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Alienation From Fact, Truth And Reality In Novels And Films

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The concept of alienation is represented in George Orwell’s novel, ‘1984’, and Stanley Kubrick’s film, ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’, as higher powers conceal the truth from the ordinary, lower class people. These two texts are interconnected by their depictions and perspectives of this reoccurring concept of alienation from fact, truth and reality. The Council and Mission Control (2001: A Space Odyssey), as well as The Party and Big Brother (1984) hide the truth from the citizens, as it allows for mind control and manipulation from the ordinary citizens, for the pure purpose of gaining total power and control.

Alienation from fact, truth and reality is clearly demonstrated in Kubrick’s film, ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’ as the higher powers, The Council and Mission Control, place more reliance on and trust in the new super computer Hal than on the actual astronauts conducting the Jupiter mission. The Council, similar to The Party in ‘1984’, only broadcast information as they see fit or appropriate; this begins when the Monolith was first discovered at the Clavius Lunar Base. A meeting took place at this base where Floyd Heywood accepted the need to create the false story that an epidemic had broken out at the Clavius Base, explaining why all outside contact was removed. This false story would cause much concerns with families back on Earth, but concealing the discovery of the Monolith was the main priority. By including this first scene of ‘fake news’, Kubrick alienates the people on Earth from knowing the truth about activities at Clavius. Then in 2001, five astronauts, and super computer HAL 9000, set off on a space mission to Jupiter, unaware of the actual reason of the mission. During news broadcasts on Earth about the Jupiter mission, there is a seven minute delay, making it convenient to edit out the reality of deep space travel, where astronauts are isolated and alienated from each other and the truth. Mission Control not only alienates people of Earth from the truth and reality, they also conceal the true purpose of the Jupiter mission, as astronauts aboard the Jupiter mission are not made aware of the Monolith’s transition from the Tycho Crater to Jupiter. Dave Bowman only discovers this when deactivating HAL, who knew the full parameters of the mission, releases an unseen video that wasn’t supposed to be viewed until their arrival on Jupiter. These forms of deception represent alienation from fact, truth and reality in the film as they feed people on Earth, as well as the astronauts, fake news and a false sense of reality.

In ‘1984’, the citizens of Oceania are alienated from not only just facts and the truth, but the idea that truth even exists within their society, becoming a recurring theme throughout the novel. This ‘truth’ and a sense of ‘reality’ can be fabricated and manipulated by workers in the Ministry of Truth. Orwell demonstrates the use of irony in the names of the four ministries of Ingsoc, as the functions of each ministry are the exact opposite to their names. For example, the Ministry of Truth distributes fake news and alters history to ensure the past aligns with The Party’s current views, and the Ministry of Plenty also assists in lying to the public as it controls the flow of goods to create an artificial scarcity among the people; this is The Party’s primary technique in order to control and diminish the psychological independence of citizens, as well as alienating them. Orwell uses irony to reinforce the idea of a totalitarian state, positioning readers to fear living in a state similar to the fictional Oceania. The Party slogan is repeated twice in the novel, on pages 40 and 284, stating that “Who controls the past controls the future: who controls the present controls the past”. By having control over the present, The Party is able to influence the past towards their liking, and with this control over the past, ensures control over the future. The Party used and created the past to be a time of misery and slavery, therefore allowing them to claim they saved the human race from this time, justifying the future goals being set, and encouraging people to work towards The Party’s goals. “And when memory failed and written records were falsified—when that happened, the claim of The Party to have improved the conditions of human life had got to be accepted, because there did not exist, and never again could exist, any standard against which it could be tested” (p. 107). Winston experienced a frustrating conversation about life before The Revolution with an older man. He then realises that The Party has deliberately intended to weaken the memories of people, making them unable to challenge The Party’s claims surrounding present decisions. The Party uses their rewritten and altered history records to prove its good deeds to the public. By changing and altering history, The Party alienates the citizens of Oceania from any sense of a reality, or truth.

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Another recurring theme reinforcing the concept of alienation from fact, truth and reality in Orwell’s novel, ‘1984’, is mind control, specifically though frequent changes in and the removal of languages. As The Party exerts control over the human language, they also exert control over human thought. Orwell deletes the former language of Oceania, ‘Oldspeak’, by creating a new language, known as ‘Newspeak’, this deletion of words significantly reduces the range of human thought. Many of the ‘Newspeak’ words have mutually contradicting meanings, this is designed in order to confuse the population, thus allowing information and

intended meanings to be manipulated by the will of The Party. This integration of a new and limited language removes the idea that words have fixed meanings and perspectives of reality are continually being undermined, citizens are alienated from any sense of ‘reality’. Thoughtcrime is a person’s political and personal thoughts which are unapproved by The Party, and contradict those beliefs of Ingsoc, the ideology within Oceania. The main belief of Ingsoc is that no one has any form of control over any aspect of life in Oceania, as all power and control has been handed over to The Party. Winston has lunch with Syme, a member of The Party working on a copy of the Newspeak dictionary, who also explains to Winston the political goals of Newspeak. “‘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’” (p. 60). This reiterates The Party’s aim to gaining mind control. By constantly refining and adjusting Newspeak, no one will be capable of conceptualising anything that could question The Party’s outright power, or their beliefs; because even thinking in opposition of The Party is a punishable offence by the Thought Police or ‘Thinkpol’ in Newspeak terms.

It is evident that there are parallel ideas and characters in both George Orwell’s novel, ‘1984’, and Stanley Kubrick’s film, ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’, that alienate the lower class citizens from fact, truth and reality. The Council, in ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’, and The Party, in ‘1984’, are the same in the fact that they both broadcast information as they see appropriate for their own benefits of gaining more power and control. In ‘1984’, people are deprived of their rights as free citizens from The Party, where lies are embedded into minds and nothing is certain to be true or real. This extends to gaining control by re-writing and altering history, as well as thought control through the use of changing languages. And in ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’, HAL and The Council lie about the significance of missions and discoveries. This further reinforces the concept of alienation from fact, truth and reality in both texts.

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Alienation From Fact, Truth And Reality In Novels And Films. (2022, February 17). Edubirdie. Retrieved February 2, 2023, from
“Alienation From Fact, Truth And Reality In Novels And Films.” Edubirdie, 17 Feb. 2022,
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