Brainwashed by Big Brother
“Power is in tearing human minds to pieces and putting them together again in new shapes of your own choosing.” -George Orwell, 1984
In both the novel and the play adaptation of 1984, we see some hefty brainwashing by Big Brother. Studies after the Korean War revealed 10 basic steps of brainwashing. Can you spot them all when you see the play?
Step 1 - Identity Assault
You are not what you think you are. The agent constantly negates your sense of self.
Step 2 - Guilt
You are bad. The agent works to instill shame in every deed: past and present, big and small.
Step 3 - Betrayal
Agree with me that you've done wrong. The agent forces you to denounce those you identify with.
Step 4 - Breaking
A nervous breakdown. Physical & emotional exhaustion prime you to lose yourself and accept new beliefs.
Step 5 - Kindness
Let me help you. The agent gives some reprieve or leniency, creating deep relief and gratitude.
Step 6 - Confession
Save yourself from this. The agent may offer confession as a way to relieve the pain and guilt.
Step 7 - Blaming Beliefs
Your former beliefs are at fault. The agent sets up a contrast between the old (pain) and the new (relief).
Step 8 - Letting Go
It's not my fault, it's my beliefs. The agent reinforces that you are not to blame, and letting go will save you.
Step 9 - A New Offer
Your fate is in your hands. The agent introduces the new belief system as the path to salvation.
Step 10 - Rebirth
I choose the path without pain. The agent conducts rituals, ceremonies, or inductions to solidify the new belief.
“If you can feel that staying human is worthwhile, even when it can't have any result whatever, you've beaten them.” -George Orwell, 1984
At the heart of Michael Gene Sullivan's adaptation of 1984 is a love story. Winston and Julia’s relationship is at the root of their rebellion against Big Brother.
Michael Gene Sullivan's play adaptation reveals a kernel of hope, which is distinctly lacking in the source text. Winston’s humanity “infects” the Party members, particularly the two who play him and Julia. It’s a moving and optimistic split from the tone of Orwell's original book.
Where Do You Stand?
Can love conquer all?
Designate one side of the room as “agree”, one side as “disagree”, and reserve the middle for “absolutely undecided.”
Move to the side of the room that reflects your views on the phrase, “Love conquers all.”
Share your reasoning on your stance.
If someone changes your mind, move to a new view.