A World without Love: the Ramifications of an Affectionless Society in 1984
People have always tried to escape from their reality, and some people find this escape through love. Love might be the escape from reality in 1984 for different characters, who are thenselves represented in various ways. We can notice love is the representation of a run away from reality, while the suppression of love is the distortion of humanity. It is important to highlight the isolation of love inside the Oceanic society where the Party tries to prohibit affection, banning all love manifestations from their members. Instead of love, the party promotes hate among people during the Two Minutes’ Hate on a daily basis.
In fact, the Ministry of Love was ironically the most dangerous and scariest ministry of all, as Winston says: “The Ministry of Love was the very frightening one. There were no windows in it at all” (10). The quote shows how the ministry of love, contrary to what love represents, looks detrimental and dark portraying an isolated, cold sensation. Winston noticed the incongruences between the Party point of view about love, and what he felt love was from the vague memory from his past where he has a feeling that makes him believe love and other emotions were present in the past, he says those feelings “…belonged to the ancient time, to a time when there was still privacy, love, and friendship” (67). He portrays that the dictatorship he experiences has erased these emotions. To develop a healthy relationship between people, we need those emotions as they are the base of an effective relationship. In a way, the party isolates the emotions related to love to keep people under control, to keep them focused in the Party principles only.
In fact, love is important in all facets of our lives, love might be present in different aspects apart from relationships. In the novel, all kind of love are suppressed. The psychologist Karin Sternberg talks about the importance of love at different aspects of human relationships, she states “Even people who are very oriented toward other endeavors— career, travel, athletics, various kinds of adventures— seek love to enrich and in many ways, transform their lives. Love is vital not only to our self-fulfillment, but also to the propagation of future generations.” (2) This quote reinforces the idea that love is very important even for the future.
It is noticeable that in 1984 the party seeks for relationships that can produce children as a duty rather as an act of pure love, and this might be detrimental because children that grow up without a loving family may suffer from psychological issues. For example, Sternberg portrays the childhood of children might become detrimental due to the lack of love “Even if couples produced children under conditions lacking love, growing up without love would doom many of these children to lives of great unhappiness and would jeopardize the future for us all.” (2) The unhappiness portrayed in the quote can be seen when Winston meets Mrs. Parsons ‘children, they lack of compassion and what we consider a normal childhood, for example “They´re disappointed because they couldn’t go to see the hanging, that’s what it is.” (53) Children at the ages of nine, in a normal social development, would be playing with other toys different from guns, and would be interested in other kind of entertainments different from the hanging committed to the traitors at the Minlove.
It is clear the disruption of the human compassion between the Ingsoc youth and society in general, they are slaves of the oppression and the prohibition of emotions and feelings making them lose their solidarity and other values of the human beings. The majority in the novel lives under the lack of effective relationships, which could lead to the liberation of emotions and evolve to stronger feelings that can help people to live a healthier, normal lifetime. Ineffective relationships lack from emotions and love, while effective relationships are represented as freedom.
An example of an unsuccessful relationship is shown between Winston and his wife, this suppression of real love is the impulse Winston needs to create a sexual attraction to Julia. On the novel, sexual attraction is isolated and banned, Winston uses his suppressed emotions to create a sort of attraction towards Julia, different from his bond with his wife Katherine, that lack of attraction and sexual desire. Also, sex is described just for procreation; Katherine describes it as “[O]ur duty to the party” (154) which kills all the passion and the emotional beauty that involves making love with a love one. In a way, this portrays the dystopian society that is emotionless and lacks for passion and pure feelings provoked by the totalities. Winston tries to escape from this reality by slowly falling for Julia and ignoring the Parties ideals, pursuing his primary emotions. While it is true at the beginning he just wants her sexually and with an obscene desire,
Winston is trying to understand love and he portrays it with a mix of sadism. The possible reason is that he thought he was not able to have Julia, and that awaked the hate and the desire, mixture that develops in frustration, that’s why he says to Julia “I hated the sight of you… I wanted to rape you and then murder you afterwards.” (275) These feelings evolve to true love, a love that would make him forget about the party, a love that would give then the satisfaction of being a rebel and go against the rules and the oppression that surround him. The primary instincts Winston experiences are necessary to develop the relationship between them, as while the novel goes on we notice the development of a stronger love that begins to make them feel alive, make them feel free and liberate from the depressive reality they experience. Love in the novel has become the escape of the problems, the relief of Winston’s true soul. This is represented as the loss of his pain and his daily coughs, the loss of his addiction for gin, and his mood boost as we read “Winston had dropped his habit of drinking gin at all hours. He seemed to have lost the need for it. He had grown fatter, his varicose ulcer had subsided, leaving only a brown stain on the skin above his ankle, his fits of coughing in the early morning had stopped” (343).
As I previously said, Winston’s love for Julia helped him escape from his problems, making him a healthier individual. We can infer that gin was not needed because he just wanted Julia in his life, she was his new escape from reality. Love, in fact, brings a series of personal benefits to our lives. In contrast to what happens inside the party and their beliefs, genuine love is what makes us human beings and gives us the freedom to have options depending on our emotions. The lack of love in 1984 portrays a lack of compassion, solidarism and care from the majority of the members of the party, making them lose their humanity. The party tries to dehumanize people in all possible ways to keep them slaves from the party and banned emotions to maintain control. This control is exerted trough psychological and physical torture, for example in the ministry of love they torture people to a point they would do anything without caring if it would be damaging to others: Finish it off and let me die. Shoot me. Hang me… Is there somebody else you want me to give away?… I don’t care who it is or what you do to them. I’ve got a wife and three children. The biggest of them isn’t six years old. You can take the whole lot of them and cut their throats in front of my eyes, and I’ll stand by and watch it. But not Room 101! (544) In this quote, it is shown how the party tortures an old man to the point that he loses his humanity and is willing to do whatever they ask him to save himself from a terrible torture at the room 101. The lack of love towards his family is represented by the loss of compassion, he is capable of watching them die in a horrible way in order to escape from his suffering.
The necessity of love and be loved make us humans, and that’s what Rabbin Adin states in his work. His article calls to reflection about the true meaning and importance of love between people. He talks about the compassion and the honest love, the benefits to the human being and how this helps us keep our humanity: Having compassion is a matter of keeping our humanity…in order to keep living as human beings. Otherwise, we will destroy everything that is not useful… Because when people are behaving without compassion, they cease to be human beings. (Rabbin, 2007) Adin supports that the lack of compassion leads to dehumanization, and that’s what is portrayed in the society of 1984. The lack of love and the suppression makes people do things that are against their morals, making them less humans, taking away the beauty and the benefits of having normal human relationships towards others based in love and affection.
The freedom of sharing affection with Julia, makes Winston a better, healthier human being, opening his eyes about the unfair reality his people were living. Love makes Winston to be more aware about the party oppression. We notice the reasons why the party try to isolate love, because this emotion is so strong that can battle against the false love to the party. If people begin to fall in love, eventually they would fall to their primary emotions and they will begin to feel free and able to do anything, for love. That’s why the party suppresses love and relationships, because they lose power and people lose focus from Big Brother. The irony surrounds the party, as they battle the love but all the inner party members seen to be in love with the ideology and Big Brother principles. In fact, when they want to “rehabilitate” an individual from being a rebel, they seek for then to love Big Brother, this is what happens to Winston at the very end of the novel. The physical and psychological torture make him forget the real love to develop a fake love towards Big Brother “He had won the victory over himself. He loved Big Brother.” (723) Winston at the end suppressed the love he had to Julia, and incorporates the falsity of an introduced love in his though, he is apprehended again. He loses all his freedom of loving and caring about Julia, and at the same time he loses his awareness and his sanity which develops in the addiction to gin and the return of his pain and sickness.
Orwell’s novel succeeds in portraying the lack of love and the suppression of emotions building up a dehumanized society, making Winston and Julia rebel against their principles. This rebellion in the name of love makes them more human and free. However, the novel portrays how the loss of values in 1984 is so strong that the power of love is not able to succeed in a dystopian novel, making the characters lose their liberty and falling back in the insanity of living without love in a totalitarian nightmare that lacks from true humanity.
Carter, Michael. “Nineteen Eighty-four.” George Orwell and the Problem of Authentic Existence. Totowa, NJ: Barnes & Noble, 1985. 176-214. Print. Orwell, George. Nineteen Eighty-Four. Dalibor Books, 2016. Sternberg, Karin. Psychology of Love 101. New York, US: Springer Publishing Company, 2013. ProQuest ebrary. Web. 20 October 2016. Steinsaltz, Rabbi A. “Love, Actually.” Canadian Jewish News, Don Mills, Ont. 2007.http://search.proquest.com/docview/351428271?accountid=43847.
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