The Effects of Psychological Manipulation in 1984 and V for VendettaIt is believed that complete government authority is only possible through coercion and deceit. In both George Orwell’s book, 1984, and James McTeigue’s film, V for Vendetta, abusive and deceptive tactics are used by oppressive governments in order to change the behaviours and perceptions of their citizens. This is done to ensure that there are no acts of rebellion that challenge their sovereignty. Despite the similarity between these two dystopian societies, however, psychological manipulation is more effective in 1984 than in V for Vendetta because of the absence of laws, staged acts of terrorism, and lack of religious belief.In Orwell’s novel, the absence of laws creates paranoia among citizens of Oceania, whereas the laws set forth by Norsefire, the governing body in V for Vendetta, allow citizens to have more freedom in their thoughts and actions. Thus, it is evident that INGSOC, the government in 1984, has more success in refraining citizens from rebelling. In Oceania, “nothing is illegal, since there are no longer any laws” (Orwell 8). This means INGSOC has unlimited power to do as they feel against any offence they deem punishable. Because of the fact that there are no written laws, citizens are unable to defend their innocence. This results in an immense fear among civilians to do anything out of routine or have rebellious thoughts. Even “a nervous tic, an unconscious look of anxiety, or a habit of muttering to oneself” is enough to have someone punished by death (65). In contrast, the citizens of England live in less paranoia because they are well aware of the laws set by Norsefire, and the consequences that follow disobedience. An example of this is the “yellow-coded” curfew that is set in effect at the beginning of the film, in which it is clearly stated that “any unauthorized personnel will be subject to arrest” (V for Vendetta). Because they do not live in constant fear of being arrested, citizens under the rule of Norsefire are able to have rebellious thoughts against the party, through which they come to the understanding that “there is something terribly wrong with their country” (V for Vendetta). This eventually leads to a massive coup d’etat, resulting in the downfall of Norsefire. While citizens of Oceania are unable to even recognize the corruption present in their government, the English are able to overthrow the oppressive party. This shows that the absence of laws in 1984 is more effective in manipulating the thoughts and behaviors of citizens to keep them from rebelling against their government.Furthermore, although both governments deal with terrorist attacks in order to preserve unity with citizens, INGSOC use a more potent method. Norsefire tries to cover up acts of terrorism with fabricated news, whereas INGSOC stages them. Whilst claiming they are at war with a neighbouring nation, “the government of Oceania itself” drops bombs on cities throughout the country, “just to keep people frightened” (Orwell 160). As a result, citizens are put into a war mentality, in which they are compelled to work together with the party to come out victorious in the “war effort”. In contrast, Norsefire attempts to hide the fact that there are terrorist bombings in order to keep citizens from suspecting that there is corruption present in the party. In efforts of showing his discontent with the government, V, the protagonist of V for Vendetta, blows up an old building. He also accompanies the explosion with fireworks and loud music. The next day, a national news station reports it was merely a “demolition that had been planned for some time”, and that the fireworks and music were just a “grand, improvised send off” for the building (V for Vendetta). This, however, proves not to be successful, as a scene that follows the news report shows an average, non rebellious civilian expressing her belief that the whole story is a lie, claiming there was no demolition. Distrust is shown between citizen and government, which is exactly what Norsefire is trying to avoid. Because they use terrorist attacks for their own benefit, the government of Oceania proves to have a more powerful influence over the perceptions of their citizens, thus maintaining unity and control.Lastly, psychological manipulation is more effective in 1984 than in V for Vendetta because there is an absence of religion within INGSOC’s ideologies, whereas Norsefire is a theocracy. In Orwell’s dystopian society, the mentioning of God can have one punished. Ampleforth, a party member who has the responsibility of changing past records to match INGSOC’s principles, is imprisoned because he “allows the word ‘God’ to remain at the end of a line” in a poem (Orwell 242). The party’s slogan, “Big Brother is watching you”, is a method through which INGSOC influences civilians to view Big Brother, the figurehead of the party, as omnipotent. In the eyes of citizens, he is a God of sorts, as it is he who keeps the country safe. During the Two Minutes Hate, a daily ritual that creates unity among party and citizens, his very image on a screen creates a feeling of calmness and security among civilians because of the “wisdom and majesty of Big Brother” that radiates from the picture (Orwell 18). This shows loyalty from the citizens to the party, as they believe Big Brother to be a holy figure, and his word to be absolute. In contrast to INGSOC’s ideology, Norsefire runs on religious belief. Lewis Prothero, also known as the “Voice of Fate”, tells the citizens of England that it is God who is “watching over the country”, and “no one can escape his judgement” (V for Vendetta). The party’s slogan, “strength through unity, unity through faith”, shows that they are using a common religion to bring everyone together. “Faith”, in this case, refers to belief in christianity. This, however, proves to be ineffective when it comes to maintaining governmental authority. As the movie progresses, we see that citizens are not afraid to question Norsefire, because it has communicated to them that the only one who can impose true judgment upon them is God. When V tells the people of England that their freedom of expression has been replaced by “censors and systems of surveillance” that coerce “their conformity”, they do not not hesitate to turn on the party (V for Vendetta). This is because they do not have any reason to believe that what Norsefire is doing is morally correct, as all that matters is their faith in God. INGSOC is more successful than Norsefire in manipulating the perceptions of citizens in their favour because they wipe out the concept of religion among Oceanians. The government in 1984 proves to be substantially superior compared to the government in V for Vendetta when it comes to deceiving their citizens in order to change the behaviours and thoughts towards their authority. This is a result of their decisions to stage terrorist attacks, and wipe out all laws and religions from Oceania. Although both works demonstrate the dangers of manipulative governments and the importance of individuality, Orwell’s portrayal of the message is through a party that has much tighter grasp on the actions and perceptions of its citizens.Works CitedOrwell, George. 1984. Penguin Group, 2008.McTeigue, James, director. V For Vendetta. Warner Bros., 2006.