Winston Smith mentions it in passing within the novel, but it does not serve as obvious or prominent as The Ministry of Truth or The Ministry of Love in the novel. In Newspeak, the ministry is abbreviated as “MINIPAX.”
Explore The Ministry of Peace
The Ministry of Peace Definition
The Ministry of Peace is one of the four ministries described by George Orwell in 1984. (The others are listed below.) When first introduced on page seven of 1984, the narrator notes that:
The Ministry of Peace… concerned itself with war.
This is one of the first and best examples of the use of cognitive dissonance in 1984. The citizens are asked to conflate peace and war. An agency that’s named the “Ministry of Peace” is responsible for waging war. This relates to the classic Party slogans, one of which is “war is peace.”
Examples of The Ministry of Peace in 1984
The second mention of The Ministry of Peace is on page fifty-nine. Here, the narrator is describing what Comrade Ogilvy had done that initially placed him in the good graces of the Party. He had:
been a district organizer of the Junior Anti-Sex League. At nineteen he had designed a hand-grenade which had been adopted by the Ministry of Peace and which, at its first trial, had killed thirty-one Eurasian prisoners in one burst.
The contrast between the word “Peace” and the death of thirty-one people is a striking one, as Orwell intended it to be. Readers will, throughout the novel, be questioning how much peace the Party is truly interested in. As the book comes to an end, it’s clear that war, and the united hatred it can inspire, is far more desirably than peace. The latter should bring with it happiness, free time, more rations, etc. These are things that the Party is firmly set against in its attempts to completely control its populous.
Laboratories in The Ministry of Peace
The next mention of the ministry is on page 245. Orwell writes:
The scientist of today is either a mixture of psychologist and inquisitor, studying with real ordinary minuteness the meaning of facial expressions, gestures, and tones of voice, and testing the truth-producing effects of drugs, shock therapy, hypnosis, and physical torture; or he is chemist, physicist, or biologist concerned only with such branches of his special subject as are relevant to the taking of life. In the vast laboratories of the Ministry of Peace […]
Here, readers learn that the ministry is constantly experimenting with new ways of “taking… life.” As an agency interested in waging war and creating as much devastation as possible, this shouldn’t come as a surprise. The “war” they’re waging is against their enemies, outside of Oceania as well as within it. They are seeking a “peace” that can only come with total dedication to a war.
The Ministry of Peace is responsible for reporting on the war with Eurasia or Eastasia, depending on which is Oceania’s designated enemy at one moment or another. Winston Smith experiences this while watching a telescreen. Orwell writes:
Winston was listening to the telescreen. At present only music was coming out of it, but there was a possibility that at any moment there might be a special bulletin from the Ministry of Peace. The news from the African front was disquieting in the extreme. On and off he had been worrying about it all day.
What are the Four Ministries in Oceania?
The four ministries are:
- The Ministry of Peace
- The Ministry of Love
- The Ministry of Truth
- The Ministry of Plenty
When writing what they were concerned with, 1984 states:
The Ministry of Truth, which concerned itself with news, entertainment, education, and the fine arts. The Ministry of Peace which concerned itself with war. The Ministry of Love, which maintained law and order. And the Ministry of Plenty, which was responsible for economic affairs.
Of the four, Orwell says, the Ministry of Love “was the frightening one.” The Ministry of Peace was only mentioned six times in 1984, but its influence is implied far more often. Whenever Smith expresses concern about the war or questions its motivations or details, it is related to the propaganda that the Ministry of Peace puts out.
What is ironic about the Ministry of Peace in 1984?
The name “Ministry of Peace” is and is not ironic. It’s ironic in that the agony is responsible for waging war. But, the Party sees that war as a way to maintain peace at home.
What phrase does the Ministry of Peace use?
All the ministries use the same three-phase slogan. It reads: “War is Peace, Freedom is slavery, and Ignorance is strength.”
What happens at the Ministry of Peace?
The ministry is responsible for the war effort. Within its walls, experimental weapons are tested, and information is compelled about the war effort. Orwell does not focus on this ministry in as much detail as he does the Ministry of Truth or the Ministry of Love; so much is unknown.
Related Terms in 1984
- Big Brother: the leader of Oceania and the face of the Party. He’s desired as a war hero, inventor, and more. He may also not be real.
- INGSOC: newspeak for English Socialism, the governing system used throughout Oceania.
- Syme: a character in 1984 and the man responsible for the newest addition of the Newspeak dictionary.
- Doublethink: cognitive dissonance. Or the act of thinking two contradictory things at once. Or believing that the two things are true.
- Newspeak: the language used to diminish the range of thought in Oceania.
- Ministry of Love: responsible for brainwashing the citizens of Oceania.