An introduction to the massive quantity of mental control used in this novel is when Winston is writing in his diary and it’s stated that, “whether he wrote DOWN WITH BIG BROTHER, or whether he from writing it, it made no difference… The Thought Police would get him just the same” (Orwell 19). Citizens in this society constantly have the threat of abduction hanging over their heads like a noose. If they fail to obey the “laws of thought” that are laid out in this controlling culture, the enforcers (Thought Police) path of punishment is seizing individuals in the dark of night. It is this fear of being taken and punished, and the underlying panic and caution to obey the unwritten laws of society that citizens are so eager to be controlled and have their characters molded to what the authorities see fit. Fear is one of the most manipulative forms of motivation. When people are afraid, they gain a sense of desperation that allows them to be convinced to go to normally inconceivable lengths and change the way that they themselves think and act. The twisted ruling system of Orwell’s predicted future eventually pursues and imprisons Winston due to his risky relationship with Julia, a co-worker. After Winston is captured, he is tortured and shaped until his sense of self is ripped away to the point of betraying Julia. Winston is manipulated until he admits, “Do it to Julia! Do it to Julia! Not me! Julia! I don’t care what you do to her. Tear her face off, strip her to the bones” when he is faced with his worst fear (Orwell 362). The first instinct of the human mind is always self-preservation and the government in 1984 turns this instinct against Winston by using it to force him to turn his back on the one that he cared about most. The love he had for Julia spanned far and wide and because of this, Winston would have held his own, in any other situation. Fear is an uncontrollable, unmanageable, chaotic thing though, and Winston was molded by this fact. He experienced a terror that shook him to his core and changed the way that he thought completely, it changed his person. This experience changed Winston completely and whatever identity he had left was stripped away. This is shown when later, Winston and Julia meet again. Their reactions, or rather, lack of reactions, convey a lack of deeper emotion and understanding of what had happened and the significance of the other person’s presence.
In reiteration, the novel 1984 displays how psychological manipulation can make steep changes to one’s mindset. From submission resulting from extreme forms of punishment and breaking one’s spirit with horror and panic, these dramatic changes to a person’s character can result from ideological forms of control. The characters in George Orwell’s 1984 demonstrate how effective this method of change really is as the readers follow them through Winston and Julia’s rise, and their eventual intertwined downfall.