Nineteen Eighty four

I’d like to know other people’s opinion regarding an issue in George Orwell’s book nineteen eighty four. Regarding Smith’s “torture” Personally I don’t see that he was suffering any actual physical pain. I got the impression that any of the “physical pain” that he felt was just coming from mental torture and brainwashing. What does everyone say to that?

They were able to reach in and pull out his teeth by hand at the end of it. THAT sounds like more than mental abuse alone, especially when you read the description of himself in the mirror. At the very least he was starved and beaten (he describes being physically beaten, IIRC). I’m sure they did more to him. Even the threat of rats isn’t enough to mess you up that bad by psychology alone.

I was pretty sure he was physically tortured. Certianly he was beaten reasonably often, even if not ‘tortured’ as such.

He did have quite a bit of voltage running through him at one point…

“Without any warning, except a slight movement of O’Brien’s hand, a wave of pain flooded his body… his body was being wrenched out of shape, the joints were being slowly torn apart… the worst of all was the fear that his backbone was about to snap… O’Brien drew back the lever on the dial. The wave of pain receded almost as quickly as it had come. ‘That was forty,’ said O’Brien. ‘You can see the numbers run up to a hundred.’”

Things like this, plus regular beatings that broke off teeth, lack of food and sleep, convinced Smith that his fate was hopeless. At that point less physical punishment was needed, but it continued to be used whenever Smith wasn’t making enough “progress”.

Always reminded me of the torture machine in The Princess Bride personally.

  • Beatings: Punches, Truncheons and Kicking of the shins with iron-toed boots

  • Pain inflicted by O’Brien by turning a dial.
    (have you seen ST:TNG episode Chain Of Command Pt2?)

  • Electrocution

since the OP has been answered and since i have all of your attention, this is my hijack:

during my childhood in the 1980s, especially as 1984 rolled around, i heard mainstream pundits, critics, newscasters refer to the book as a critique on Communism and the Soviet system.

is there any evidence to back up this claim?

i always thought the book spoke about power structures in general and it reads as a wonderful attack upon American society from my point of view.

did Orwell ever say that the book was targeted at Stalin? or were those statements i heard just baseless propoganda efforts?

hapaXL, 1984 was written in the late '40s and reflects Orwell’s fear of any totalitarian political structure. He based his book not only on Stalinism, but also the Fascism of Hitler and Mussolini and genuinely feared for the future of democratic institutions.

On the other hand, Animal Farm was intended as an allegory dealing with the Russian October Revolution. Lenin, Trotsky, Stalin et. al. each have specific analogues in the various barnyard animals.

I remember a special that came out at the time hosted by Walter Cronkite where in one segment, they created a poster of Big Brother by combining the facial features of Hitler, Stalin, Mao, etc. Kinda cool.


Actually, it’s sort of interesting that Lenin doesn’t really have a porcine analogue in Animal Farm.