The Two Minutes Hate is one of the best-remembered and often-referenced sections of the novel. It’s shocking for any first-time reader the way that the quiet and depressing Records Department transforms into a passionate mob when stimulated with the right imagery on the telescreen.
Definition of Two Minutes Hate
The Two Minutes Hate is a daily ritual practiced in George Orwell’s dystopian novel 1984. It is a period of intense hatred and contempt directed towards the Party’s enemy, Emmanuel Goldstein, and his teachings.
The Two Minutes Hate is organized by the government and held wherever citizens are working. Everyone is expected to vocally express their hatred for the enemy by shouting, cursing, and spitting at a two-minute video projected onto a large screen.
This ritual is part of the government’s effort to maintain control over its citizens and keep them in line with its goals. During the Two Minutes Hate, citizens are encouraged to express their hate as vigorously and strongly as possible. This hate is meant to be a rallying cry for the people to fight against the enemies of the Party and to remain loyal to the government.
The Two Minutes Hate in 1984
The first mention of the “two minutes hate” in 1984 is found on page 13. Winston describes what it’s like to work in the Records Department when the Two Minutes Hate occurs. Everyone drags their chairs to the center of the room opposite a large television or telescreen. Everyone is expected to take their place at “eleven hundred” hours. Orwell wrote:
Winston was just taking his place in one of the middle rows when two people whom he knew by sight, but had never spoken to, came unexpectedly into the room.
The importance of this first example of the Two Minutes Hate corresponds with the first time that Winston Smith sees Julia, the young woman with whom he’s destined to start an illegal affair.
When describing what happened next, Orwell writes that the telescreen presented:
The next moment a hideous, grinding speech, as of some monstrous machine running without oil, burst from the big telescreen at the end of the room. It was a noise that set one’s teeth on edge and bristled the hair at the back of one’s neck. The Hate had started.
It was the face of Emmanuel Goldstein, the villain against whom the Party is fighting and the man who, Big Brother tells them, is out to destroy their way of life. People react immediately: “There were hisses here and there among the audience. The little sandy-haired woman gave a squeak of mingled fear and disgust.”
Orwell provides a great deal of information about the Two Minutes Hate at the beginning of the novel, saying that it “varied from day to day, but there was none in which Goldstein was not the principal figure.” It was towards Goldstein, not each other or the Party, that the citizens of Oceania were trained to aim their hate.
Here is another quote from this section of the novel when the “Hate” reaches its peak:
In its second minute the Hate rose to a frenzy. People were leaping up and down in their places and shouting at the tops of their voices in an effort to drown the maddening bleating voice that came from the screen.
The dark-haired girl behind Winston had begun crying out ‘Swine! Swine! Swine!’ and suddenly she picked up a heavy Newspeak dictionary and flung it at the screen.
Orwell notes that when the Hate was at its most powerful, no one seemed to be able to control themselves, even Winston, who can, to an extent, see through the facade the Party presents. Orwell wrote: “In the Two Minutes Hate, he could not help sharing in the general delirium, but this sub-human chanting of ‘B-B!…B-B!’ always filled him with horror. Of course, he chanted with the rest: it was impossible to do otherwise. To dissemble your feelings, to control your face, to do what everyone else was doing was an instinctive reaction.”
At the end of the Hate, the telescreen presented the three important Party slogans:
WAR IS PEACE
FREEDOM IS SLAVERY
IGNORANCE IS STRENGTH
This outpouring of emotion happens daily. It is one of the primary ways that the Party controls people’s emotions and where they’re directed. Instead of focusing on their own unhappiness and taking it out on the Party leaders, Oceanian citizens are trained to get out any passion in these two minutes.
What are the implications of Two Minutes Hate?
The Two Minutes Hate in George Orwell’s 1984 has a powerful and lasting effect on the citizens of Oceania. It unifies them with a shared sense of hate, instills fear of enemies, reinforces loyalty to the Party, and encourages obedience to its rules and regulations.
What is the importance of Two Minutes Hate?
Two Minutes Hate serves as an effective tool to control the masses and instill loyalty to the Party in George Orwell’s 1984. It encourages citizens to express their hate for enemies of the Party and reinforces the Party’s power over its citizens.
How did the Two Minutes Hate work in 1984?
Every day at 11 a.m. sharp, all the workers in the Ministry of Truth would gather in the canteen and watch the Two Minutes Hate on the telescreen. The image of Emmanuel Goldstein would appear on the screen, and everyone would break into an angry and frenzied tirade of abuse, insults, and screams.
Related Terms in 1984
- Doublethink: used to describe one’s capacity to hold two contradictory beliefs at one time.
- Inner Party: the top two percent of citizens from Oceania in George Orwell’s 1984.
- Memory Hole: a term that comes from George Orwell’s 1984. It refers to a hole in the wall into which paper and photographs are destroyed.
- Hate Week: a week of events that are designed to make the citizens of Oceania feel as much hate as possible towards certain enemies in George Orwell’s 1984.
- Big Brother: a character and symbol from George Orwell’s 1984. He is the leader of Oceania.
- Thoughtcrime: a term used throughout Orwell’s 1984. It is defined as thoughts that go against the political ideology of the Party.
- Read: 1984 by George Orwell
- Read: 1984 Themes and Analysis