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Language as a Method of Manipulation Essay Sample

Language as a Method of Manipulation Pages
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Language is more than a way of communication between people; language is a tool used for expressing, collaborating, and influencing. Language can make the audience not only learn, but feel. This is the beauty of language, it is more than a group of words. People often use language as a means of expression to convince people. Politicians, specifically, control the power of the language they speak in order to control the public. Without this power of language, they will have little power over the public. To unite the people and steer them towards a specific goal, politicians turn to language to persuade the public. Politicians use the power of language to manipulate the public to unite the people together for a common cause, good or bad.

The influence politicians have over the public is enhanced by the convincing powers of language. They use words not only for their meaning, but also for their feeling. The connotations that words have act as huge influencing powers. Orwell states that politician’s language “does not consist in picking out words for the sake of their meaning” (Politics). This is because feeling is stronger than meaning. If the people understand what the politicians are saying, that is great; if the people feel how the politicians want them to feel, that is a deeper level of control. Orwell displays this control in his novel 1984. The government there controls the emotional level of its people, for example, the government implemented a specific time to promote hatred towards their enemies. The government does this because “it is to our advantage…to believe that all misfortunes due to our own mistakes are really the work of the foreigner” (Huxley).

By shifting the blame onto others, it creates unity against a definite enemy and it creates unity for the government. By having complete control over the mind and hearts of the people, the government is able to manipulate the public to do whatever it is the government wanted. While 1984 is an extreme representation of manipulation, real life politicians are not so different. Politicians also try to control people’s minds through manipulation. “All current political thought is a mixture…between thought in terms of concrete realities and thought in terms of depersonified symbols and personified abstractions” (Huxley). The language politicians use towards the public controls the people with slight truths and romanticized emotions. Politicians use their power of language and emotion to manipulate the public into following them.

The word choice of politicians is a key to their ability to manipulate the public. When speaking of war, for example, a politician cannot convince thousands to die by saying it plainly. A politician instead will “use a language which conceals or embellishes its reality” (Huxley). When Winston Churchill spoke to the public he had a goal to convince the people to fight for their country. Rather than speaking of the tragedies and ache of war, he spoke of it with pride. “The hours of labor are nothing compared with the struggle for … honor, for right and freedom, to which we have vowed ourselves.” (Churchill). He tells the story of war in a meaningful, glorious way using words based on their connotation. He used the words “right and freedom” and “honor” that evoke pride and emotion to describe war. Had Churchill talked of the poisonous gas, pounding bombs, and physical and emotional pain, the British army may not have even been half its size. The language that Churchill used convinces the public on a mental and emotional level. Churchill used words that evoke feelings of pride for the nation and glory for fighting in order to manipulate the public into uniting and fighting together.

While manipulation is a word with a negative connotation, it can be used to enhance the greater good. Winston Churchill spoke to manipulate a nation to come together and fight as one. He had a goal to defeat the horrors in this world, and he united a nation while doing this. Manipulation is not bad if it has a good meaning and a good result. Abraham Lincoln also used his language to unite a country. While his goal was different than Churchill’s, the means were the same. Lincoln wanted to help the United States survive, and he did so by manipulating the public to come together as one. When Lincoln spoke he used language to portray emotion much in the same way Churchill did, “we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain” (Lincoln). This line also evokes pride in the nation which manipulates the public to unite as one. Manipulation is at times a key to success. Despite the negative connotation of the word, it can be used to unite the public for a common cause and do good for the nation.

Manipulation, however, is not always used for a greater cause. In 1984, manipulation is used to help the government, rather than the public. The public is manipulated into following the government to all ends. Orwell shows this in a somewhat exaggerated manner, but there are real life examples which show that if not watched, a government like the one in 1984 could become a reality. During the same time when Churchill was manipulating the public to unite for a greater good, Hitler was manipulating his public as well. Hitler was a very charismatic speaker and was able to use his language to manipulate the public to follow him, “If in the future you continue to stand behind me as one man, in loyalty and obedience, no power in the world will be able to destroy this Movement. It will continue its victorious course” (Hitler). Hitler spoke of pride and nationalism to unite the public together to follow him and the nation.

With both Churchill and Hitler, manipulation was used, and with both Churchill and Hitler, the public was united. However, the goals of both of these men were different. Churchill had a positive goal aimed towards the greater good while Hitler’s goal was not for the good of humanity. In Churchill’s case, manipulation was good because the cause and results of it were both good. In Hitler’s case, manipulation was bad because the cause and results of it were both bad. All politicians use manipulation, but that does not mean that all politicians are bad. Uniting the public through manipulation is solely a method to reach a goal, it is this goal that determines whether a politician should be deemed as good or bad.

Politicians manipulate the public to unite the people together for a common cause. Language can allow politicians to control the public on a mental and emotional level. Politicians speak of certain truths to convince the public mentally, and use words with specific connotations to control the public emotionally. The level of manipulation that politicians are able to achieve is alarming. However, it is not correct to assume that manipulation is always used in a bad way. At times, it is a necessity for politicians to use manipulation. Winston Churchill spoke to rally the public to unite to fight for the good of the world. Abraham Lincoln spoke to rally the public to unite to fight for the good of their country. In these cases, manipulation was used through speech, and the world was better because of it. This is not to say that manipulation is always good, an example of it being bad is Adolf Hitler, but it is to say that before the public should judge politicians for manipulation they first should realize what their reasoning behind it is. It is not a crime to use language in such a way, rather it should be encouraged. The beauty of language is that it can express feelings along with meaning. To stifle language would be to put an end to the emotional level of communication.

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