vocabulary to differentiate between ‘us’ (members) and ‘those’ non-members. This creates a disparity in people's co-existence in society as well as separates them from the communal harmonious mind space making them singular and unsupported, easy to mold. Cults may instil irrational fears in their members, often through language, to create a phobia of leaving the group or questioning its beliefs. This fear can be used to maintain control and discourage critical thinking.

 

         Personal sufferings

 

In 1984, Orwell described that citizens of Oceania are not allowed to keep private possessions, such as photographs, documents or diaries. The main protagonist, Winston Smith, rebels against the totalitarian party by writing a personal diary. This small act of defiance helps him to regain control over his thoughts and see through the government’s imposed lies. Additionally, the citizens of Oceania are allowed to read only government-issued pamphlets, or news which have been censored to fit the official politics of the Party. Most characters did not remember anything about their lives before living in Oceania and its war state. This also makes Winston suspicious. Citizens aren't encouraged to get together socially in hopes that they might conspire against the government and put two and two thoughts together. The Party interferes in personal relationships, promoting loyalty to the Party over familial or romantic bonds. Children are encouraged to report their parents for thought crime, and love and loyalty are redirected toward Big Brother and the Party. Through intense indoctrination and re-education programs, individuals are pressured to abandon their personal beliefs and adopt the Party's ideology. This process involves breaking down the individual's sense of self and reconstructing it in alignment with Party principles. Members of a cult are also often re-educated with principles and doctrines of the cult and repeatedly emphasized like affirmations to make sure they are imprinted in the minds of each. Children born in cults are completely devoid of worldly education and this can cause severe harm to their psychosocial well-being.

 

Similar repression of sexual desire is present in the nightmarish society in which sex is perceived as a means of procreation. The Inner Party encourages its young members to join the Junior Anti-Sex League, which propagates chastity. The regime's teachings about sex are meant to create a frustrated society whose only outlet is hatred. The main protagonist, Winston Smith, admits that he hated his colleague because she was young and pretty and sexless. After all, he wanted to go to bed with her and would never do so (Orwell 20). His frustration is then channelled into hatred towards the regime’s current enemy. Eventually, Smith becomes involved in a forbidden sexual relationship with his young colleague Julia. She understands the regime’s sexual puritanism – it is the Party's way of controlling its citizens. When you make love you’re using up energy, and afterwards, you feel happy and don't give a damn for anything. They can't bear you to feel like that. They want you to be bursting with energy all the time. All this marching up and down and cheering and waving flags is simply sex gone sour. If you're happy inside yourself, why should you get excited about Big Brother and the Three-Year Plans and the Two Minutes Hate and all the rest of their bloody rot? (Orwell 167) Winston recalls his married life with his wife Katherine. She was completely under the influence of the regime's propaganda and viewed sex as her duty to the Party. Winston thought about sex with her as the frigid little ceremony˝ (Orwell 166). Katherine's only intention was to conceive. She has been entirely brainwashed into believing that the only purpose of sex is reproduction. They both see their relationship as a rebellion against the regime. However, in the end, the Inner Party manages to erase Smith's love and lust for Julia. The Inner Party's victory over Smith's basic physical needs and desires proves the regime's strength. Sex is used as a device in many cults and it is used to preach the beliefs of the group as well. Just like in Oceania, many other cults rely on sexual processes as a form of procreation only. They may also look at it from a perspective of being a way of adding more members to the ‘family’ which in turn results in robbing the people of pleasure within themselves and the right to exercise their primal need for sex. On the other hand, in some cults, sex is viewed as an over joyous act and it is performed in a celebratory manner in accordance with enjoying the ‘simple pleasures of life’s principle. Either way, sex plays an equally important role in a dystopian society or a cult as food and shelter do and refraining from all these causes grave effects on individuals.

 

         Surveillance and Monitoring

 

The government does not only have control over the physical being of the individuals but also their mental processes are completely governed by the party. This is done through the mandatory usage of newspeak, a language that is tailor-made by the party to avoid the emergence of any independent thoughts in the minds of the citizens and hence lead them into rebellion. The pervasive surveillance, facilitated by ubiquitous telescreens in every residence, subjects individuals to constant scrutiny. Consequently, the inhabitants of Oceania exist in a perpetual state of apprehension, fearing the consequences of being discovered engaging in activities disapproved of by the Party. Moreover, these telescreens serve as a tool for disseminating the official beliefs of the Inner Party. Citizens are unable to turn off or escape the influence of telescreens, as they are present in homes, public spaces, and workplaces. The constant exposure to Party messages and the potential for surveillance create an atmosphere of psychological control. The Thought Police are a law enforcement agency in "1984" that monitors and punishes citizens for any form of thoughtcrime, which is, unapproved thoughts against the Party. The fear of being caught by the Thought Police leads to self-censorship and conformity. The Thought Police represent the enforcement arm of the Party's control over thoughts and beliefs. Their mission is to identify and eliminate any form of dissent or unorthodox thinking. Citizens live in fear of being reported by friends or family members for expressing rebellious thoughts. The threat of Thought Police intervention creates a pervasive atmosphere of self-censorship, as individuals are afraid to even think critically about the Party or its doctrines. The use of microphones and cameras in private spaces, such as bedrooms and bathrooms, underscores the extreme invasion of privacy in the society depicted in "1984." The constant surveillance in intimate spaces not only strips individuals of personal privacy but also emphasizes the impossibility of any form of rebellion or dissent without detection. In combination, these elements create a dystopian reality where citizens are under constant scrutiny, both physically and mentally. The Party's control mechanisms extend beyond the traditional bounds of governance, permeating every aspect of individuals' lives. The result is a society characterized by fear, conformity, and a pervasive sense of helplessness among its citizens. Completely violating their sense of privacy the government expects the citizens to oblige to their irrational rules and regulations leading them into a state of duress that leaves them vulnerable and prone to being under the absolute control of the government.

 

This condition can be linked to Michel Foucault's panopticon theory in his influential work "Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison." The Panopticon is a concept and architectural design conceived by the English philosopher and social theorist Jeremy Bentham in the late 18th century. The idea of the Panopticon was later explored in depth by Foucault. The Panopticon is a type of institutional building designed to allow a single watchman to observe all inmates without the inmates being able to tell whether they are being watched. The architectural layout typically consists of a central observation tower surrounded by a circular building of prison cells. The cells have windows facing the central tower, but inmates cannot see into each other's cells. This design creates a perpetual state of uncertainty and visibility, fostering self-discipline among the prisoners. According to Foucault, the Panopticon represents a shift in societal mechanisms of power from sovereign power (exercised through force and punishment) to disciplinary power (exercised through surveillance, normalization, and self-regulation). The Panopticon has been widely discussed in the context of surveillance and control in contemporary society. The idea that individuals may modify their behaviour when they believe they are being watched has implications for various fields, including government surveillance, workplace dynamics, and the impact of technology on privacy. This theory applies to the condition of citizens in Oceania. The terror was so deep set in their brains that they existed in the fear of being caught, imprisoned, tortured and then possibly either executed or brainwashed into being a rat in the chase again. This positioned them in a circumstance of keeping each other in check constantly. The Panopticon operates on the principle of constant visibility. Inmates are aware that they could be under observation at any given time, creating a sense of uncertainty and promoting self-discipline. It relies on the internalization of discipline. Inmates regulate their behaviour out of the fear of being observed and the uncertainty of when observation might occur. Similar behaviours are exhibited by members of a dystopia and members of a cult. When under such authority people experience a loss of personal autonomy and privacy causing deep rooted impact on their psyche. Big Brother symbolizes the ultimate authority, much like the central observer in the Panopticon Tower. The omnipresent eyes of Big Brother create an environment where individuals feel watched at all times, similar to the Panopticon's design.

 

3.  Conclusion

 

To conclude this research a brief of all points covered will be presented. The absolute nature of the political party that governed Oceania vested terror among its citizens to make sure that they obliged to the ideologies of the government. Various forms of restrictions and security checks were employed on them to make sure once under the Party’s ideology, the people remained the same. The worship of Big Brother, where he is not just a political leader; he is an almost mythical figure. Citizens are required to express their love and loyalty to him through slogans like "Big Brother is Watching You." This kind of unquestioning devotion is a hallmark of cults of personality where the leader's image becomes synonymous with the state or organization. This practice is heavily followed in cult organizations where one leader becomes the face of the cult and the preacher or the saviour who operates it and takes all the big decisions. Their mere mention enthralls terror among their subjects, displaying the power that they hold. The Party controls the media and the historical record, altering facts and erasing events that don't conform to its ideology. This manipulation of truth is similar to how cult leaders often control the information that members have access to, creating a distorted reality that serves their interests. This concept mirrors the cognitive dissonance that can occur in cults when members are required to accept conflicting beliefs or rationalize the leader's actions. Citizens are not only punished for actions but even for having rebellious thoughts. This extreme level of control over an individual's inner life is akin to the thought control tactics used by cults to stifle independent thinking. The Party's manipulation of historical records and erasure of inconvenient truths is reminiscent of how cults may revise their history or suppress information that might challenge the legitimacy of the leader or the group's ideology. The Two Minutes Hate and other emotional displays are tools the Party uses to manipulate the emotions of citizens, fostering hatred and fear of the Party's enemies. Cults often use emotional manipulation to create a strong bond among members and to elicit extreme emotional reactions in rituals or ceremonies. The Two Minutes Hate and other rituals in the novel serve to reinforce citizens' loyalty to the Party through collective displays of devotion. Similarly, cults often have rituals, ceremonies, or group activities that reinforce the group's ideology and commitment to the leader. Newspeak is designed to limit the range of thought and eliminate words that could be used to express dissent. Cults may introduce their specialised language or terminology to control the way members think and communicate, making it difficult for them to express dissenting views. Both the Party and cults demand unquestioning obedience to authority figures. In cults, leaders are often seen as infallible, and questioning their decisions or actions is discouraged or punished.

 

Analyzing these parallels between the totalitarian regime in "1984" and cults of personality underscores how both entities seek to control the thoughts, emotions, and behaviours of individuals to maintain power and loyalty. It serves as a warning about the dangers of unchecked authority, manipulation of information, and the erosion of individual autonomy and freedom. While the term "identity crisis" is not explicitly used, the novel delves into how the Party systematically strips individuals of their identities, replacing them with a collective, conformist identity centred around loyalty to Big Brother. The citizens of Oceania are effectively stripped of their individuality and personal identities. They are reduced to mere cogs in the Party's machinery, where their names and individual lives are inconsequential. Winston Smith, the protagonist, represents the struggle against this loss of identity as he seeks to maintain his sense of self amid the Party's oppression. This pattern is avidly followed inside a cult as well where the individual might be a subject to alienation and loss of self just like one in a dystopian totalitarian society. The Party not only controls the present but also manipulates the past, erasing individuals' personal histories. Winston's job at the Ministry of Truth involves altering historical records to fit the Party's narrative, further disconnecting citizens from their personal histories and experiences. This erasure of personal history contributes to an identity crisis as people lose their connection to their pasts. Cutting the member's ties with society on the condition that either their family enters the cult or they cut them off is a common rule one needs to abide by when entering a cult sometimes. This makes them a standalone in society further alienating them from it and causing them to be prey to the animal of ideology against the others who lay outside the cult premises. The Party promotes a collective identity centred around loyalty to Big Brother. The concept of the "Party self" takes precedence over individual selves. Citizens are expected to internalize this collective identity and suppress their desires, beliefs, and emotions. Any deviation from this collective identity is considered thoughtcrime and is severely punished. Simultaneously, uniformity of behaviour and collective consciousness are the key ingredients of a fully functioning cult. Blending oneself into the whole of a group makes them lose their personality and autonomy as well as their personal beliefs and practices. This may be called a psychological or existential crisis as a whole when an individual is not aware of their own in society when put outside the bounds of a manipulative sub-group. An individual under such an organization does not have an agency of their own and disappears into a metaphorical room filled with people of the same name. The Party's manipulation of language through Newspeak and the concept of doublethink play a significant role in eroding individual identity. Doublethink requires citizens to simultaneously hold contradictory beliefs, which creates inner conflict and confusion. This inner turmoil contributes to an identity crisis, as individuals are forced to accept and internalize beliefs that they know to be false. Citizens in Oceania are taught to suppress their emotions, particularly negative ones like dissent, fear, or doubt. Emotional suppression leads to a suppression of one's true self. It contributes to an identity crisis as individuals are forced to conform to the emotionally controlled facade demanded by the Party. The Party discourages genuine human connections and relationships. Winston's relationship with Julia serves as a rebellion against this, but even it is ultimately corrupted and used against them. The lack of authentic relationships further contributes to a sense of isolation and identity crisis.

 

As Winston begins to question the Party's ideology and seeks to find his truth, he experiences an existential crisis. This crisis revolves around fundamental questions of identity, purpose, and the nature of truth. His journey represents a struggle to reclaim his identity in a world that seeks to erase it. This suppression of individuality, coupled with the manipulation of language, history, and emotions, creates a profound identity crisis for the citizens of Oceania. Winston's journey to resist this loss of self and seek his truth serves as a central theme in the novel, highlighting the importance of individual identity and autonomy in the face of oppressive regimes.

 

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