Language as an oppressive device in Orwell’s 1984

Bakhtiar Sabir Hama


This paper is a critical study of “1984”, a novel by George Orwell. It specifically aims to study how language is used by the dominant authority in the fiction to oppress and to exert power over the population in the country. The analysis focuses on how the totalitarian system limits conversations and prevents freedom of speech through imposing on the characters to speak a language which is strange to them and very limited in terms of vocabulary. To achieve this objective, the study will focus on the sentences and paragraphs which show how language is used to frighten and oppress people. In certain cases, the dialogues which occur between the characters will be explored so as to clearly manifest the role of language in controlling the actions and the minds of the population.


To manifest the relationship between language and power, the analysis is conducted within the framework of stylistics and critical discourse analysis. The researcher explores the linguistic features in some paragraphs and dialogues selected from the entire text so as to show how the government of Oceania controls the minds and actions of its inhabitants. Through such a framework of analysis, the thesis concludes that the totalitarian government manipulates language to dominate people, and language is not a social practice but it has political dimensions and regarded as a threat to the government if people can use it freely.



1984, stylistics, critical discourse analysis, language, power.

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