In the novel 1984 by George Orwell, the dystopian country of Oceania is controlled by the Party. Many citizens of the nation have no freedom of thought, speech or knowledge. The Party brainwashes people into thinking the same way as it and kills those who so much as disagree with it.
In the film version of The Hunger Games, originally written by Suzanna Collins, the country of Panem is controlled by the Capitol. The inhabitants of the Capitol live luxuriously and safely while the people of the twelve other districts are in poverty and fear. Both fictitious stories have many similarities and differences.
In each world, the government unfairly controls its population and suppresses the peoples’ freedom. The Capitol kills anyone who is disobedient, and they also hold an event called the Hunger Games. “Once a year, boy and girl ‘tributes’ are chosen by lottery from each district and forced to compete in the Hunger Games, an event is televised throughout the land and manipulated for maximum ratings.
The last one left alive is the winner.” This event gives the Capitol power because its citizens are constantly reminded of the Capitol’s power. In 1984, the three classes were the Inner Party, the Outer Party, and the proles. The Inner Party brainwashes the other citizens by telling them lies and torturing them until they believe what the Party wants them to believe. Winston Smith, a member of the Outer Party, and Katniss Everdeen, a girl from the districts, are the protagonist in each story. The two each disagree with the way their respective governments rule and they fight for that in which they believe.
In the Hunger Games, Katniss Everdeen becomes one of the contestants in Hunger Games. She allies herself with Peeta, a fellow player from her district. They end up being the last two standing and to rebel against the Capitol, and they decide they will kill themselves at the same time so that there is no single winner. The Capitol ends up letting them both win since the citizens of the Capitol would find it unacceptable if they were to both die.
At the same time, allowing two victors was interpreted as an act of rebelling against the government. This causes an uproar in the Capitol and shows the other districts that the government was weak. Katniss completed her mission by giving hope to the other districts and convincing them to fight back, therefore beginning a revolution.
Winston Smith decided to rebel against the Party by living part-time in an apartment with his girlfriend Julia in a location that the Party does not supervise. He also tries to find ways to convince the proles to rebel with him. The proles are weak-minded laborers who make up approximately 85% of Oceania’s population and as Winston wrote it, “If there is hope, it lies in the proles.” By saying this, he means that the only way the Party could ever be overpowered is by the proles turning against the Party itself.
Living unsupervised with a girl and attempting to be freed from the Party’s control were both for which the Party had no tolerance. When they caught him in the act of rebelling he was sent to be tortured and brainwashed until his old mentality was non-existent and he had truly become loyal to the Party. Winston and Katniss both fought for what they believed in, but only one succeeded in their goal because of the division of classes in their world.
Panem has a distinct division of classes. The high class is the Capitol which menacingly rules the country and its citizens have good jobs and healthy lives. The low class is comprised of the citizens of the districts who live in poor conditions and collect and manufacture primary materials that are used in the Capitol. The Capitol sits high above the districts, but its rulers fail to realize that the districts could one day rebel.
Although the people from each district are too weak mentally to wrap their minds around the fact that they could rebel, Katniss reveals to them their true value. In the Hunger Games, not having a middle class weakened the high class since they were fooled into thinking that there was no threat from the low class. Oceania is ruled by the Inner Party, which is a division of the Party.
A small percentage of the population are members of the Inner Party, and they live like royalty. They all think alike, and it is their job to control their country’s collective mind, but; “If an Inner Party member gets out of line they are dealt with the same as any other member of society, mainly through torture, imprisonment and/or being erased from history (becoming an “unperson”).”
There is also the Outer Party whose members do jobs that require intelligence, and the uneducated proles who produce goods for little pay. The proles are too feeble to rebel, but the Outer Party members are smart enough to think for themselves and could persuade the proles into an insurgency. The Inner Party knew the Outer Party could begin an uprising, so it used preventative counter rebellion tactics to maintain its position as the high class. These stories show that a middle class was crucial for the high class to remain in an authoritative position.
Winston and Katniss were both rebels. They did their best to rebel, but Winston was not as successful as Katniss since he was up against a more dominant form of government. There are three tiers of classes in Oceania, and the middle class was a known threat to the high class, so the high class incorporated precautions to prohibit the middle class from taking away its power.
The rulers of the Capitol did not think they had to worry about rebellion since the whole time they had been in power; the lower class was so far beneath them that they could not take over the high class. This blinded the Capitol to the fact that there was a chance that a citizen from a district could one day reveal to the lower class their true strength. As shown in these two unforgiving societies, the class structure is an important factor in the government maintaining or losing its control.
• Eby, Douglas. “Suzanne Collins on The Hunger Games and Being a Writer.” Psych Central.com, 22 Mar. 2012, blogs.psychcentral.com/creative-mind/2012/03/suzanne-collins-on-the-hunger-games-and-being-a-writer/.
• Orwell, George. 1984. Penguin, 2008.
• “The Hunger Games.” Lions Gate Home Entertainment, 2012.
• Bean Shadow. “The World of ‘1984’: Class System.” Writing As I Please, 11 Mar. 2013, writingasiplease.wordpress.com/2013/03/11/1984-class-system/.
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