THE WORLD OF 1984: CLASS SYSTEM
The world of “1984” is divided into three main class systems: The Inner Party, the Outer Party, and the Proles. Big Brother is at the top of the pyramid.
Only making up 2% of the population, the Inner Party is the ruler of Oceania. They make policies, decisions and govern. The Inner Party is commonly known as “The Party” and they are the upper class. They have privileges different than any other such as being able to temporarily turn off their telescreens, living in comfortable homes, have good food and drink (they are not bothered by rations of lower quality supplies that the other classes must adhere to), having personal servants and access to helicopters and automobiles. No other class may enter Inner Party neighborhoods without a very good reason. Despite all this, the Party is not immune to the rigid thought and behavior imposed on it, even though it originates within their own ranks. If an Inner Party member gets out of line they are dealt with the same as any other member of society, mainly through torture, imprisonment and/or being erased from history (becoming an “unperson”).
The Outer Party is given state administrative jobs and are composed of the more educated members of society. They are responsible for the direct implementation of the Party’s policies but have no say. They are the “artificial middle class” and have strict rules applied to them. They are allowed “no vices other than cigarettes and Victory Gin”. They are spied on via telescreens and other means of surveillance, including being encouraged to spy on each other for any suspicious activities. Winston washes off a bit of ink on his hands while writing in his diary, knowing that someone could ask why he had ink and if he was writing and why was he writing and etc. According to history, the middle class is the most dangerous–their intellectual ability with limited power means they are more likely to start a revolution against the upper classes. The Outer Party is required to have a constant patriotic frenzy for the Party, following blindly every order from them. They live in rundown neighborhoods and are subjected to rations to an almost ongoing state of starvation. They are also required to abstain from sex unless it’s for procreative purposes.
The lower class of workers that perform the majority of menial tasks and labors. They are in the poorest of conditions but are the most free of any of the classes in that the Party does not spy on them, thinking they aren’t worth it. The Party keeps them entertained with alcohol, gambling, sports, and fabricated novels and pornography (called “prolefeed”). They are kept uneducated and are considered unable to gain any sophisticated views of their lives or the society they live in. They are considered harmless, nothing more than animals. Some members of the Thought Police wander around the prole neighborhoods to see if any of them are displaying intelligence and if so they are taken away and vaporized. The Proles make up 85% of the population. In his diary Winston writes, “If there is any hope, it lies with the Proles.”
The social classes of Oceania interact very little, but sometimes they do come together for a few events like going to the cinema. Winston ends up going to a prole pub unnoticed by the upper Party (or is he unnoticed?). And Winston is able to see O’Brien, an Inner Party man, on pretext of borrowing the latest edition of the Newspeak dictionary.