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Slaughterhouse Five and 1984 - Essay Example

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Summary
Introduction
The 20th century witnessed tremendous political, cultural, and philosophical upheaval. Even as the century experienced tremendous complexity and social change, perhaps the most distinguishing factor was existence before and after World War II…
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Slaughterhouse Five and 1984

Download file to see previous pages... This war not only drastically changed the geo-political landscape, but had ramifications that ran deeply into artistic and philosophical paradigms. While published directly after the War, George Orwell’s 1984 is a strongly modernist text. In this work Orwell presents a political satire set in the future context of Oceania. This city has given way to extreme an extreme collectivist and totalitarian regime known simply as The Party. Within this context of understanding Orwell presents a significant perspective on the nature of the human condition, warning future generations about potential threats to human existence. Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse Five is firmly rooted in modes of post-modern expression. This work follows protagonist Billy Pilgrim through a variety of wartime narrative explorations. Ultimately this novel’s depiction of the human experience is profoundly unsettling and destabilizing. Even as these texts demonstrate many contrasting concerns, at their core they both explore the essence of the human condition. This essay compares and contrasts Orwell’s 1984 and Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse Five in terms of their portrayal of what it means to be human and what the respective novels offer as the major threats to the humanity of humans.
Analysis
The exploration of the human condition and threats to humanity form the backbone of thematic explorations in George Orwell’s 1984....
In these regards, Orwell notes, The Ministry of Truth, which concerned itself with news, entertainment, education, and the fine arts. The Ministry of Peace, which concerned itself with war. The Ministry of Love, which maintained law and order. And the Ministry of Plenty, which was responsible for economic affairs. Their names, in Newspeak: Minitrue, Minipax, Miniluv, and Miniplenty (Orwell, pg. 3). Here, Orwell plays on both the nature of language and satire in his consideration of modes of government. Consider the cyclical recurrence of The Party’s slogan, “WAR IS PEACE/ FREEDOM IS SLAVERY/ IGNORANCE IS STRENGTH” (Orwell, pg. 1). In addition to further establishing the political message of the oppressive government apparatus, Orwell’s implementation of this mode of propaganda speaks to one of the fundamental threats to humanity existing in the linguistic realm. In these regards, The Party slogan where traditional words that were associated with virtuous practices, such as peace, freedom, and strength, are replaced with words that have traditionally been associated with negativity – war, slavery, and strength. This aspect of the novel, which is also exemplified in the naming of the government institutions as well as in a variety of other incarnations including Newspeak is significant in that it shows one of the fundamental aspects of the human condition is humanity’s access to reality through language. As these certain elements in language have become traditionally associated with positive values, a prominent threat to humanity becomes the potential of the government or political interests to co-opt these modes of language for their own political aims. The prominence of language to the human condition is further expressed ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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