Argumentative Essay Sample on 1984 Movie
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People tend to underestimate the role and meanings of movies. They think that films are there simply for entertainment while movies can actually carry important messages and bring interesting topics up. For example, there is a movie “1984” based on the famous novel of the same name which reveals many important sociological aspects. Thanks to the film, readers understand that a person is a product of its society that tries to influence it in political and economic way, and the person tries to rebel using his or her cultural and personal capacities; the movie also shows how a person can be broken by the mass influence and manipulation.
The movie speaks about Winston Smith, history rewriter/censor working in the Ministry of Truth in dystopian state called Oceania. The world is divided between three states including Oceania, Eurasia and Eastasia. These three superstates rule the world and are in constant conflict with each other. For example, there are times when Oceania allies Eastasia against Eurasia, and there are times when it cooperates with Eurasia and fights Eastasia. People in Oceania are divided into three classes. The first and the main one includes people who are Inner Party members and belong to the highest - inner - circle that rules the state. They contain only 2% of the population. There is another class that is lower than the first one and serves as bureaucracy. People in this class are Outer Party members meaning that they are still members of the ruling party, but they have nothing to do with making decisions and ruling the state.
The rest of the superstate consists of Proles. They are workers with no education and little understanding of the world they are living in. People in the country are being watched constantly. They all are victims of ideology, and they have lost their unique personalities. Winston Smith as a member of Outer Party analyzes his life and the state in which people are being dumb and mindless and believing everything Big Brother - the main ruler of Oceania – tells them. Winston Smith works as a censor, but he censors news that has already been published. This way, it is possible to keep the country in the state of constant war, and people do not pay attention to ridiculous change of allies and enemies. Winston Smith falls in love with young Julia who is also the Outer Party member, but hates it and is able to resist. Although they hide their love, Inner Party learns about it and torture’s lovers until they both break and tell on each other. In the end, they are no longer themselves, and they cannot and do not want to restart their relationship.
The movie reveals many important sociological concepts. For example, it is interesting to analyze it through Georg Simmel’s ideas of social geometry. Simmer spoke about dyad and triad as forms of groups. According to him, dyad allows each individual to remain oneself because he or she can express one’s ideas clearly and defend them while communicating with another party. Dyad allows building independent relations. Triad consists of three people who may lead to inequality because two may unite against one. The movie represents great examples of dyad and triad. Dyad is the communication/relations between Winston and Julia. As a member of an Outer Party, Winston is unable to express his ideas freely on public. He has to act as everybody else avoiding being viewed as a threat. Nevertheless, after Winston learned that Julia could be trusted, he started honest communication with her. In their dyad, he was able to express his real thoughts and ideas about society, and Julia accepted them with respect. She, too, was able to express her ideas freely. In their dyad, one can see an open form of communication when two unfree people are finally able to express their actual thoughts without hiding and feeling social pressure.
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Hence, dyad in this case represents idyllic form of communication because both people are able to be true to themselves and finally open up. To them, this dyad was an only way to avoid absolute social pressure based on ideology and mindlessness. Triad, on the other hand, ruined this idyll. When speaking about triad, one speaks about tortures O’Brien, member of Inner Party, used on Julia and Winston. He set Winston against Julia by using his greatest phobia, and that was the reason Winston broke mentally. Hence, triad was dominated by O’Brien, and that led to changes within the personalities of Julia and Winston who could no longer remain themselves and betrayed each other. Simmel’s concept of triad and dyad as the main forms of human communication applies to the main characters in the movie. As long as they are two, they are able to keep the little independence they have left, but when there are three of them, they fail before the stronger party.
The movie also represents the connection between culture, social class and personality presented by Max Weber. He believed that a person’s religion and culture influenced his or her personal standing in society. For example, Weber believed that a religion contains cultural code affecting the person’s position. His stratification theory is also very important for this movie analysis. One can take Winston Smith as an example. Although he is a part of Outer Party, he does not act like others. He is able to think against the ideology. One believes that Winston acted the way he did because of certain spiritual motivations that guided him and allowed resisting the existing pressure. With this example, one can see a connection between spirituality and social stance of a person that was described by Weber.
As Weber also divided classes such as social, status, and political ones, the movie shows that these classes were combined into one. For example, the Inner Party became an upper class. Hence, from a political class, it transformed into social and status one. The same applies to Outer Party and Proles. For example, Inner Party members were not chosen by their economic stances, but on the contrary, thanks to their personal and spiritual characteristics (or their absence). That is why Weber’s model suits the movie showing that a social class was determined by personal traits, and religion, spirituality, and culture carried important factors for it.
Nevertheless, Marx would contradict such an approach because he held other ideas concerning society and classes. He believed that societies were doomed to remain unequal as long as there were rich and poor people. Marx stated that rich were the ones always using the poor for their own financial advantages. Hence, it is impossible to speak about equality and freedom as long as capitalism exists. Interestingly, the world in “1984” looks like something that took Marx’s advice into consideration. It definitely does not have capitalism because there is no free trade, and everything is being controlled by the state. Hence, as there is no capitalism, it would be expected for people to be equal and free. Nevertheless, in this case, it may be seen that historical materialism of Marx does not stand up to any criticism.
The movie portrayed society Marx considered being perfect, but this society turned out to be opposite to perfection. Instead of having all people equal as united social class, the general population is being ruled by a small group of people. Hence, unlike capitalism that allowed people to be the ones determining their own fate, society Marx spoke about turned out to be dystopian world in the movie with no freedom. Nevertheless, Marx’s ideas about certain things determining social class still match the movie’s idea. Marx believed that money determined the person’s social standing. Although it is not about the money in “1984”, it is still about power and influence. Social class in the movie is being dictated by the influence different social classes have. Thus, those with the greatest influence rule those with the greatest loyalty.
From this perspective, one can say that social class is very important in the movie because it determines everything the person is. It influences his or her job, relations and even way of thinking. Both Weber and Marx contributed to understanding of social class within a movie. Weber’s ideas showed that the only way for a person to rebel against the pressure was through his or her personal capacities that were contained in his or her personal and cultural characteristics. Marx helped to understand that society was pressuring a single individual in various ways using economic and political factors as well as forming specific norms and classes. Thanks to Simmer, one also understood the process during which a person loses oneself and falls under manipulation becoming a nameless member of the mass.
Thus, the movie “1984” presents many important ideas about society and a person within it. It shows that there are many important factors indicating the person’s development and position within society. It also shows the influence society has on a single individual trying to break free from its ideology and blind devotion to crazy ideas. Society can be easily manipulated and used as a tool by a small amount of rulers who may use it in order to turn a thinking individual into a mindless zombie. Hence, sociological concepts allow understanding the way in which such a society functions as well as realizes the necessity to avoid ever building such a society.