Inside room 101, in the building of the Ministry of Love, O’brien converses with a medic before they begin their treatment, or thought-correction one ought to say, to Winston Smith who is found guilty of thoughtcrime.
O’Brien: What’s two plus two?
O’Brien increases the dial to 40 and a sudden pain shoots into Winston’s vertebrae. He jumps into pain and screams but is held back by the straps which hold his limbs down.
Winston: Stop it.. Please.. It’s four! How can it not be four?!
O’brien: It can be! It can be three or sometimes five. It’s whatever Big Brother wants you to believe in. It’s what you’ll believe in for the rest of your life once you walk out of this room. You better understand that quick. You don’t want me to increase the dial up, do you? So, again, two plus two makes?
Winston: *staring right into O’brien’s eyes* Four!
O’brien repeats the process, now at 55 dial-level. A sheer pain goes up winston’s spine.
Winston: Please stop it!! You could make me utter it wrong, but you can never … never make it true!
O’brien: You’re the most robust person I’ve ever treated, intellectually though. But not the smartest! You have a line of thought deviating you from what is called the reality and you seize to believe in it.
*O’brien gestures his left hand with only his thumb concealed. And then signals towards the increasing dial. *
O’brien: How many fingers do you see, now?
Winston: Four! Ouch… Five.. Four! Four!!! Make it stop for god’s sake!
O’brien: Wrong! There’s no god! And you will only see four as long as you can withstand the pain! You can make it easier on yourself ! Again! How many fingers up?
The dial must have hit ninety by now but the thought criminal hasn’t been persuaded. Winston goes blank and all he can feel is a numb sensation around his face.
He opens his eyes and can only see blurry visuals of O’brien and his hand held in front of him.
Winston murmurs “Fou..Four..” O’brien turns off the dial and starts it back untill the dial hit it’s peak. And then finally stops it.
*Winston gains back his senses, partially but enough for making a conversation. To his surprise, he sees five fingers held up. Without any deformation.*
O’brien: Better. Now you’re ready! * with a short pause*
Medic, start the procedure …
Winston was finally convinced of what he saw. Neither were his eyes deceiving him nor did O’brien show all five fingers. It’s the eventuality of his suffering and the only escape for Winston from that life taking pain was to believe in it, accept it or simply, be convinced by it. It’s how mind works when all doors are shut. It’s not logical, but it’s effective. Such is the nature of persuasion in it’s most offensive state of imposition. It’s strategy against conviction, the seed of indigenous resilience. The battle between internal and external, because welcoming a foreign idea is against the inertia of mind. History tells us, whenever there was an oppression of free mind, there always came a day of rebellion. When free minds are “rectified” to meet the needs of the imposer, there exists no rebellion but unity driven by ignorance and mental slavery. And if this is conducted on a scale big enough by a power mighty enough by destroying all materialistic evidences which may question the authoritarian, the past is what the powerful want to tell and isn’t necessarily factual. And that would be the most tragic state of affairs if not for the success of an oligarchic government and it’s effectiveness.
The ideology isn’t about the question O’brien was posing to Winston, which would make it silly if it were just about arithmetic. The underlying reason of changing Winston’s conviction is much more subtler. His belief in truth was undeterred and the commotion it might create in public if unchecked was a cause of concern. O’briens’ job wasn’t just to persuade him, but also to make him forget that some foreign germ of an idea had been implanted in his mind. If that deed was done, the evidence, whatsoever, is forever lost. This is the kind of fear, the extreme possibility of terror, the author of the novel, 1984, George Orwell awakens his readers to as we delve in a world where :
“War is Peace.
Ignorance is Strength.
Freedom is Slavery.”
Book : 1984 , George Orwell