Misogynistic Views of George Orwell in His Novel 1984
George Orwell’s 1984 (1949) is a novel set in a theoretical future in which London is currently arranged in ‘Oceania’, a state led by a totalitarian regime which seems to be led by the elusive figure of Big Brother. The general public is variously leveled (much like the Indian caste system), with the ‘proles’ at the bottom, above them the Party individuals, and then the members of the Inner Party. The proles are considered useless to the point where they’re allowed to experience their lives as they wish, however, Party individuals are constantly checked up on by the Inner Party and the Thought Police. Any deviation from Party rules — or from the social standard, since there are no laws (Orwell 8) — is severely punished. ‘Big Brother’, as everybody knows, ‘Is Watching’.
It is for the most part believed that by portraying this horrific dystopian world Orwell intended to scrutinize totalitarian administrations, and that he succeeded at this. The storyteller, simultaneously demonstrates a misogynistic world view regularly shown in dystopian books, in which ladies are irrelevant and substandard, ‘either sexless automatons or rebels who’ve defied the sex rules of the regime’ (Atwood 516). This is very two-faced: Orwell assails Big Brother’s domination [of the state] but never notices that he is ‘the perfect embodiment of hypertrophied masculinity’ (Despair 88) the narrator never focuses on male power over females even though it is present in the most subtle of ways.
1984 begins with a third person narrator presenting the main character, Winston Smith, and his reality. From the plain first page, this storyteller is continually exchanging between what appear to be facts ; the writing on the divider says BIG BROTHER IS WATCHING YOU, the elevator that only occasionally works, Winston is thirty-nine and has a varicose ulcer over his right ankle — and Winston’s sentiments. It’s hard to tell whether the corridor really ‘smelt like boiled cabbage and old rag mats’, and if Big Brother did have ‘ruggedly handsome features’ (3) because these are all subjective. The utilization of free indirect discourse (FID) (‘It was no use trying the lift’) guarantees, as in numerous different books, that the fundamental character’s focalizationl is not entirely obvious and taken as reality.
It isn’t the situation that Winston’s feelings are constantly introduced as goal, however the storyteller frequently interchanges between the use of FID and saying that it is Winston who thinks something. Give us a chance to consider for instance the first run through Julia (by then still anonymous) is said:
“He did not know her name, but he knew that she worked in the Fiction Department. Presumably — since he had sometimes seen her with oily hands and carrying a spanner — she had some mechanical job on one of the novel-writing machines. She was a bold-looking girl, of about twenty-seven, with thick hair, a freckled face, and swift, athletic movements. A narrow scarlet sash, emblem of the Junior Anti-Sex League, was wound several times round the waist of her overalls, just tightly enough to bring out the shapeliness of her hips…He disliked nearly all women, and especially the young and pretty ones. It was always the women, and above all the young ones, who were the most bigoted adherents of the Party, the swallowers of slogans, the amateur spies and nosers-out of unorthodoxy”. (11-2)
The storyteller flawlessly switches between a third person portrayal and the thoughts and opinions of Winston. Yet, in truth the storyteller utilizes a printed style that just recommends factuality. The sentence Patai alludes to (‘It was always … unorthodoxy’) is encompassed by Winston’s subjectivity: ‘He disliked’, it says in the sentence previously, followed by ‘gave him the impression’. Yet at the same time, the storyteller establish it appear as though Winston’s views of ladies are the reality. What’s more, these impressions are sexist and two dimensional.
The ladies that Winston-storyteller depicts are generally void disapproved and loaded with party mottos like his better half ‘The Human Soundtrack’ (Orwell 69), or proles, whom he sooner or later watches ‘disgustedly’ (73), whores, or self-destroying maternal figures: notwithstanding when seen emphatically ladies are generalizations (Patai, Despair 88). ‘Women are at the margins’, and ‘exist mainly as a source of frustration, irritation, or temptation’ (Bail 215). Also, this view is never tested by the main lady who doesn’t fit very into this account: Julia may be unique, she is still first and foremost characterized as a female body.
Winston begins needing to rape and murder Julia. It is consequently unquestionable that Winston began loathing Julia on the grounds that he needed to have intercourse with her. In knowing, or expecting, that that could never happen, Winston winds up feeling tricked out of something that he believes he should have. Potentially even cheated out of a feeling of manliness that may accompany having intercourse with a young lady like Julia.
It is by all accounts the main reason Winston needed ‘a lady of his own’ (71): for her body, and the politics that accompany it. When he stops ‘simply’ loathing Julia’s body, Winston begins to consider it to be a means to an end: he supposes Julia can oppose the Party with it. When he longs for her stripping, what overpowers him is profound respect for the motion with which she ‘… throw[s] her garments aside … as if Big Brother and the Party and the Thought Police could all be into nothingness by a single splendid movement of the arm’ (33). Afterward, he calls a similar activity however, all things considered, a ‘gesture with which a whole civilisation seem[s] to be annihilated’(131). Moreover, he feels like his first time sex with Julia isn’t a demonstration of affection, or even want for woman ‘you could not call … beautiful’(132), yet it is a political demonstration.
The significance of political issues changes all through the novel, and it appears that the more extended their relationship endures, the more centered Winston is around simply Julia’s body. When he gets Julia’s ‘I love you’- note, he is exclusively worried about losing her ‘white youthful body’ on the off chance that he doesn’t answer (115), yet later on he gets extremely angry when Julia is menstruating on the grounds that he feels like she is duping him out of something he doesn’t simply need frantically, yet really has a right to. (It has been noted by both Patai and Tirohl that Julia and Winston obviously just get together to have sex.)
What’s more, despite the fact that Winston eventually begins saying he “loves” Julia, he never fully comes around to valuing her as a person. Furthermore, toward the end of the novel, when he meets Julia for the last time and his “love” for her has been lost, she is still just depicted regarding her body parts: what has changed after the torment is that her abdomen is thicker, her body feels like stone, and her feet have become larger. (304– 5).
For example: Winston gains from Julia that ‘[a]ll the workers in Pornosec’, where cheap pornography is made for the proles, ‘except for the head of department, were girls’ (137) .‘The theory was that men, whose sex instincts were less controllable than those of women, were in greater danger of being corrupted by the filth they handled’ (137). This clings to a view that ladies are simply normally less inspired by sex than men, additionally sustained when we are informed that ‘so far as the women were concerned, the Party’s efforts [to dirty and distort the sex instinct] were largely successful’ (69).
In the event that we consider that 1984 is told from the point of view of Winston, the book’s misogyny can be pardoned, or if nothing else clarified, by saying that it is just Winston’s misogyny. However, this doesn’t represent the way that the Appendix, written in past tense, was positively not composed by Winston, which would imply that the storyteller and Winston can be isolated. What’s more, the storyteller has settled on the choice to show Winston’s sexist perspectives as actualities, while never addressing them. Not notwithstanding when it’s the Party, which is always addressed, doing the persecuting.
This all prompts a book that criticizes, and cautions for, totalitarian administrations, while leaving the mistreatment of women out of each condition. 1984 is considered a work of art and for good reasons, however it should, as any book, dependably be read fundamentally rather than directly . It is easy to oblige the story and the facts exhibited, however in the event that we don’t investigate and examine Winston’s and the storyteller’s perspectives, as we are allowed to do so, when we simply underestimate the expert of this content, on the off chance that we go along with its perspective of what is ordinary, we have gained nothing from it.
Physical Control And Psychological Manipulation By George Orwell
Through the Interactive oral, I deepened my understanding of the cultural and contextual considerations of 1984 by George Orwell. By discussing the themes of physical control and psychological manipulation, we gained an insight into Orwell’s warning about totalitarianism.
Totalitarianism is an official ideology to find the “perfect” state of a human with the hierarchy of one superior leader: Big Brother. Orwell was a propagandist during the World War II, working for the British government. As he wrote the book, the government had him under surveillance in precaution for his socialist opinions. This is reflected in 1984, as we explored the theme of physical control. Just like Orwell, the citizens are constantly being watched. Whether it was through the telescreen or through a microphone, there was no sense of freedom, for “BIG BROTHER IS WATCHING YOU!”.
Where the two main characters, Julia and Winston, are together in a room, persuaded through their trust into Mr Charrington that there isn’t anyone watching them. As they admired the bed in which they were going to sleep in, Julia says that the bed is “full of bugs”, foreshadowing that they are being listened. This is true because, in the end, they get caught by Mr Charrington himself, the store owner and a thought police. This is significant because this reflects the characteristics of totalitarianism that Orwell is trying to warn the readers about, that if it comes over power, there is no such thing as freedom.
In addition, just like Room 101, there was a conference room at the BBC Orwell worked for during his propagandist career. It was known for some of the most horrifying scenes he did, just like in 1984. Room 101 contained one’s greatest fear that was unbearable to endure. This reflects the theme of psychological manipulation, where the Party would torture one until they give in to the Big brother, just like Winston. With his strong love towards Julia, he was determined to not betray her. However, he was unable to when he was threatened by rats, screaming, “Do it to Julia! Not me!”.
This was the Party’s way of brainwashing their citizens. By Winston accepting Big Brother as the Government, Winston is no longer had the individual thoughts that made him human. With “the long-hoped-for bullet entering his brain”, it metaphorically emphasises that he is now dead. Throughout the book, it was assumed that once you have been caught by the thought police, you are sentenced to death after confessing the crimes. However, just as it describes with Winston, they are now one of the Party’s figures, dead in the soul, fully supporting the Party.
Thus by discussing the themes of physical control and psychological manipulation, I was able to delve deeper into the novel. Taking into consideration the cultural and contextual factors, I was able to grasp Orwell’s perception of totalitarianism, a corrupted nation that is overpowered by power itself over the citizens.
Modern Day Issues in ‘1984’ By George Orwell
There exists a line that separates the world of fiction and the real-life society we live in. We seem to know to distinguish between the two worlds clearly through movies, television, or books with works of fiction such as superheroes, supernatural events, and mythical creatures. The novel named 1984 written by George Orwell is a fictional story that displays a world where the world is confined by war, governmental surveillance, and propaganda. Although it is a work of fiction, it fades the line that separates fiction from real-life with its issues and themes that apply to our world today. It seems that the two worlds are colliding as the manipulation of the media, persisting physical and mental stress and surveillance described by Orwell is also prevalent in the world we live in today. It may not be noticed, but Orwell’s clever depiction of the public’s influence in his book applies almost exactly to today.
Winston Smith lived in a country named Oceania that contained a single totalitarian dictator that his citizens call Big Brother. The country consists of a harsh application of constant propaganda to an extent where there is no turning back after its effects. To control the public’s image of the country, “Every record has been destroyed or falsified, every book has been rewritten, every picture has been repainted…the past is falsified…no evidence ever remains”. The idea of how the government and its citizens are altering what the public sees still exists today though in other forms such as social media, advertisements, and news. A social media app, Instagram is known for its negative impacts especially toward our teens through the unrealistic images it shares on body image, mental health, society, and more. Everyone is guilty is falsifying photos and texts that a British online newspaper named The Independent says is linked to depression, anxiety, and bullying (Blair). When Winston is captured from being caught with loving Julia, he goes through extreme torture by O’Brien. Two plus two equals four, but “the Party says that it is not four but five”, as this was one method that O’Brien used that brainwashed and “tortured [Winston] to the edge of lunacy”.
As we are continuously met with society’s false expectations or portrayals, people start to believe them. It is alike O’Brien attempting to “cure” Winston with information contrary to the truth. We are brainwashed by the depictions on the ideal body, self, and life that are not necessarily true.
The 1984 of today is happening right now. As more issues blow out in the world, the fires inside us are also burning. Inside and out, there is pain to encounter and overcome but many attempt to suppress it. Inside the Ministry of Love Winston is forced to learn, understand, and accept the ways of Big Brother. The physical and mental pain felt as if “his body was being wrenched out of shape, the joints were being slowly torn apart… He set his teeth and breathed hard through his nose, trying to keep silent”. Despite the various forms of torture he encountered such as psychological manipulations, beatings, and starvation, they did not strip away Winston’s spirit. He continues to protest against the sayings of O’Brien until the very end. This tolerance of pain during physical and mental struggles is all too common in our society today with political, social, or school as everyone learns to adapt and endure. However, this can also be negative with issues such as sexual abuse as Forbes Magazine shows that “many millions of women are being abused in the U.S. and beyond, and so many are turning a blind eye, or worse, helping to support its continuation by not taking a stand to speak up or fight against it” (Caprino). To be able to fight for what you believe in is a powerful trait that many of us have today, as well as Winston Smith who tried to rebel. O’Brien asks him if he is prepared to sacrifice his life, sanity, country, and Julia and he is because they are “enemies of the Party. [They] disbelieve in the principles of Ingsoc… are thought criminals”.
Sneaking behind his government to work against it lead to suffering but it was what he stood for. We can see people speaking up against issues and opening up about their opinions on their society; their voices can clearly be heard online or on the streets. Having the courage to fight and the belief that change is possible is the key link between the themes Orwell portrayed and today’s world. Although 1984 was written before the extensive modernization of the present, the systems of surveillance of today and of the book match. In Oceania, “it was terribly dangerous to let your thoughts wander when you were in any public place or within range of a telescreen. The smallest thing could give you away…to wear an improper expression on your face was itself a punishable offense. There was even a word for it in Newspeak: facecrime”.
The Party’s advanced forms of technology are found everywhere in order to keep their citizens under control. This intense surveillance is similar to today’s social media, CCTV, and all types of computers with their possible spying abilities. However, whether it is useful or not is still debatable. The New York Times presents two different sides saying that “too much surveillance… is detrimental and leaves people without any privacy in public.”, or that “a society with cameras everywhere will make the world safer and hold criminals more accountable for their actions” (Bilton). Moreover, Oceania’s surveillance also extends to its people.
Winston and Julia were betrayed by a man named Mr. Charrington who rented them the room for their secret meetings. He was revealed as a person of deception when Mr. Charrington changed his appearances to show Winston that “for the first time in his life he was looking, at a member of the Thought Police”. Winston mistakenly trusted this man, displaying how betrayal is hidden deep within Oceania by the Party. Surveillance is not only security cameras, cell phones, and social media, but the people all around us as well. Modern day is where technology meets human forces to create a massive system of surveillance together. The rich details presented in Orwell’s 1984 seem to diminish the distinguishing of the separation of fiction and reality by connections with the media’s forms of manipulation, perseverance through stress, and endless surveillance. It is a novel filled with issues and themes that continue to exist over time and outside of its fictional realm. George Orwell might as well have successfully predicted the future.
“1984” by George Orwell
The book 1984, by George Orwell, provides a in-depth description of a society that rejects individualism and the acceptance of reality and history. Within this book, George Orwell uses the story of Winston Smith to create an effective outline of the society in which he lives in. There is a total of seven psychological approaches that can be used to observe Winston Smith, including the behavioral, biological, cognitive, evolutionary, humanistic, psychodynamic, and sociocultural approach. Together, these approaches help to create a character profile of Winston Smith, analyzing how different factors determine how he behaves and thinks.
First, Winston Smith’s character can be analyzed through the behavioral approach, “an approach of psychology emphasizing the scientific study of observable behavioral responses and their environmental determinants.” (The Science of Psychology, page 9) This approach takes advantage of the society that Smith lives in and uses its features to determine how and why he acts in certain ways. Smith lives in a society that has a “Party” that forces the people of Oceania to believe everything that it tells them about. For example, Smith usually participates in an event called “the Hate,” which is the scolding of Emmanuel Goldstein, a traitor of the Party. (1984, page 11) Although he feels no hatred toward Goldstein, he automatically joins the rest of the Party members in scolding Goldstein for his rebellious ideas. Also, later in Smith’s story, he begs, to escape the torturing by O’Brien, to give the punishment to Julia, crying, “’Do it to Julia! I don’t care what you do to her! Not me!’”
Moreover, the biological approach is another aspect of psychology that can be used to analyze the character of Winston Smith. The biological approach is focused “on the body, especially the brain and nervous system.” (The Science of Psychology, page 8) It connects the influences of physical factors and genetics to the choice of actions by a person. For example, whenever Smith experiences anxiety or fear, he would feel pain or an aching feeling inside his stomach, in which is caused by the action of his brain and the neurotransmitters inside his body. Later on, when imprisoned in the Ministry of Love, he is constantly tortured and beaten for his crime. After experiencing many beatings, he attempts to move “his body this way and that in an endless, hopeless effort to dodge the kicks.” (1984, page 240) Towards the end of the story, Smith’s mind is affected by a physical factor or an action that was taken out towards him. He saw this “blinding flash of light” in which caused him to feel “as though a piece had been taken out of his brain.” (1984, page 257) Taking advantage of this time, O’Brien successfully “plugged in” the “correct” knowledge into the mind of Smith, telling him that two plus two equals five, that Oceania was at war with East Asia, etc.
Additionally, there is a cognitive approach, in which is “an approach to psychology emphasizing the mental processes involved in knowing; how we direct our attention, perceive, remember, think, and solve problems.” (The Science of Psychology, page 10) For example, during the beginning of Smith’s story, he recalls his dream of hearing “we shall meet in a place where there is no darkness.” He is certain that the voice that he hears in this dream is the voice of O’Brien. This is an example of how Smith uses his brain to remember things and to solve and answer questions. Also, Smith had dreams about his childhood, remembering his mother and his younger sister. Smith remembers his dreams and about his childhood causes him to constantly think of what had happened to his family and about what type of person he grew up to be like. Another aspect of the cognitive approach is the ability of a person to perceive. When Smith and Julia were caught by the Thought Police, he realized that there was a telescreen in the room. He also became aware that Mr. Charrington was really “a member of the Thought Police.”
Another psychological approach that can be used to analyze the character of Winston Smith is the evolutionary approach, in which is “centered on evolutionary ideas such as adaptation, reproduction and natural selection as the basis for explaining specific human behaviors.” (The Science of Psychology, page 10) In other words, this approach analyzes the environment in which Winston Smith lives in and uses the analysis to determine how and why he acts in certain ways. The most important aspect of Oceania that causes its people to act in certain ways is the Party, in which restricts the people from doing many things that would cause them to accept history, the past, individualism, etc. Smith was basically born in this type of society and was adapted to the ways in which the society functions. For example, he learns to be cautious about the things that he does because he understands that he is always monitored by a device called “the telescreen.” Furthermore, after he is imprisoned in the Ministry of Love for “thought crime,” Smith is forced, by O’Brien, to accept the ways of the Party, to love the Party, and to “love Big Brother.” (1984, page 282) The evolutionary approach shows how Winston Smith’s character was really shaped by the society in which he lived in and by the people that he was surrounded by, such as Big Brother and O’Brien.
A fifth psychological approach is the humanistic approach. The humanistic approach emphasizes “a person’s positive qualities, the capacity for positive growth, and the freedom to choose any destiny.” The humanistic approach is most effective when use to create a character profile of Winston Smith because George Orwell designed Winston Smith as a representation of freedom and democracy. Throughout the book, Smith demonstrates actions that are against the rejections of the Party, and that is for “the freedom to choose any destiny.” The most important example is Smith’s choice to buy and write in a journal that he bought at Mr. Charrington’s shop. Within the journal, he, through his inner conscious, wrote the phrase “down with Big Brother,” in which is a very rebellious thing to do in the city of Oceania. Just writing about his own thoughts in the journal is already an “illegal” thing to do with the existence of the Party. Another important example is Smith’s choice to be together with Julia and to meet with her secretly at different hideouts. Since Smith already has a wife, being together with Julia is definitely not allowed. Throughout the book, Smith also demonstrates the enforcing of freedom through his desire to join the “Brotherhood” and to believe valid facts, such as the fact that “two plus two equals four.”
Furthermore, the next approach, the psychodynamic approach, is “an approach to psychology emphasizing unconscious thought, the conflict between biological drives (such as the drive for sex) and society’s demands, and early childhood family experiences.” (The Science of Psychology, page 9) An important example is the biological drive of Winston Smith and Julia to be together and have sexual intercourse, during their secret meetings, despite the fact that the Party would not allow it at all. This situation is an example of a conflict between biological drives and society’s demands. When comparing biological drives and early childhood family experiences, Winston Smith also demonstrates this aspect of the psychodynamic approach. When he was a child, his family was not very rich and he often begged for more food, even though his mother and his younger sister were starving as well. During one time, he decided to steal his sister’s chocolate and to run away from his mother just because he “could not help it” and “felt that he had a right to do it.” (1984, page 162) Analyzing the character of Smith, using the psychodynamic approach, it can be seen that he grew to become a person that would do anything to satisfy his needs, even if it were against the opinions of others.
The last approach is the sociocultural approach, in which is “examines the ways in which social and cultural environments influence behavior.” This approach considers all the environmental factors that influence the behavior of Winston Smith, including the opinions of the people that surround him and the type of society in which he grew up in. Smith was born in a society with no individualism and freedom and has to be cautious about the things he does in case the Thought Police catch and kill him. Throughout the story, Smith has to be careful that he does not say or do anything that would be considered “thought crime,” such as writing in his journal or traveling alone to meet with Julia. One example of an event that he participates in to “blend in” with the rest of his society is “the Hate.” Although Smith does not feel hatred towards Emmanuel Goldstein and does not understand the purpose of the event, he continues to throw objects at the screen, in which shows Goldstein, and to scold Goldstein. Furthermore, he has also grown to be cautious of others who might be a member of the Thought Police or a member of the Brotherhood.
Using the seven psychological approaches to analyze the character of Winston Smith, in the society of Oceania, it can be seen that Winston Smith is a person that is very different from all others. Smith represents freedom; he is selfish and understands the relationship between the past, present, and future, etc. He stands out because he has a large capacity for positive growth, yet he is willing to surrender many things in order to protect himself from vanishing because of how different he is. He is clear of what his goals are, yet he is also uncertain of how he wants his life to turn out because of the society that he has lived in for all his life.
George Orwell’s Novel “1984”
In 2015, George Orwell’s novel “1984” entered the top of the best-selling books. It is called prophetic; it is still considered “a masterpiece of antitotalitarian thought” and a kind of bible anti-communists. About why this work is only an ideological product of the “cold war,” full of lies, clichés and unjustified hyperbolas, written down to the heap by a two-faced informer, but why this novel is still relevant today (Orwell 10-314). Until now, this book continues to excite the minds of the reading public, inspiring musicians and artists. Until now, having read it, young people begin to carry nonsense in the spirit of “socialism is slavery and totalitarianism!” Until now, Orwell himself is considered by many to be a brilliant analyst, master of the word and generally a prophet. The anti-Soviet (including the so-called “democratic socialists”) novel takes a worthy place on the shelf, while the fans of the USSR are ready to arrange its mass burning (Orwell 10-314). The expressions “Big brother follows you,” “newspeak,” “room 101” and others are used today everywhere – from journalism to memes. And still “1984” and today has an impact on the formation of the political thinking of society and therefore needs analysis and criticism (Tyson 1689–99).
As a young man, the Englishman George Orwell maintained revolutionary views close to Marxist. However, by the thirties, he was aware that the degeneration of the political system of the USSR was leading the country further and further from the ideas of socialism. In 1936, he took part in the Spanish Civil War as part of the detachments created by the Workers’ Party of the Marxist Union (POUM), who fought both against the fascist supporters of Franco and against the Stalinists (Orwell 10-314). Throughout the further biography of Orwell, his political views undergo a curious deformation. In the book Orwell and Anarchism, Nicholas Walter writes about the situation of the late 1940s: “Edward Morgan Forster considered him to be” a real liberal, “Fenner Brockway was a libertarian socialist, and Kirk was a left-wing Social Democrat. Orwell was both a socialist and an individualist. “In Soviet papers, he was identified as a” Trotskyite at some point this was indeed true. But if Trotsky, revealing the contradictions of the development of the Soviet Union and exposing the “traitors of the revolution” in the person of partocrats, did not lose confidence in the need to struggle for socialism and stood in the position of critical support of the USSR, Orwell gradually became skeptical and disappointed. This frustration has ended quite ugly. The writer, who was beating repressions, denouncing and ideological processing of the population in the Union, himself became a snitch and not the last important ideological machine.
There is an opinion that Orwell wrote this work “not about the USSR,” someone even sees here a criticism of Western capitalism. But, given the content of the novel, these versions, in my opinion, are untenable (Orwell 10-314). The world is divided between three totalitarian socialist superpowers – Oceania, Eurasia and Eastasia, which are constantly fighting with each other (Tyson 1689–99). They are fighting, as it turns out, not for victory, but for the sake of the process – to keep society tense and destroy surplus products, while maintaining a low standard of living for the population. The population is divided into several parts (Scoville 830–45). The disenfranchised inhabitants of the “disputed” regions between the powers are engaged in slave labor. Spills are an unruly majority, creating the main benefits of society. Members of the Outer Party – live a little better than the gaps, work in the ministries, relentless supervision follows them through devices that are ubiquitous everywhere – telecines. Finally, members of the Inner Party – the elite of society, it does not live as richly as the noble bourgeoisie of a bygone era, but they do not need it, as it turns out, because their goal is power for power. The latter is covered by the image of the powerful and mustached Big Brother. Well, you understand who his prototype became (Orwell 10-314).
In Oceania, where the action of the novel takes place, the dominant ideology is English socialism (which is Anastos), retaining only a purely conditioned connection with the Marxism from which it originated. The party holds the population in the strictest subordination, isolating the “infidels” even by gestures or expressions. Around ruin, a deficit, a ban on sexuality and pleasure. Around brainwashing and denunciation. Several ministries work to support universal control: the Ministry of Love is engaged in repression and surveillance, the Ministry of Peace is waging war, the Ministry of Abundance is poisoning people with hunger, the Ministry of Truth is conducting propaganda, is engaged in every minute falsification of documents, changing the past. At the top of the pyramid is Big Brother. The main enemy of the state is Emmanuel Goldstein, sketched from Trotsky. The main slogans: “Freedom is slavery,” “Ignorance is power,” “War is peace” (Scoville 830–45).
The main character, Winston Smith, is almost the last one who realized the flawedness of this system. He very successfully acquires a companion-debaucher Julia, seeking to release repressed sexuality. However, their upcoming riot ends pitifully – for Smith for seven years as untiringly watched, playing in “cat and mouse.” In the dungeons of the Ministry of Love, both are morally broken. As the main character of the book, Winston Smith (and here Orwell remembered his Marxist past), “all the hope for a breakthrough” (Thomas 419–44). Billions of workers around the world, with their physical and mental abilities creating the benefits of civilization, but regularly abused, stultified, oppressed – only they can change society for the better. The only question is that this time they should be even more conscious and organized than a hundred years ago – otherwise, then some new George Orwell will blame on some new Big Brother (Orwell 10-314).
It is necessary to live long enough in the West to see that democratic socialism is quite possible and that even – terrible dictum – Marx is not so terrible as it was smeared by Soviet diamonds. Marx in the West is respected as a sociologist who drew attention to the economic determinism of social phenomena – another example of the inevitable and in pure science operating reductivism; The Marxist myth of the proletarian messiah is of little concern to even the people who are genuinely concerned with the need to improve his life (among such people was Orwell). The proletarian in the West is an empirical phenomenon and not a metaphysical concept. We in the USSR, disbelieving in the proletarian myth, unwittingly engaged in building their mythology: our idea of the West was a real myth (Orwell 10-314).
Naturally, Orwell, who knew the western life first-hand, was far from idealizing this life. Among his other experiences was the experience of serving in the colonies, where he felt for the first time the injustice of many realities of the British world order, rightly called imperialism. He has a small text – an essay on “Murder of an elephant,” in which the physical reality of the direct experience demonstrates the colonial existence and psychology of people on both sides of the barrier that separates the ruling and the ruling. The colonies are not free, Orwell said, based on his own living experience (he served for five years as a police officer in Burma in 1922-27).
Orwell in this little essay was able, no more than to expose the myth of the burden of the white man. It took to kill the rabid working elephant, and all, naturally, expected that it would make a white man, a sag. The irony of the situation was that the elephant calmed down and peacefully grazed in a field – it was enough to wait for the missing master who would take him to the stall. But the position obliged: since you are a lord, so should behave accordingly, and the same expecting from you and grinning natives. Thus the entire system would suffer, based on a misconception of the superiority of white people over all others. The knightly code of conduct, in this case, demonstrated its meaninglessness. The elephant simply did not need to be killed; but how many such symbolic elephants – and real human lives – were sacrificed to dead dogmas, obsolete systems of the world order. Orwell demonstrated in this petty case that, dominating over others, a man himself becomes a slave. And again, it is curious to imagine how the sub-Soviet intellectual Westernizers would react to this text, whether he knew them at that time (Orwell 10-314).
It’s hard, of course, to forget the fact that Orwell’s books – his most famous works “1984” has provoked protests and even resentment from many Western socialists. These protests can be divided into two categories with a certain assumption: some did not allow the very possibility of associating with socialism the idea of a totalitarian society (the so-called “friends of the Soviet Union” sounded loudest here), the second category, much more numerous, consisted of people indignant at the fact that Orwell portrayed England as a totalitarian country, in which, by definition, this is impossible (Bounds n.p.).
The concept of socialism, given here by Orwell, emphasized the national character of socialism, regardless of his or her social group. For Marxism, there should be everyone who works for hire, who do not have an independent income and thus a guaranteed future. Socialism should give these guarantees. In essence, this is the program of the so-called welfare state, the welfare state, eventually implemented in Western Europe and many significant elements in the United States. Redistribution of income, that is, high taxes on the properties, did not pass the American society, although, of course, the structure of American life cannot be called socialist.
Against which in socialism from the very beginning was Orwell – this is against the sectarian tendencies in it connected with this or that doctrinal ideology (Bounds n.p.). This ideology, in particular, he considered Marxism. The enemies in the socialist movement for Orwell were and still are the Communists. He particularly strengthened himself in this position during the Spanish Civil War, witnessing how the government of Republican Spain, inspired by Soviet influence and under the direct leadership of the GPU emissaries, suppressed the movement associated with the POUM, an independent socialist group that was extremely popular among the broad masses. Associated with the POUM, Orwell himself almost became a victim of this purge. He tells this in detail in the book “Dedicated to Catalonia” (White 73–95).
Communism from the very beginning had no chance in Europe, and the Communist parties of different countries degenerated into advertising agents of the Moscow regime. Instead of pointing out that backward should be learned from the West, and not be an example to him, the Western Communists pretended that purges and executions in the USSR were a healthy phenomenon that any sane person considers an imitation for Europe. And that’s how he explained the book “The Scottish Farm,” which became his first bestseller in 1945:
The English, perhaps, are ready to carry out revolutionary changes in a bloodless way more than many other peoples. If where it becomes possible to destroy poverty without destroying freedom, it is in England. Attach the British efforts to make their democracy work; they would become political leaders of Western Europe and, possibly, of some other parts of the world. They could offer the desired alternative to authoritarianism, on the one hand, and American materialism on the other (Orwell 10-314). Analysis of the works of Orwell shows that he appealed to the principle of partisanship in two cases: first, to expose the claims of this or that figure to the supra-class objectivity; second, to justify specific practical solutions. In both cases, partisanship was understood not as a formal membership of a political party, but as a measure of the direction of the real activity of an individual, institution, or social organization. For Orwell’s highest manifestation of partisanship was the communist partisanship, which consisted in loyalty to Marxist teaching, strict adherence to the requirements of party regulations and current decisions of party leadership (Ingle 335–37).
Neologism “partisanship” appeared in work “1984” here Orwell contrasts the “objectivist” and the “materialist,” that is, the Marxist, and proves that the materialist is more consistent than the objectivist and more fully and more fully carries out his objectivism. This is followed by the famous words that materialism includes, so to speak, partisanship, obliging, in any evaluation of the event, to take a direct and open view of the point of view of a particular social group. So, the principle of partisanship appears as a methodological principle of scientific knowledge, like, say, the principle of historicism. The objectivist illusion of classlessness and non-partisanship is dismissed as hypocrisy and deception. True knowledge of social phenomena and processes, says Orwell, can be achieved only through the prism of Marxist party spirit; hence, the requirement for scientists, writers, and cultural workers to rely on their work as a methodological basis for Marxist ideology (Ingle 335–37).
The revolutionary charge of Marxism-Orwell’s was emasculated, and the dialectical theory was deliberately dogmatized. It is no accident that Stalin, Khrushchev, and Brezhnev declared themselves to be faithful to Orwell’s, constantly referring to the classics of Marxism-Orwell’s. The dogmatization of Marxism-Orwellism opens wide possibilities for manipulating public opinion and controlling ordinary consciousness. The control of ideology determines the control of social psychology, the control of public consciousness as a whole. A ready-made, simplified, emotionally taught and centrally-inculcated worldview is not only easily assimilated by the masses but also mobilizes them to act in the right direction.
The Importance of Winston and Julie’s Romantic Relationship in George Orwell’s 1984
In Orwell’s 1984, the government is in control of everyone and everything including relationships. Our protagonist, Winston, had to hide any and all feelings he had for others. Then he met Julie and all he could feel was hatred toward her conformist ways. He imagined brutally assaulting her and leaving her for dead. That is until Julie gave Winston a note confessing her love for him. Suddenly a romantic connection linked their stories leading them to an unfortunate end. Without this romantic affiliation there would be no 1984.
Winston and Julie’s relationship wasn’t wholeheartedly love. It was based on rebellion rather than emotion. We learn this when the two sneak off to a forest out of town, far from telescreens and microphones. Julie was an experienced guide. She had done this all before and knew the exact place and time for Winston to meet her so they could have some privacy. She was an expert and Winston was her student.
Soon Winston found a place closer to home to spend time with Julie. It became a second home to them. A place they could trust and that was void of a telescreen. They could have sex, take a nap, enjoy some tea or coffee, and just be together in their little rebellion. It was perfect to them, but that was about to change.
In their rebellion, Winston and Julie joined what they thought to be the brotherhood, the organization focused on revolting against Big Brother. It was an error on their judgement. While together in their safe haven, the two began to read the brotherhood’s book. They were found out and taken away to a prison. There, Winston and Julia were separated.
Days, weeks, possibly even months pass before Winston is taken to room 101. Here he begins conforming, in other words he begins to lose his love/lust for Julie. They return Winston to his cell and while dreaming he calls out Julia’s name. This convinces the reader that he may actually love her. He’s concerned for her and that is enough to get Winston sent back to room 101.
Rather than torture with pain they used Winston’s worst fear: rats. Between fear and love, fear is much stronger. Winston denounces his love for Julia and blames everything on her. He conforms and so his rebellious ways are done. He is soon released and sees Julia again. Seeing Julia leads him to a painful realization; she must have denounced him as well. This is the moment all his love is lost. Any hope for his rebellious spirit coming back is broken. Now he only loves Big Brother.
Winston and Julie’s love was rebellion. The longer they were together the stronger their free spirits became. By losing love they both conformed to Big Brother’s standards. Broken hearts meant broken spirits. Had there been no love story in 1984 there would be no story period.
Nazi Germany and Communist Russia in George Orwell’s 1984
George Orwell’s powerful and innovative novel, 1984, written in 1948, has been strongly influenced by the context of that time period. It makes an unavoidable comment on the damaging effects of totalitarianism, and illustrates how it adversely effects the society by mirroring the political change that was apparent, and highlighting what the future will become if ruled by tyranny. The context the time period 1984 was written in; more specifically that of Nazi Germany and Communist Russia, as well as a more modern context; more specifically North Korea and the new presidency in America, has enabled me to gain a higher understanding of the texts ideas of manipulation and power, and the harsh warning Orwell was giving about the future of the world under totalitarianism.
The 1930’s saw the rise in power for Nazi Germany, and the events that followed it has greatly influenced my understanding of Totalitarianism, and allowed me to fully realise the strong theme of power and manipulation that is present in the novel. During the proceedings of Nazi Germany, a common occurrence was the burning of books to prevent the spread of knowledge amongst the people. This has allowed me to fully understand the harmful effect of The Party’s constant changing in history to prevent a political uproar among the common people, and keep the loyal and inline. O’Brian states “He who controls the past controls the future” illustrating how the manipulation of history has been done to maintain and grow the Party’s hold on power, just as Nazi Germany used manipulation to continue and grow their power. Many tactics used by Hitler is seen being used by Big Brother in 1984. This includes; The manipulation of languages, anti-sex regimes, rations, and most importantly- the constant monitoring of the people through intimidating and fear inducing figures. 1984 used the Thought Police as a reflection of Nazi Germany using the Nazis. These comparisons, and the context it provides, illustrates to me that the key idea of 1984 was to warn people of the dangers of a totalitarian society, and the impact it would have on the world.
Before writing 1984, George Orwell acted as a police officer in Russia. There, he witnessed many horrors that eventually led him to writing a novel warning the world of what the future entailed. This understanding of context has allowed me to recognise the idea of control and power presented in the novel. The 1930’s saw a rise in technology used for monitoring a societies every move. It was used to enable the Government to have full control over the people, as they were constantly watched. This is directly reflected in 1984, by the use of telescreens to monitor Winston, as well as the rest of the Party Members 24/7. Winston states “The telescreen with its never-sleeping ear. They could spy upon you night and day, but if you kept your head you could still outwit them” this illustrates how far the government was prepared to go to have complete control over the entirety of the population. During the 1930’s in Russia, approximately 78% of the money was held by 2% of the population. This is reflected in 1984, by the stark differences in classes- the proles, who have nothing, the outer party who have a little, and the inner party who own everything. This context enables me to realise the idea of class, as well as how money- or more specifically the lack of, can be used to control a population and increase ones power. The context of 1930’s Russia allows me to compare and contrast values and attitudes of a real totalitarian government with that of the fake one in 1984, enabling me to clearly see the idea that totalitarian must be destroyed at all costs.
Despite 1984 being written in 1948, it IS still possible, as well as plausible to compare the ideas presented in the text with the context of our modern society to gain a greater understanding of the text. Currently the world is at a constant threat of a nuclear war with North Korea, and must watch as the human values and attitudes of America a torn down and replaced with the inhumane and dictator like ones being believed by the new president Donald Trump. America is beginning to transition into a Nazi like super power and turn into a totalitarian government. The values and attitudes of Trump allow me to realise the key ideas of manipulation of language and power presented in 1984. The meaning of the character Julie is magnified when compared to the current values of America. She is only prepared to fight for her own pleasure rather than for the well-being of other people, and this is a reflection of the beliefs of the current American people. Winston States “you’re only a rebel from the waist”, down illustrating Julius selfish nature and coupled with current events allow me to recognise the idea of false hope and selfishness of a population presented in 1984. The totalitarian like government present in both North Korea and America have enabled for the idea of the harmful effect of totalitarianism on a population to become apparent, as well as how power and language is manipulated in the novel 1984.
1984 is a novel that hints at the decay of the future under the rule of totalitarianism governments. It is a comment on totalitarianism and highlights the fall of society if we succumb to it. 1984 was inspired by the political context of Nazi Germany and Russia, and is still able to be used to make a common and dictatorship in tyranny in our more modern Society. The use of old and new context has enabled me to understand the texts ideas of manipulation and power and it’s apparent warning about the future of the world under the rule of totalitarianism.
Brave New World & 1984
After reading a novel by authors George Orwell and Aldous Huxley, I have come to the conclusion that Huxley made the most realistic prediction for the future, in his book entitled Brave New World. He predicted a futuristic society in which people have their individuality stripped and their sexuality mandated by the government. In addition, they live in a conformist society that is based on consumerism. The biggest thing that Huxley focused on however, was a corrupt society. He predicted sexual freedom, brainwashing, the over-use of harmful drugs, and a population too large to equally accommodate all inhabitants. It is to be thought of as the most perfect society, yet the harsh reality reveals that it is the perfect example of a dystopia. Huxley wrote this book as a way to warn us of the future to come, and although we do not live in a futuristic society like the people of London in his book, in 2018 we still hold all of the components of his fictional dystopia.
“There will be, in the next generation or so, a pharmacological method of making people love their servitude, and producing dictatorship without tears, so to speak, producing a kind of painless concentration camp for entire societies, so that people will in fact have their liberties taken away from them, but will rather enjoy it”. This statement made by Huxley in his work can be applied to the society and government that is currently in place in North Korea. The regime has been able to turn corruption into strength and stability, under the dictatorship of Kim Jong Un. The country has a million-man army defending them and their strong and seemingly nationalistic citizens. The people of the country have to show nothing but the highest respect and admiration for their leader, or else they will be forced into political prison or concentration camps. North Korea is a society that is enslaved, and far from open. If a member of King Jong Un’s regime finds a citizen to be speaking badly of or showing disrespect, they will enact punishments onto them. Even executions can be ordered. This is to make it seem as if the nation is not under criticism.
Relating back to Huxley’s quote, although Un hasn’t used a pharmacological method to control his people, he has used something debatably more powerful; fear. The people of North Korea have had their liberties taken from them, but they do not speak of it because they afraid of the punishment that would follow. Under the rule of this dictator, humans have given up their freedom in order to remain “on the good side” of their leader so to speak. In addition, children in North Korea are taught at an early age to look at their leader with great respect and affection. He should hold the power equal to God in their minds. He is brainwashing the children, so that when they grow up they are easier to control. The real feelings of the people are oppressed, as they do not matter in their dictators eyes. He is power hungry, and has created a society in which people submitted themselves to his servitude. In Huxley’s book, Brave New World, scientific and technological advances have created a society in which everybody subjects themselves to following each rule and regulation. A hypothetical drug called SOMA is used frequently, in order for people to enter a holiday in which they are unconscious yet conscious in a paradise, at the same time. By taking this, they are in fact stripping themselves of their liberties, and enjoying it.
“People will come to love their oppression, to adore the technologies that undo their capacities to think” (Aldous Huxley). In Brave New World, the government provides the people with a drug called SOMA, which allows them to completely escape the realities of their pain, distress, and anger and turn it into emotions and feelings of happiness and pleasure. They are “adoring the technologies that undo their capacities to think” through this drug. They inflict pleasure onto themselves, and by doing so, are subjecting themselves to being completely controlled by their government. The members of this futuristic society have found a way to embrace their oppression, as it is who they are. Since they were created scientifically, in a lab, they have never had a real sense of who they are. People’s futures and careers are predetermined by scientists in a lab. They go through their whole lives without complaining, as they believe that this is their destiny. They are completely oppressed and silenced, yet obey their government and still continue to be joyous and prosper in their consumer-based society.
This idea can be connected to today, in America. Citizens are blindly subjecting themselves to horrendous oppression, yet they adore it. These people have given power to a man who doesn’t have nearly the qualifications to be president, and although he is seen as charismatic, it is in more of a class-clown type of way. So, then why do the American people subject themselves to be ruled under this man, in complete oppression? The answer could be many things but one possibility is that they are hoping for change. They hope that Trump can do all these amazing things in the future, like he said he was going to. So, the people suffer through the questionable comments and decisions he has made in his term, because they believe it is going to be alright in the end,. However, bny doing so, they have unknowingly oppressed themselves to him. Just like the people in Brave New World submit themselves to pleasure, the American people submit themselves to pain, in order to be controlled.
“There is no swifter route to the corruption of thought than through the corruption of language” (George Orwell). In 1984, George Orwell states that “there is no swifter route to the corruption of thought than through the corruption of language.” In this book, a main focus is on a newly formed language entitled “Newspeak.” It was formulated by the totalitarian overlords of Oceania, as well as overseer Big Brother. The main purpose of creating this new language was to eliminate free speech as well as free thought for all citizens. The people of Oceania are so controlled to the point where they are constantly watched through telescreens, on edge because of the thought police, and can’t even express themselves as a new language strips them of their freedom of speech. They have been absolutely corrupted through language. As Orwell stated, through this corruption of language, the government is able to actually corrupt their thought, resulting in complete domination of the people. Every aspect of their lives are watched and controlled by the government, and fictional guardian known as Big Brother.
In American society today, free speech can be seen as one of the most valuable laws that we have in place. Americans are allowed to voice their opinions, petition the government, and practice their own religions without oppression. The quote given by George Orwell shows just how fast our society would deteriorate, if free speech and thought weren’t so highly valued. We can see, in 1984 just how corrupt a society is where the people can not think or say what they want to, because it goes in contrast with the government. Nowadays, America would crumble to pieces if people couldn’t fight for what they wanted, and share their opinions. Of course, there are other countries around the world that do not have this right, such as Libya, Eritrea, and Uzbekistan. However, there are many, many more. Arguably, a country can not properly function if the people can not stick up for what they believe in. 1984 shows us that, and so does this quote. If we were to have our language taken away, we would soon after have our thoughts stripped from us as well.
“Whoever controls the image and information of the past determines what and how future generations will think; whoever controls the information and images of the present determines how those same people will view the past.” “He who controls the past commands the future. He who commands the future conquers the past” (George Orwell). In this quote by George Orwell, he is explaining how the ways that the government controls the past determines what the future generations to come will be taught and believe. The government has full control over all history. They rewrite history very frequently, in order to preserve the nation as a great and prosperous one.
Eventually, it will be impossible to know which events in history actually happened, and which ones were fabricated by the government. In addition, the Party members who are doing such things also have control over the future of events. They can predict events, and if the rulings don’t align with their predictions, they can simply rewrite it and alter history. This same idea can unfortunately be connected to the way that China twists their own history, to this very day. The majority of Chinese high school students are taught that the only wars their country ever fought were in self-defense. This is not true of course, because of the invasion of Tibet in 1950 as well as the Vietnamese war in 1979.They’re idea of teaching is simply “facts”, and not explaining why. They want their students to see China as the perfect country, by omitting the terrible historical events.
The Traits of Dystopian Literature in 1984, The Censors, and Harrison Bergeron
Dystopian literature is often defined as a fictional genre that depicts the society to be unfair and setting. Dystopian literature has been around for a while now. Dystopian literature usually depicts the future of society, whether it’s the lives of the citizens or the overall control of the government. Characterization is defined as is the act of creating and developing a character. Characters in the dystopian genre develops all throughout the story just like any novel. Lastly, setting is the time and place of the action of a literary work. This is an important aspect in dystopian literature, the setting helps with the overall genre of dystopian literature and the character development. These traits can be seen in several literary works such as 1984 by George Orwell, The Censors by Luisa Valenzuela, and Harrison Bergeron by Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. The traits help us see similarities and differences between novels.
In the novel, 1984, the author depicts their characters society as a totalitarian society. This is where the government has total control over every aspect of the citizens. The government in this novel is called The Party and they constantly watching and monitoring the citizens as well as control what they think and say. This can be seen in the beginning of the novel, in which Winstons describes his way to work and he sees a propaganda poster. ” On each landing, opposite the lift shaft, the poster with the enormous face gazed from the wall. It was one of those pictures which are so contrived that the eyes follow you about when you move. Big Brother Is Watching You.” (Orwell, 5) Since so much monitoring going on in the city, no one is really themselves. The citizens go with the flow of things so they will not get in trouble with the party. Winston also does conforms in the beginning of the story, although he does agree with the rules that are set in place.This behavior can also be seen in the short story, Harrison Bergeron by Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. One of the main characters in the short story decides to deal with the government rules so he does not get in trouble with them. Therefore he conforms to the government’s rules. For example it says in the short story, ‘If there was just some way we could make a little hole in the bottom of the bag, and just take out a few of them lead balls. Just a few.’ ‘Two years in prison and two thousand dollars fine for every ball I took out,’ said George. ‘I don’t call that a bargain.’ (Vonnegut, 2) Winston and George from both novel and the short story both show the traits of conformity in both texts due to the power that the government has over the citizens.
Rebellion is a prominent aspect of dystopian literature, it also appears in the short stories The Censors and Harrison Bergeron. The main character is usually the one who rebels and they usually are against the government. For example in the short story, The Censors, Juan tries to get a job at the censors bureau. ” He applied simply to intercept his own letter, an idea none too original but comforting.” (Valenzuela, 264) In their society they are not allowed to think or write what they want because it goes against the rules. If they go against that that can be killed. This is very similar to the short story Harrison Bergeron. Harrison Bergeron did not agree with the government control over the city. With this being said, he decided to break out of prison and overthrow the government. When he “overthrew the government”, he took off all the handicaps that was on him. Once again, both characters in the short stories have rebellious traits that help with the ideas of dystopian literature.
Setting also helps with the overall structure of the dystopian genre. Settings in dystopian genre are very similar through some novels. Whether it be in the future, during war, or even a totalitarian society. The society in which George from Harrison Bergeron, and Winston from 1984 is meant to be seen as the future. Harrison Bergeron takes place in 2081 and 1984 was takes place in 1984, although it was written in 1949. Both stories convey the idea of what might the future might be like with the government. Since both novels takes place in the future, the government has more control due to the technological advances that have been made. With this they have new ways to control the lives of the people within the city. Both stories have technological advances that control what the people say and think. In the beginning of the short story Harrison Bergeron, one of the main characters, George, is affected by a handicap cap, “And George, while his intelligence was way above normal, had a little mental handicap radio in his ear. He was required by law to wear it at all times. It was tuned to a government transmitter. Every twenty seconds or so, the transmitter would send out some sharp noise to keep people like George from taking unfair advantage of their brains.” (Vonnegut, 1). Although Winston does not a physical setback, he does have one that affects his whole community. That specific setback is a telescreen, which is a monitor that constantly their lives. Whether that meant watching them, listening to them, or both. For example, ” Any sound that Winston made, above the level of a very low whisper, would be picked up by it; moreover, so long as he remained within the field of vision which the metal plaque commanded, he could be seen as well as heard.” (Orwell, 6). Both Winston and George faced disadvantages of the future government advances on a daily basis.
Dystopian literature have various traits that contributes to the structure of the genre. Characters are sometimes rebellious or they may even conform to the laws given by the government. The setting can be a totalitarian society and set in the future. With these traits it helps the authors convey the idea of conformity and government control that we see in this genre. This is how many can find similarities in books within this genre.
The Genre of Dystopia in Nineteen Eighty-Four and The Hunger Games
Are there frequent reoccurrences of motifs and or themes found throughout dystopian literature that can be considered ‘classical dystopian’? To quote Mourby, “as long as human beings have been able to conceive of the future they seem to have been able to imagine things turning out badly”. In the nature of mankind, it seems that for every optimistic tendency, there is a counter balance. Whether that counter is one of satire or one of great concern depends on the outlook of the author expressing the piece. These counters are often portrayed in literature as a way of passing down the thought and fears of those alive at the time. These tales written in a cautious fear of the future are referred to as “Dystopian” or that the characters are living in a “dystopia”. The root of the word “dystopia” comes from “dys – and – topia –from the Greek for ‘bad’ and ‘place’ and so we use the term to describe an unfavorable society” (Adams).
However just because a society may seem in a conventional sense of “bad” it does not inherently mean post-apocalyptic. St. John the Divine, often referred to as the first great dystopian, “devoted eighteen chapters of his revelation to the day of judgement when the seventh seal is broken” (Mourby). In this revelation he speaks of awful acts happening to mankind in the future such as storms of fire and hell. This fear of what is to come is very much in line with the concerns of dystopian works. However relevant, dystopian literature does not always have to reflect such catastrophic outcomes. It can simply be “characterized as fiction that presents a negative view of the future of society and mankind” (Chung).
Often a major component of creating a dystopian society is due to the government imposing upon the natural rights of its citizens. In these societies, things have become controlled and restricted. Dystopian to their core, these societies then pass themselves off as being a “Utopia” or a society in which everything is perfect. Every era in mankind’s existence has had some form of authority present, and someone in contrast to critique them. Because of these commonalities, certain parallels can be drawn throughout dystopian literature. Three of the most influential aspects of a classical dystopian novel – control over an oppressed people, a rebel protagonist that intends to topple the oppressor, and finally the critiquing of social norms or ideologies most prevalent during the author’s life – are exemplified in the novels Nineteen Eighty-Four, by George Orwell, and The Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins.
First and foremost, there are several distinctive features that can constitute the dystopian subgenre. The Greek routes for dystopia translate into “bad place”. The dystopian world or society that is often written about is one that has the government in controls something that is often seen as an inherent right or something that is ideally available. What truly distinguishes a dystopia is the point of view of any given person. For example, a society where the creation of babies is not allowed could be considered dystopian if an individual desires a child. However, to another person who does not wish to have children would view this rule as irrelevant to their life. Often times “this oppression frequently is enacted by a totalitarian or authoritarian dictator” (Adams) wherein one person has total rule of a vast majority. However, there are several others including “corporate, bureaucratic, technological, moral control” that a society can use to oppress its citizens, (Chung).
The coincidence that dystopian novels often take place in apocalyptic settings is only so that the government can easily control the populous, where the “mastery of nature” occurs. In this the scenery is so harsh that it has “become barren or turns on humankind” (Chung), making life outside of where the governments control unlivable. Living standards are often determined by whatever the government needs of its citizens. This can be done by “the mandatory division of people into castes or groups with specialized functions” (Chung) in a “divide and conquer” method. If the multiple groups are kept separate then there is a divide in society, making it easier for the government to regulate uprisings and other acts of rebellion from their dominions. The predicting of such bleak events of the future draws on the individual’s “fewer that humans would become reduced to cogs in a social machine” (Mourby). In this machine, the ruling body handicaps its members by withholding information, and making information uneasily attainable. What furthers this divide amongst the public is the result of citizens being kept in the dark.
However, the masquerading of these political powers as being benevolent causes the public to become volatile and seek an end to their oppression. These uprisings can be against the government or can simply turn into an anarchical state in which chaos ensues. For many dystopian novels, the plot revolves around a sole protagonist and the struggles that the protagonist face throughout the work(s). Additionally, “in a dystopian story, society itself is typically the antagonist” (Adams) attempting to stop the progress of the protagonist. This protagonist often “feels trapped and is struggling to escape” (Chung) from the oppression in under they live. They at times can see through the so-called “veil” the government projects, to see the truth that they are hiding. Once this is seen by the character becomes curious, they begin to internally ask questions about the morality of the society in which they are in. Another trait that these protagonists have is the development of a love interest. This love interest can often times be the downfall or the success of their cause. To free themselves, their families, and the ones they love, they attempt to expose the hidden flaws to the public in hopes to incite a rebellion. The outcome of these exposures potentially lead to the protagonist becoming a martyr, but can alternatively free the people.
One of the crucial parts found in dystopian literature is the critiquing of a social norm, or prediction of the future that the author sees. Often times dystopian literatures comment on such topics “makes it ‘the zeitgeist of the times’” (Ames 3). The author writes these pieces as a social commentary to expose the truth or open their reader’s eyes to a new perspective. An author decides what is to be vilified and what is to be heralded as the morally just. Often times authors will not agree with a certain government or ruling that they witness during their lifetimes. They then will affiliate a character with “no depth, vulnerability, history, or context that acts as a foil for the protagonist” in their story to that particular side (Spisak). That aligned character then becomes the villain to oppress the citizens of a given setting by using propaganda, or even monitoring. However, dystopias can be written with less serious connotations, as they can simply address minor issues such as reality television or a new social fad. Even though the pages are fiction, in some way they connect to the real world situations during which they were written.
Comparison of Novels
In light of these revelations of dystopian characteristics, one such novel that seemingly follows these guidelines is Nineteen Eighty-Four, by George Orwell. The novel is set in the dreary post-apocalyptic nation of Oceania, in what was once London, now Airstrip-One. The scenery is a “gray, gritty, depressing London of shortages, inconvenience, ruined buildings and occasional rocket bombs” (Gardner) wherein the government is in total control of everyday life. For this reason, famous publisher Frederic Warburg stated “This is amongst the most terrifying books I have ever read” (Gardner). In many falsehoods, the nation of Oceania has been at war for much of its existence, with a constantly changing enemy and ally. War has simply become a “constant fact of daily life” (Agathocleous) for party members and proles alike found scattered throughout the city. The novel follows the protagonist Winston Smith, and chronicles his day-to-day life navigating the painfully mundane.
Correspondingly, the novel The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins also follows similar structure found in a classic dystopian work. The novel now takes place in the war ravaged and starving nation of Panem. Prior to the formation of this country, the nation of Panem was known as The United States of America. Likewise, to Nineteen Eighty-Four, the totalitarian government, centered in ‘the Capitol’ run by President Snow, antagonizes the novel. While the citizens may have somewhat more freedom than those in Oceania, life is still far from ideal. It is described as “a narrative that shows young people competing to the death against each other” (Garrett) wherein twenty-three adolescents are broadcast to be murdered every year. Issued by the government, the Hunger Games are the government’s solution for public penance for previous rebellions. The storyline follows one such young girl, named Katniss, and her perilous task at overthrowing the government and surviving the games.
The control of the government in Nineteen Eighty-Four is so absolute, that it dictates how each individual lives his or her life down to the amount of exercise they receive in the morning. Workers are issued various rations for things in their lives to sustain them. Such things rationed varied from toiletries to even a weekly chocolate ration. Direct lies are given to the people as reported in the book, “The Ministry of Plenty promised that there would be no reduction of the chocolate ration. Actually the chocolate ration was to be reduced from thirty grammes to twenty grammes” (Orwell 36). However, this instance of rationing supplies is not the only liberty the government robs in Nineteen Eighty-Four. Another such way the government sees to dictate the public is by the degradation of sex. In the novel such organizations such as the “Junior Anti-Sex League” which works to maintain the overall abstinence of the nation. To quote Winston, ‘Sexual intercourse was to be looked on as a slightly disgusting minor operation, like having an enema.’ (Orwell 65) wherein sexual acts are done for procreation exclusively.
In similar fashion to the lies about rations, the government provides many deceptions in numerous instances. As previously stated, war has simply become a fact of everyday life. However, places such as the Ministry of Truth work to “support the Party by publishing lies that cover up the states abusive methods” (Agathocleous 91), by falsifying documents change the past. Therefore, every so often, the enemy of Oceania will change to one of the other two super powers in the world, and documents will be forged to state that Oceania had always been at war with the power they feuded with. Because of this, no regular citizen can validate what is fact and what is fabrication made by the state. One such major occurrence brought up, is the creation of a historical figure for boost in morale. Given the special Order of Conspicuous Merit, Second Class, the exploits of Comrade Oglivy were broadcast to all of Airstrip One. Even though he had never existed, “he would exist just as authentically, and upon the same evidence, as Charlemagne or Julius Caesar” (Orwell 48).
In comparison, in The Hunger Games the government has a significant control over the population, however the major focus in this novel is on food. Food is rationed throughout Panem’s twelve districts, but it is far from sufficient to sustain a single person, let alone the families present. The twist on this form of rationing is that there is a lottery system known as “The Reaping” where an individual between the ages of twelve and eighteen are allowed to enter as many times as they want, for a chance of more food. However, what comes along with this is an even higher chance of being chose for the annual sport of killing known as the Hunger Games, wherein two children, one male and one female, are chosen from each district to compete. They are then pitted against one another to the death in an arena broadcast to the entire nation “so that those they love can have enough to eat” (Garrett). The purpose of these games is “the Capitol’s way of reminding us how totally we are at their mercy” (Collins 20).
Moreover, to keep the citizens in a desperate mindset for food, hunting has been deemed illegal and the wilderness is fenced off. Fenced off for the purpose of “keeping the flesh-eaters out of District 12” (Collins 5) it also prevents the citizens inside of the fencing to venture out and seek out other food options. Law that no one should exit this fencing is maintained by a brutal police force ironically referred to as the “peacekeepers.” However, some serve as direct foils to this law and escapes through the fence when it is not electrified, to hunt game like squirrels and deer. The vigilante hunters act another source of food in hopes that some do not have to risk their lives, but do not make much impact. Because most in districts with higher numbers are poor, they are forced to enter their names multiple times into the reaping, in hopes of earning enough food to provide for their families.
In addition to the rationing of foods and lying, the citizens of Oceania in Nineteen Eighty-Four are prohibited from leaving the nation, and are not encouraged to mingle amongst the caste system. Separated for the tasks of doing jobs Oceania consists of the Inner Party, the Outer Party, and the Proles. The Inner Party is “limited to six million, or something less than two percent of the population of Oceania” (Orwell 208) and functions as the brain of the government under Big Brother. The Inner Party wields the majority of the power, while constituting the smallest group, capable of sending secret police known as the Thought Police silence uprisings and potential threats to Big Brother. Then the Outer Party works in the various ministries. They are “made harmless by allowing them to rise” (Orwell 209) through the ranks, however always being excluded from the upper echelon of decision-making. Finally, there are the Proles who are seen as lesser, composing the vast majority of the people. As Orwell stated “Animals and Proles are free” signifying the level at which they are held in the eyes of Party members.
Similarly, the citizens of Panem, suffer from the district system in which large chunks of the nation are divided, under the dominion of the Capitol. Kept separate for fear of rebellion and also divided to serve their direct function. Various districts have “principal industry” such as “District 11, agriculture. District 4, fishing. District 3, mining” (Collins 66). In this same way that the districts serve purposes, they also earn a ranking amongst the caste system. The higher the district, the lower their social ranking and wealth with District 12 being the poorest. The hierarchy begins with the Capitol where the rich live and the governing body, President Snow resides. The Capitol profits all materials collected by the districts, so that they may live their lavish lifestyles.
To act as the foil to the all-powerful government in Nineteen Eighty-Four, Winston Smith is a thirty-nine-year-old worker of the Outer Party, working to serve Big Brother and the Party. Working for the Ministry of Truth, his job is to “support the Party by publishing lies that cover up the state’s abusive methods” (Agathocleous 91) where he assists the party and their fallacies by forging and replacing documents day in day out. However, Winston as an example protagonist feels trapped and wishes to escape the status quo and live a life of sex and enjoyment. One day at work, he encounters a younger girl whom dresses in the Junior Anti-Sex League sash. Upon further rendezvous with the woman, it is revealed that her name is Julia, and that she too hates the government. Julia functions as Winston’s love interest for the duration of the book. Together Winston and Julia attempt to join an underground group, The Brotherhood, dedicated to overthrowing the Party and Big Brother. Through deceit from fellow Party member O’Brien, Winston and Julia meet their demise and are convicted of their wrong doings. They are taken to Room 101 where there is “the worst thing in the world” (Orwell), where finally Winston Smith meets one of the true protagonist outcomes, and becomes the martyr. Forced to “love Big Brother”, Winston fails to end the dystopian government he attempted to stop.
Likewise, the protagonist of The Hunger Games, Katniss Everdeen, seeks to be freed from the bindings of her unfair government. Upon the day of the Reaping and her sister, Prim, are entered into the annual drawing. Katniss is a sixteen-year-old girl from District 12 from the part of “the Seam, usually crawling with coal miners” (Collins 4). Upon Prim being chosen to enter the games, Katniss instead volunteers and takes her place as tribute. Throughout the novel Katniss refuses to follow the rules the Capitol sets forth for her, whether that be in training, or during the games themselves. A bond is formed between Katniss and the male from her District, Peeta Mellark, so that they have a better chance at survival. However, Peeta soon becomes the functioning love interest for the protagonist that assists on her journey. After surviving the carnage that occurred in the games and angering the Capitol by not playing the game, Katniss seemingly wins alongside Peeta. This is true until the game makers go back on a previously stated rule allowing both to win. In a final act of defiance Katniss attempts suicide with Peeta as she recalls, “The berries have just passed my lips when the trumpets begin to blare” (Collins 345). Frantically the government, rather the games end in suicide, declare both Peeta and Katniss victors, and thus Katniss becoming a symbol of hope among the public known as the Mockingjay. This leads to the eventual downfall of the tyrant President Snow. Katniss Everdeen succeeds as a protagonist, where Winston Smith fails.
Real World Events
Continuing in the fashion of dystopian characteristics, Nineteen Eighty-Four was written by George Orwell to reflect the current events and his own personal views. Written in 1949, a year still recovering from the savagery of Second World War, Orwell commented on those ideologies favored by the Axis Powers. All of Orwell’s “serious work had been written directly, or indirectly against totalitarianism and democratic socialism” (Gardner 63), including Nineteen Eighty-Four. For this reason, the oppressors in the novel often relate to real world systems or people. To attack a major instance of totalitarianism, Orwell took aim at the Fascist regimes growing in Europe at the time. The government was “to be reproduced almost exactly in the novel” (Gardner 109) to show the public the threat Orwell felt they presented. Orwell himself once “described Nineteen Eighty-Four as “a satire”” (111 Gardner) of the political views he did not agree with. A parallel between the government in the novel and real world was the total worship of a leader. Another target Orwell took aim at was the Communist leader Joseph Stalin, who had ruled Russia with an iron fist of totalitarianism. Orwell portrayed Stalin’s own actions of falsifying history to suit his agenda in similar fashion to the Ministry of Truth’s primary function.
Coupled with real life events in Nineteen Eighty-Four, The Hunger Games is also tied to real events as a true dystopian work. Collins penned the novel in very recent year 2008, thus most of the comments she makes are still relevant in current times. During the time in which she authored the novel the United States was experiencing financial hardships. To reflect this she sought for The Hunger Games to be “a powerful metaphor for the Great Recession” (Garrett), the event which drastic economic decline happened in December of 2007. While slowly recovering from the recession, another point Collins makes is more of the social aspect. Suzanne Collins “intended The Hunger Games to satirize our culture, where we watch ‘real life’ on TV” (Garrett). With multitudes of television networks devoted solely to the idea of reality television, and on air personalities, Collins attempts to expose that there is a problem with this. She highlights this with having the characters in her story fight to the death in a cruel battle for food, and then having it broadcast as a spectacle. The concept stems from the idea that “if the people are entertained, they are less likely to rise up” (Garrett), implying that the ways in which we are being entertained is to sedate the public for compliance.
In the final analysis, the novels Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell, and The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins exhibit characteristics of “classical” dystopian literature. They show these in the various examples of a corrupt government rationing a certain supply, being divided by caste system, and by relating to current events at the time in which they were written. The significance of the presence of these traits is that it shows there actually is a format that is often followed by dystopian literature that does not depend on time. The two novels cross-examined in the findings of this paper possess a time difference of almost sixty years between releases. Yet, there are still very prominent parallels between both their plots, and governments. What can be said about these parallels is that “dystopian fiction seems to answer a need in us that goes deeper than any response” (Mourby) that we actually enjoy to contemplate these fictions.
Additionally, through the investigation of this paper it is clear that “such narratives play upon unresolvable fears from reality” (Ames), and those fears which go to the core of humanity, is the fear of being stripped of one’s free will. Those fears are exacerbated when situations turn gruesome politically, financially, or even socially. Just as fears of the Second World War brought a flow of dystopian novels forth during its time period, so too did fears of war and recession in more recent times. When concerns grow, authors feel the need to warn others of imminent threats or potential paths that humankind could take that would ultimately be negative. The dystopian subgenre serves as the public’s escape from realties they are afraid of and cannot defeat singlehandedly.