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Dibene 1

Andrew Dibene
Professor DerOhanessian
English 113B
25 March 2015
Project Space
Many who have been inside a courtroom can tell you that inside looks like an institution
of punishment and judgment. Inside a courtroom, it has these edgy dark-brown seats that make
you sit up straight and feel uncomfortable. The judges stand, which is the tallest seat in the
courtroom, has two lower seats on the sides for the witness and court clerk who is, by the way,
typing everything that is said. On the side of the courtroom is a Jury box that holds twelve seats
for the jury who would most likely decide the fate of who ever are accused. Directly in front of
the Judge are two stands separated, for the prosecutor and the defense. Lastly, is the bailiff who
is dressed in a sheriffs uniform that helps the judge and polices anyone who gets out of line in
the courtroom. The bailiff is also the only person inside with a loaded gun. The layout of a
courtroom is not a mistake. A courtroom was purposely designed to control ones behavior, make
you feel uncomfortable and let everyone know that inside; no immature behavior will be
tolerated. Being a place of judgment, a courtroom is a place of power, which houses its own form
of politics just how in George Orwells 1984, Winston Smith unconsciously gets controlled by
several spaces throughout the book.
In George Orwells best-selling novel 1984, the protagonist Winston Smith, lives in a
dystopian society named Oceania, where Big Brother (a.k.a. the Party), controls everything the
people can do, say, act, feel, believe, etc. In 1984, there is a certain time of the day called, Two
Minute Hate (Orwell 11). Two Minute Hate is the time of day where every citizen in Oceania is
forced to look at a telescreen to hear awful and cruel things about a man named Emanuel
Goldstein. Winston worked in a building called the Ministry of Truth. While Winston was
working, it was time for Two Minute Hate. When two minutes started, everyone in the Ministry

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of Truth gathered, including Winston, to watch the telescreen.In a lucid moment Winston found
that he was shouting with the others and kicking his heel violently against the rug of his
chair.(Orwell 14) This shows that being in that building with others who were shouting horrible
things about Goldstein influenced Winston unconsciously to do the same. This is what Big
Brother wants. Big Brother wants to control people to believe in the hatred for Goldstein. Simply
by being in the Ministry of Truth around other people Winston was unconsciously controlled
without him even being aware. This is just like being in a courthouse. When you walk into
courthouse and see the judge talking, the bailiff standing there emotionless and, everyone is quiet
sitting up straight; self consciously youre most likely to walk in quietly and do the same just like
Winston. Being in a space can control behavior and conversation because people who occupy
that space give it meaning and self consciously show you the politics of that specific space.
Another interesting space that was discussed by Michel Foucault, a French philosopher
who is best known for his work Discipline & Punish: The birth of the Prison, was the idea of
a prison that could police itself. Foucault envisioned a circular prison with one guard tower in the
middle that can see everyone, and everything that the prisoners do but the prisoners cannot see
who was inside the tower. Foucault believed that by enforcing the rules and showing the
consequences to the prisoners could eventually have the prisoners police themselves because of
the circular way the prison was built. If the prisoners believed that someone either in the tower or
other prisoners were always watching, it would establish fear into the prisoners and discipline
them without even having anyone in the tower. This idea of the prisoners policing themselves is
just like how Winstons conscious is in a way policing Winston because of the control the Party
has on society. The prisoners policing themselves and Winstons conscious policing himself are
both crucial in the space theyre in because if either stand out by behaving differently the Party
or guards will punish them. In Discipline & Punish: The birth of the Prison, Foucault said:

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But let there be no misunderstanding: it is not that a real man, the object of knowledge,
philosophical reflection or technological intervention, has been substituted for the soul,
the illusion of theologians. The man described for us, whom we are invited to free, is
already in himself the effect of a subjection more profound than himself. (Foucault)
A 'soul' inhabits him and brings him to existence, which is itself a factor in the mastery that
power exercises over the body. The soul is the effect and instrument of a political anatomy; the
soul is the prison of the body.(Foucault) In other words, by saying your free you are already
being controlled by youre own mind and soul. Your soul is the reason and causation of the way
you think. In a courtroom, you have the freedom to do whatever you like but dont because you
know of the consequences. In 1984, Winston meets a woman named Julia and they fall in love.
In Oceania, men and women can not have any intimate interaction at all. One day as Winston
was with Julia they stumble across a little room above a small convenient store that they both
thought to believe was safe and unknown by the Party. When Winston was in that room he felt
free and uncontrolled because it was unknown to the party and nobody knew of it. Later in the
book it turns out he was being spied on all along in that room and gets punished in prison
(Orwell 136). One does not want to face those consequences because the mind and soul know its
frowned upon by people in that space and will also not be tolerated by authority.
Some may say that a space or, in this case a courtroom, cant influence the behavior of
somebody because of the circumstances or situation. For example, someone may say that being
in a courtroom when court is not in session cant influence the behavior of an individual. Im
sure someone can act how he or she feels while court is not in session but, for how long would
an individual do that until the bailiff or a person of authority come to stop it? If court was not in
session but the bailiff was there, would someone still act carelessly? This is just what Foucault
and Orwell are expressing. In 1984, Orwell describes Winston as an individual who wants to

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overthrow Big Brother but when surrounded by society is in fact scared of showing any sign of
rebellion or the prisoners in Foucaults reading who believe that theyre being watched
constantly so are scared of acting differently or out of turn.
Feminist criticism is another great example of how people are expected to act depending
on the space theyre in and can relate to the politics of a courtroom. Feminist Criticism is defined
as A modern tradition of literary commentary and polemic devoted to the defence of women's
writing or of fictional female characters.(Oxford) There are many approaches to feminist
criticism but one theory says, Women are oppressed by patriarchy economically, politically,
socially, and psychologically; patriarchal ideology is the primary means by which they are kept
so.(Purdue) This can mean that women can be in theyre own home for example, and are
expected to clean and cook because they are women. This is because society makes women feel
thats the duty for women which is to stay home and clean and cook. Because society treats
women like this, many women start to believe and accept this ideology. Society judges women
just how a courtroom judges people. In a courtroom, acting inappropriately can get you punished
by the judge, the jury or the bailiff and not playing the part of women at home gets you bashed
by society. This theory on feminist criticism can also relate to 1984. In 1984, Winston along with
his colleagues, are expected to yell and get angry during Two Minutes Hate or else the workers
in the Ministry of Truth will notice and punish Winston by telling the authorities. This shows
how significantly society plays a role in people lives.
All in all, spaces such as a courtroom, Foucaults prison or, Winstons dystopian society
can influence an individuals behavior because of the people who give those spaces meaning.
People in society self consciously show you the politics of a particular space one way or another
whether youre aware of it or not. In a courtroom, there is an expectation and a standard of the
behavior that youre supposed to have as soon as you step inside. This behavior by people starts

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off just on how the room looks and the vibes they get. This is not a mistake by the designers of a
courtroom its just an effective way of controlling society and you.

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Work Cited
Foucault, Michel, and Alan Sheridan. Discipline & Punish: The Birth of the Prison. New
York: Vintage, 1975. Print.
Dean, Mike, and George Orwell. 1984. Harlow: Pearson Education, 2003. Print.
"Welcome to the Purdue OWL." Purdue OWL: Literary Theory and Schools of Criticism.
N.p., n.d. Web. 18 Mar. 2015.
"Feminist Criticism." The Concise Oxford Companion to English Literature, (2007): .