1984 Essay: Read Our Top Sample

1298 words | 5 page(s)

The novel 1984 by the novelist, George Orwell, discusses the concept of life in a totalitarian regime. The protagonist, Winston Smith, struggles with his life under Big Brother, an all-knowing, all-powerful and all-present government. He cannot escape Big Brother. Rather, he lives his life while knowing that Big Brother observes every action and even every thought of his. A mere facial twitch could be viewed as a rebellious thought and lead to the execution of the individual. These are called thoughtcrimes and they represent the thoughts of a person that can be construed as a crime against the totalitarian regime. In this manner, Big Brother stops any individuality or self from developing in their people. As the novel progresses, Winston recognizes that “the self is not something ready-made, but something in continuous formation through choice of action” (John Dewey) and he faces a variety of choices to rebel, as evidence by the symbols around him. While there are multiple symbols in the novel, the symbols of the Brotherhood, the influence of the Party and Winston’s personal journal or diary most clearly reflect Winston’s growing recognition of his self as an ever-evolving and changing concept.

At the beginning of the novel, Winston Smith works for the Party, an omniscient government that controls the way the people think. . Early in the novel, he essentially represents the ideal citizen for the government. He does not question how his individuality has been suppressed by the Party and its mind and thought controls. He works for the Party and helps to advance their ideals. However, he quickly shows signs of rebellion. He feels stifled under the constant weight of supervision. This constant weight represents the Big Brother. Big Brother is the image of the totalitarian regime. The opposition to Big Brother is the Brotherhood. It is the symbol that allows Winston the ability to question the Party and its ideals. Winston’s discovery that others also have begun to recognize the falseness of Big Brother gives him the strength to continue his journey into his sense of self. This symbol reinforces his sanity in defying Big Brother and The Party, as the other members of the Brotherhood validate his perspective. The validation allows him to trust himself more and therefore, creates a more proactive to-the-cause version of him. The novel clearly shows this when Orwell wrote “It was the product of a mind similar to his own, but enormously more powerful, more systematic, less fear-ridden” (Orwell 208). Winston recognizes that there are “mind[s] similar to his own.” In this manner, he begins to realize that his mind is not like every other mind, but it is like some other minds. He realizes that there is not one thought in his world; rather, the world is made up of multiple thoughts and ideas. Some are like his and some are not. Big Brother is not like his thought process. The Brotherhood is. He joins into a society that has dared to question what it is told on a constant basis. When Winston recognizes that others tend to think like he does, he is then given the strength of character to branch out into additional thoughts, or actually thoughtcrimes, according to the Party.

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The second symbol indicates what he is rebelling against. This symbol is the influence of the Party, specifically the telescreens. This symbol is a strategic part of the efforts made by The Party to control individual thought and eliminate deviance from their ideal image of a model citizen. It continuously motivates Winston to behave in his thoughts and therefore his actions, as the telescreens are a constant reminder of the control being enforced by The Party. He cannot escape from this image, even when he goes home. When one leaves work for the day, one should essentially be free to be “one’s self.” One might be controlled, even in the world today, to act in specific manners and to even think according to “the company line.” This is part of a job, and one is to some degree, controlled in one’s actions and thoughts by what their employer expects and demands of him or her. However, when one enters the domicile of one’s home, one should be free to be the individual. One should no longer be controlled in the way one thinks or behaves. This cannot occur if one has a constant reminder of the ideology under which one lives.

The presence of the Big Brother through the telescreens reminds Winston that he is not free; rather, he is trapped into the person that Big Brother has forced upon him, as a ready-made character. The strength of the image of Big Brother is seen when Winston and Julia go to O’Brien’s house for the first time when O’Brien turns off the telescreen to discuss about the Brotherhood.O’Brien has the ability to do this because he is a member of the Inner Party. Even though it was only for a short 30 minutes that they were able to discuss the logistics, the time away from the telescreen is a privilege. Since O’Brien is a trusted follower of Big Brother, his thoughts are not expected to deviate. This proves that because of where you are in the hierarchy of the party you are more or less allowed to have your own freedom. In this situation the telescreen clearly would have gotten in the way of the discussion of the Brotherhood, and even previous to that Winston was aware of the realization he is only following the footsteps of the Party because he is never given a chance not to avoid it. Winston’s growing realization shows Winston’s true character and feelings towards Big Brother and how he has concealed it from the telescreens in order to avoid prosecution. When the telescreens, working to enforce Big Brother’s pursuit of complete dominance, are turned off, the conspiracy he believes in can be brought to the light.

The last symbol is Winston’s personal diary or journal. Winston purchases an illegal diary in which he chooses to record his thoughts, or thoughtcrimes. This symbol is Winston’s initial gateway to discuss his feelings about the inconsistencies found regarding the Party. It is the first step he takes developing his true self as it is his first expression of his own thoughts. He engages in thoughtcrimes, which are the worst type of crime. This is seen numerous times throughout the novel; In one example, Winston writes “Thoughtcrime does not entail death: thoughtcrime IS death” (Orwell 30). Another example is when he writes, “To the future or to the past, to a time when thought is free, when men are different from one another and do not live alone – to a time when truth exists and what is done cannot be undone: … “ (Orwell 30). By writing in his diary, Winston explores his fears and concerns with the age he lives in. He imagines a time where people are allowed to have their own thoughts based on individual creativity. Individual creativity is the hallmark of the self as an actualizing force; ready-made individuals are not creative or different from each other through this creativity.

In the novel 1984 by George Orwell, Orwell explores the idea of the self, as it relates to a regime that controls even the thoughts of its citizens. Through the character of Winston, Orwell creates a character that struggles to achieve his own sense of self in a world that will not allow it. This is explored through a variety of symbols, including the Brotherhood, the Party’s influence and Winston’s personal journal. As the novel progresses, Winston is able to develop his own identity, apart from the ready-made one that the Party allows him.

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