The Ministry of Plenty

The Ministry of Plenty is one of the four ministries that are responsible for running Oceania in George Orwell’s 1984.

This ministry is in charge of the economy. They control the rationing of goods, supplies, and food. Chocolate is emphasized as one of the most important rations that are raised and lowered. It features in a few places in the novel, during which Winston notes that their figures and decisions are nonsense. He seems to be the only one that notices that they are changing. 

The Ministry of Plenty Definition

The Ministry of Plenty controls Oceania’s goods. They are in charge of how much food one person gets as well as supplies and the minimal amount of luxury goods that are possible, such as coffee and chocolate. 

The ministry plays an important role in controlling the populous’s understanding of the war and what their world should be like. It is within the confines of the ministry that men and women work to make products for the war, including weapons and supplies. But, they have no access to these items or control over what compensation they get. The world the Party has created means that the Outer and Inner Party members see no issue with this. 

Examples of The Ministry of Plenty in 1984 

Food and Other Goods

On page 74 of 1984, Orwell writes about an announcement from the Ministry of Plenty. While Parsons and Winston Smith are waiting for information from the military in regard to the war, the following statement comes on: 

‘Comrades!’ cried an eager youthful voice. ‘Attention, comrades! We have glorious news for you. We have won the battle for production! Returns now completed of the output of all classes of consumption goods show that the standard of living has risen by no less than 20 per cent over the past year. All over Oceania this morning there were irrepressible spontaneous demonstrations when workers marched out of factories and offices and paraded through the streets with banners voicing their gratitude to Big Brother for the new, happy life which his wise leadership has bestowed upon us. Here are some of the completed figures. Foodstuffs——

Here, readers can see many of the ways that the Ministry of Plenty affects the lives of everyday people. They suggest that the standard of living has “risen by no less than 20 per cent over the past year.” This is something that Winston is very aware of as false. The novel begins with a description of the very poor standard of living the most Outer Party members, not to mention the Proles, endure. 

“Our new, happy life” 

This phrase appears on page 74 of 1984 and is, in the narrator’s words, “a favourite of late with the Ministry of Plenty.” It is an example of how minor slogans, outside the primary Party slogans, make their way into everyday life. Through repetition, the various ministries and officials encourage the citizens of Oceania to think about life in a particular way.  

Chocolate Ration 

The Ministry of Plenty is responsible for raising and lowering various rations depending on how the war is going. This is, as other parts of the novel prove, yet another method of controlling the population and convincing them that they need to suffer for the greater good. When food is taken away, it’s the fault of Oceania’s enemies, and when it’s given, it’s because of Big Brother. Winston notes that: 

It appeared that there had even been demonstrations to thank Big Brother for raising the chocolate ration to twenty grammes a week. And only yesterday, he reflected, it had been announced that the ration was to be REDUCED to twenty grammes a week. Was it possible that they could swallow that, after only twenty-four hours? Yes, they swallowed it. 

This is an excellent example of doublethink. Parsons and other brainwashed members of the Party can believe two things at once. The rations have always been going down, and they have always been going up. 

In another section of the novel, on pages 49-51, Winston Smith is in charge of changing an announcement. The note he’s given reads, “times 14.2.84 miniplenty malquoted chocolate rectify.” He understands it as asking him to readjust the Ministry of Plenty’s figures. He notes that: 

All that was needed was to substitute for the original promise a warning that it would probably be necessary to reduce the ration at some time in April.


FAQs 

What was the Ministry of Plenty in 1984?

The Ministry of Plenty is in charge of supplies and food in 1984. It is one of four ministries, alongside the Ministry of Love, Ministry of Truth, and the Ministry of Peace. 

How is the Ministry of Plenty ironic?

It is ironic because it does not provide people with an acceptable standard of living, despite its title. The ministry is in charge of rationing what people have access to, despite the fact that Oceania has more than enough for everyone. 

Why is Oceania always at war?

Oceania is always at war to always give the citizens someone or something to be angry at. It is also a perfect justification to ration supplies and keep the standard of living low. Additionally, it keeps the citizens docile and inc constant fear that something terrible is going to happen. This means they willingly submit to whatever the Party wants from them. 


Related Terms in 1984

  • Hate Week: a period of hate celebration that happens once a year and is inspired by the Party’s depictions of the other superstates and Emmanuel Goldstein
  • 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.
  • 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.


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