Nineteen Eighty-Four: How to handle a quotation

An exemplar demonstrating one way of producing the analysis required in relation to any self-selected quotation from the text.

Syme, Language Specialist, Chapter 5:

‘We’re destroying words—scores of them, hundreds of them, every day. We’re cutting the language down to the bone. The eleventh edition won’t contain a single word that will become obsolete before the year 2050″

On the surface of it, Syme, whose job in the post-apocalyptic totalitarian state of Oceania, in the Ministry of Truth (minitrue) is to modify the official language, creating a new linguistic form called “Newspeak”, appears to be a zealot for his work – he is passionate about what he’s doing and unquestionably in support of its principles, which he describes as:

“Don’t you see that the whole aim of Newspeak is to narrow the range of thought? In the end we shall make thoughtcrime literally impossible, because there will be no words in which to express it.”

However Orwell has him, as he does so many others in Airstrip One, betray himself. The very words he is using to describe the intentions of Newspeak are in conflict with the purpose of Newspeak. When describing the paring down of the language to its barest fundamentals, he in fact uses a metaphor, cutting the language down to the bone”. This use of figurative language, while visceral in its intent, relating the process of language reduction to the slaughtering and processing of animals for food, is in breach of the code of simplicity and directness that Newspeak claims to uphold.

It is this very passion that the Party wishes to quell in its citizens, and Winston is aware of this,

“One of these days, thought Winston with sudden deep conviction, Syme will be vaporized. He is too intelligent. He sees too clearly and speaks too plainly. The Party does not like such people. One day he will disappear. It is written in his face.”

Posted by Christopher Waugh

“Risk! Risk anything! Care no more for the opinions of others, for those voices. Do the hardest thing on earth for you. Act for yourself. Face the truth.” (Katherine Mansfield)

  1. […] (or add your own) and write a supporting analysis that contains at least two quotations each. Use this model to support the construction of these analytical […]


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