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Ministry of Truth


In George Orwell's novel Nineteen Eighty-Four, the Ministry of Truth is Oceania's propaganda ministry. It is responsible for any necessary falsification of historical events. The word truth in the title Ministry of Truth should warn, by definition, that the "minister" will self-serve its own "truth"; the title implies the willful fooling of posterity using "historical" archives to show "in fact" what "really" happened. As well as administering truth, the ministry spreads a new language amongst the populace called Newspeak, in which, for example, truth is understood to mean statements like 2 + 2 = 5 when the situation warrants.

It is one of the four ministries that govern Oceania. However, as with the other Ministries in the novel, the Ministry of Truth is a misnomer and in reality serves the opposite of its purported namesake.

In Newspeak, the ministry is known as Minitrue.

Description

Winston Smith, the main character of Nineteen Eighty-Four, works at the Ministry of Truth.[1] It is an enormous pyramidal structure of glittering white concrete rising 300 metres into the air, containing over 3000 rooms above ground. On the outside wall are the three slogans of the Party: "WAR IS PEACE," "FREEDOM IS SLAVERY," "IGNORANCE IS STRENGTH." There is also a large part underground, probably containing huge incinerators where documents are destroyed after they are put down memory holes. For his description, Orwell was inspired by the Senate House at the University of London.[2]

Role in information

The Ministry of Truth is involved with news media, entertainment, the fine arts and educational books. Its purpose is to rewrite history to change the facts to fit Party doctrine for propaganda effect. For example, if Big Brother makes a prediction that turns out to be wrong, the employees of the Ministry of Truth go back and rewrite the prediction so that any prediction Big Brother previously made is accurate. This is the "how" of the Ministry of Truth's existence. Within the novel, Orwell elaborates that the deeper reason for its existence is to maintain the illusion that the Party is absolute. It cannot ever seem to change its mind (if, for instance, they perform one of their constant changes regarding enemies during war) or make a mistake (firing an official or making a grossly misjudged supply prediction), for that would imply weakness and to maintain power the Party must seem eternally right and strong.

Departments

The following are the departments of the ministry mentioned in the text:

  • Records Department (Recdep in Newspeak)
  • Fiction Department (Ficdep)
    • Pornography department (Pornosec)
  • Propaganda Department (Propdep)
  • Tele-programmes Department (Teledep)
  • Research Department (Resdep)
  • Music Department (Musdep)

It is noteworthy that while the term "Ministry" implies that it is headed by a minister, there is nowhere in the book any mention of a Minister of Truth nor of the ministers heading Oceania's three other Ministries. Clearly, the ministers, if they exist, are shadowy figures, and all public attention is focused exclusively on Big Brother.

See also

References

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