The Comparison Of 1984 And The Stanford Prison Experiment

George Orwell's 1984 and The Stanford Prison Experiment by Kyle Patrick Alvarez both encapsulate the struggle for individuality and identity, brought on by situations of absolute power dictating elements of their livelihood which has brought upon the deindividuation of characters in both texts. Exemplifying how the complexity of human reactions are manifested from experiences both individual and collective and what effect these have on the characters through their development. Both texts have characters and protagonists whose individual reactions are tested by situations of absolute power which hence illustrate the flexible nature of human reactions arising from individual and collective experiences. The degrading nature of individuality and identity recognized in both texts are an admonition for the abhorrent experience that individuals are inflicted upon under the iron fist of absolute power. Both George Orwell and Kyle Patrick Alvarez through storytelling and visual and literary techniques are able to connect and engage the responder to reflect and understand the complexity of reactions enveloped within human experiences.

Winston Smith's complex and contrasting human reactions materialize due to the oppressive regime of absolute power brought upon by government party residing in Oceania being INGSOC. The absolute power is envisaged while Winston is being tortured by O'Brien. '*Power is inflicting pain and humiliation. Otherwise, you cannot be sure. Power is tearing human minds apart and putting them together again in new shapes of your own choosing. Power is not a means, it is an end. In our world, there will only be triumph and self-abasement.The high modality of words including 'inflicting' and 'tearing' amalgamated with the repetition of the word 'power' helps induce a reaction of intimidation, fear and shock through Winston's individual experience of torture. This underpins the motif of psychological manipulation made up of components including telescreens, microphones and the thought police which are all archetypes conceived to validate the absolute power that exists in Oceania, and hence, displaying the malleable nature of human reactions. The relationship between Winston and Julia further exemplifies the complex nature of human reactions. Their relationship evolving due to the party and its operations. They find interest in each other due to each others rebellious psychology. Julia promoting a hedonistic rebellion while Winston illustrates a more political natured rebellion in overthrowing the party. Their trysts become a motif as the collective human experience of love is displayed between them throughout their liaison. '*What you do, I'm going to do. This represents a significant shift, a new formed sense of mutualism as a reaction mechanism to the regime. Overall, this allows the responders to see the malleability of human reactions in the face of human experiences affected by absolute power.

The prisoners in the Stanford Prison Experiment demonstrate many forms of human reaction in response to their collective human experience. Philip Zimbardo's experiment involved simulating prison life for 14 days with 24 willing test subjects. In which 12 were randomly assigned as prison guards and the other 12 randomly assigned as prisoners. However the prison guards begin to take their job too seriously, with a newfound sense of absolute power. The prison guards inflict both physical discomfort... and psychological torture on the prisoners. (8612) '*I'll smash this camera!, I'll beat up your f***ing guards!, I want out, and I want out right now!, You're messing with my head, man. My head!, You have no right to f*** with my head!' in the movie. The close up shot of this scene highlights the emotion and reaction of prisoner 8612. His hysterics brought on by the torture he has faced from the prison guards. The repetition and emphasis on his mental state places priority on the psychological torture he has faced under the tyrannical prison guards. Furthermore, the use of batons and the 'hole'  which is an allusion to solitary confinement in penitentiaries are used as motifs to support the idea of absolute power which is carried out on the prisoners. Highlighting the complex nature of reactions shown by the prisoners towards the prison guards and supervising staff. Bringing responders to realise the intricacies of absolute power and how it can be used with prejudice to affect human reactions as seen in human history also.

After Winston's capture by the Thought Police, he is sent to the Ministry of Love and is tortured for months on end to cure himself by forcibly changing his perception of INGSOC to fit in line with what their goals are for the people. This exemplifies the power of individuality and how someone's individuality affects their reactions in different human experiences. In the Ministry of Love, O'Brien tortures Winston in a brainwashing attempt for him to become loyal to the party. '*Never again will you be capable of love, or friendship, or joy of living, or laughter, or curiosity, or courage, or integrity. You will be hollow. We shall squeeze you empty, and then we shall fill you with ourselves.'.* The high modality of the words 'never again' shows the degradation of individuality that will consume Winston till his death. While the use of the verbs 'love, friendship, living, laughter, curiosity, courage and integrity' are all referencing those elements that have been stripped away from Winston. O'Brien goes on to further state, '*If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face—forever.The human face a metaphor for Winston and many other people who resist the party while the boot being a metaphor for government and government officials using manipulative methods to indoctrinate its citizens and further strip them of their individuality. Showing that in time, people who showed resistance will be degraded and their individuality crushed for an infinite amount of time. This allows responders to understand the complex nature of individuality and how it can be manipulated and degraded to abolish any sense of identity through human experiences.

The prison guards overarching power and authority on the prisoners in the Stanford Prison Experiment meant a newfound ability to manipulate and degrade the living conditions and humanity of the prisoners. This is highlighted early on when they are given numbers, such as #8612 and #3401. [26:40 in movie]. The cutthroat methods of forcing the characters to identity only through their number as well as the harsh punishments for any misjudgement or mistake, shows the conspicuous aggression on deindividuated situations that the prisoners are experiencing. This close up shot here shows the struggle for individuality through the aggressive punishments, while being immediately compared to the close up of the prison guard, whose stone cold lack of emotion is a visual metaphor for absolute power, very similar to that displayed by O'Brien in Winston's torture. Further lack of individuality is exemplified through stripping prisoners of clothes , their beds  as well as their only form of sanitation being a bucket which is constantly filling up with human waste. The stripping of individual rights can be an allusion to the treatment of Jewish and others in Nazi concentration camps during WWII. As noted by []( '*~~During the first several months, the prisoners’ rooms had neither beds nor any other furniture. Prisoners slept on straw-stuffed mattresses laid on the floor.*' - ( -The stripping of individuality and humanity seen throughout WWII on Jewish and many others is akin to the methods used by the prison guards in the Stanford Prison Experiment~~. Kyle Patrick Alvarez' leadership of cinematography is able to capture emotion and reaction brought about from the lack of individuality created in reply to the collective human experiences the prisoners are facing.

Both 1984 and the Stanford Prison Experiment both exhibit the complex nature of human reactions in response to human experiences under the subjects of absolute power and lack of individuality. Both texts help analyze settings where the protagonists are living under the iron fist of absolute power and prove a point of the capabilities of absolute power and how it has the power to corrupt humanity. As it very much corrupted human reactions in both texts through human experiences modified through power. The sense of individuality needs to be fostered to preserving the uniqueness of each individual human, the lack of individuality articulated in both texts show how humans are brought to nothing. And the importance that our individuality brings to our individual human reactions through human experiences. Both Orwell and Alvarez have developed settings which bring clearly the effect of thematic concerns, which in the human context, can be our ultimate kryptonite.

07 July 2022
Your Email

By clicking “Send”, you agree to our Terms of service and  Privacy statement. We will occasionally send you account related emails.

close thanks-icon

Your essay sample has been sent.

Order now
Still can’t find what you need?

Order custom paper and save your time
for priority classes!

Order paper now