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1984 - GEORGE ORWELL
Transcript of 1984 - GEORGE ORWELL
The only three characters we learn enough about to analyze their characters are Winston (the protagonist) Julia (Winston's girlfriend), and O'Brien.
JESSICA DE GOUW as JULIA
1984 - GEORGE ORWELL
Ben Lange - English 12 Learn@Home
The point of view in 1984 is third person, limited omniscient. Since 1984 is the story of a period in Winston’s life we only know the information that he has. If he is confused about something going on in society so are we. At some point in the book I had the feeling as if I slipped into Winston’s body and I was captivated by his
POINT OF VIEW
The three main themes in the novel are; Brainwashing (psychological control), the control of current information and history, and abusing technology.
While George Orwell was more referring to the third reich in Germany and the communism in Russia, a dictatorship as described in the book can now be seen in North Korea. Like in the governmental system in the book the North Korean government has the control about everything. Especially brainwashing can be seen in the North Korean regime. As Lee Hyun-ji stated in an interview for the Washington Post “In gym class, there was a wooden target of a human figure with pale skin and a huge nose, with “cunning American wolf” written on it. Lee and her young schoolmates would practice their throwing with a wooden grenade.”. This exact thing can be seen in 1984 with “The League of Spies”. One passage in the book that describes it very well can be found on pages 30-31. “With those children, he thought, that wretched woman must lead a life of terror. Another year, two years, and they would be watching her day and night for symptoms of unorthodoxy. [...] the Spies were systematically turned into ungovernable little savages, and yet this produced in them no tendency whatever to rebel against the discipline of the Party.” In both, the North Korean Regime and in 1984 children are used to be turned against their parents and the western culture because they are being psychologically manipulated.
Control of Information and History
In 1984 the information the citizens get is completely controlled by the Party. The history books have also been rewritten. It is remarkable how much that can make a difference. Winston’s job is to censor all the news and filter them by what is “appropriate” and what isn’t. In the modern world the same thing is happening. The only difference is that it is directly done by the editor. The “facts” the media tells us are real, are all clouded. We still get a version of the story, but after all it is only one of many versions. The way things are phrased, the way they are portrayed, and the way news are presented to us make such a difference in how we will build our opinion on that topic. And nobody should ever forget that most newspapers are also a business and their goal is to sell a lot of copies, so once a public opinion is built on an issue they will most likely “feed the crowd” and continue showing us the things that support our beliefs.
The abuse of technology as it is described in the book can be seen in many ways nowadays. Since 1984 is set in London the London “security system” will be discussed. In an article from the Security Newsdesk the British Security Industry Association (BSIA) states that they have 5.9 million security cameras installed to “insure” the safety of the British citizens. While this might be true - that it has security reasons - it is also a huge invasion into people’s privacy. Everything in London is surveilled. Streets, stores, the Underground, public places and squares, and even the ship traffic on the Thames. If the BSIA wants to find someone, they can simply use their face detection feature in their system and will find the person insanely fast, since every single one of the 5.9 million cameras is now looking for one specific individual.
feelings and the things happening to him. Especially the torturing scene and the very end of the book were terrible to read, since I had really bonded with the character.
6079 SMITH W
Winston Smith is the protagonist of the novel 1984 by George Orwell. The story is told from his perspective and he is incredibly relatable for anyone, since he is an everyman -- an average guy. This makes it really easy to “slip” into his body when reading the novel and anyone can easily imagine being in his position. He works in the “Ministry of Truth” censoring and rewriting newspaper articles and included pictures. Winston is one of the only people actually rebelling and doing things that are considered unorthodox and against the “law” (although there is no law anymore). “Until they become conscious they will never rebel, and until after they have rebelled they cannot become conscious.” (chapter 7, page 4) is one of many quotes that can describe his pain. He is just so frustrated that no matter what he does the Party will catch him and yet he feels the need to rebel against them, because he feels like it is the right thing to do. A third characteristic is his hatred towards women in the beginning of the novel. It was something that made me feel uncomfortable about reading the book. He thinks that women are complete slaves to the party and has special disgust for the purity sash that they wear, as he hates the Party’s curbing of natural instincts such as sex. Many times he mentions he wants to “rape” and “smash her face” when referring to women and his attitudes are always violent even towards non-sexualized women, such as mothers. His view towards women changes during the novel as he forms a deeper (unorthodox) connection with Julia. He still doesn’t like women but he no longer has the urge to rape and brutalize them.
The thing that stood out to me was Julia’s unique way of rebelling against the Party. She does not necessarily want change, or social development, but much rather wants to be able to do unorthodox acts without any consequences. Essentially the reader can conclude that she wants to work the system. Her main act of rebellion is sex and actual pleasure from sex. The Party views sex as a detached act, solely to create new members of society and not as a pleasurable experience. Julia is represented as promiscuous even before she is with Winston, but her ultimate rebellion is that she is in love with Winston, risking everything to hand him a note that informs him of her feelings towards him.
Julia’s disinterest for politics is explored throughout the book. Not only does she never talk about political issues or listen to Winston talking about these issues, she even falls asleep whenever he brings up anything that is not related to sex or smalltalk. If she makes a comment at all it is: “Why does it matter?” or “It doesn’t matter.” or “I don’t care.” She believes that the Party is the only political system that can ever exist and that nothing else will ever work out for the society they live in. Organized rebellion is not something she is interested in and the only reason she agrees to meet with O’Brien is because Winston suggests it and she is in love with him.
Winston buys the diary and breaks one of the most important laws, which is not to criticize the system of the Party and big Brother.
PLOT EVENT I
PLOT EVENT II
Winston meets a dark haired girl, which we later know as Julia and the two fall in love.
PLOT EVENT III
Winston is renting a room over the antique shop where he bought the diary for Julia and him to carry out their love affair.
PLOT EVENT VI
O’Brien contacts Winston and asks him to come to his house to discuss the rebellion.
PLOT EVENT V
When Winston and Julia are meeting O’Brien, they both express their hatred towards the Party. When O’Brien then turns off his telescreen, they both believe they are safe.
PLOT EVENT VI
O’Brien tells Winston they will meet again to which Winston asks the question: “In the place where there is no darkness?” and O’Brien confirms Winston’s question.
PLOT EVENT VII
Winston and Julia are found by the thought police in the room Winston is renting. Hidden behind the picture of the church in the room was a telescreen the entire time.
PLOT EVENT IIX
Winston is brought to the place where there is no darkness in the Ministry of Love.
PLOT EVENT XI
He is brought into room 101 where O’Brien is supervising his torture.
PLOT EVENT X
Winston is successfully brainwashed and now believes that everything the Party says is true and says that that Julia should be tortured instead of him.
PLOT EVENT XI
Winston has been brainwashed and now thinks that the Party is correct and a good thing. He no longer wants to rebel against the Party and loves Big Brother and not Julia anymore.
In the beginning of the novel when Orwell first introduces O’Brien we think we know so much about his character. We ‘know’ he is against the Party, however, still a part of it, to keep his cover. We ‘know’ he is part of an organized rebellion and tries to get Winston and Julia on board for it. However, once the book progresses rather than us finding out more about his character, our knowledge decreases. We find out that he played Winston and is not actually anti party, but very much part of it and he agrees with their values.
’They’ve got you too!’ he cried. ’They got me a long time ago,’ said O’Brien with a mild,
almost regretful irony” (page 138)
This conversation between him and Winston suggests that he once was anti Part, but has also been brainwashed just like Winston. During the torture O’Brien keeps telling Winston, that he is only doing this, because they love him and that it will be better afterwards.
His character is quite confusing and I have a theory that Winston is imagining him and projecting his face onto many different Party members, because why would O’Brien put so much effort into one individual when everything the Party is going for is uniformity. Why is Winston so special to them, since he is never established as a saviour figure who will single handedly start the rebellions. Is it maybe because he feels a connection to him, since he was tortured as well? That might be a reason for O’Brien’s efforts. In many novels whenever the protagonist sees sunlight (the place where there is no darkness) the protagonist’s sanity is questioned. This is something else that would support my theory.
1984 is set in a world that is divided in three different zones. Oceania, Eurasia, and Eastasia. By Winston’s interpretation the novel is set in 1984, as the title strongly indicates. Every single country is run by a totalitarian government, which creates the main conflict in the book (elaborated in the conflict section). Winston cannot escape and is therefore rebelling against the government. In Winston’s life poverty is a huge issue, since there is never enough food, or any other supplies. It smells like “boiled cabbage and old rag mats” indicates how poor the society is, since cabbage is food that was usually eaten during war times.
Winston’s apartment is an important setting, because this is where he writes down his thoughts in the diary, and therefore a place where we learn lots about his attitude towards the Party. The place Winston lives in, just like himself, is very depressing. Phrases like it smells like “boiled cabbage and old rag mats” and “an oblong metal plaque like a dulled mirror," do not only show how poor the society is Winston lives in, but also underline the uniformity and the non-existence of individualism in Winston’s life. In the apartment itself a huge telescreen is placed. Winston cannot turn it off, but can turn down the volume a little bit. Whenever he writes in his diary (an old book, he illegally bought in an antique store) he has to sit in a corner, where the camera of the telescreen cannot capture him. He has to be very conscious of every move and sound he makes, since the telescreen is able to record everything he says and does.
1984 is set in Oceania and more specifically in London. Whenever Winston goes outside onto the streets there are gigantic posters of Big Brother looking down on him, that say: “Big Brother is Watching you”. The fact that they are big represents the Party’s power. They are bigger than you, they are literally above you and the “all seeing eyes” is a nice comparison to God by Orwell. Poverty can be seen in the streets. Everything is gray and sad. Everybody is the same and live their lives without giving the world they live in much thought, because that is how they were educated and what they were taught. There is gravel everywhere, since Oceania is fighting a war and there are bombings in London itself due to this.
KEVIN BACON as WINSTON
CLINT EASTWOOD as O'BRIEN
Winston - The Party
Winston (free will) against the Party (Big Brother) is definitely the main conflict. It can be seen as either an external or internal conflict, which was highly interesting to read. His problem with the party is, that he wants to be himself, and he wants to be free. He does not want to fit into a box and do what Big Brother tells him to do. He is going for individualism and the Party is strictly going for uniformity. After a while of having rebellious thoughts Winston joins O’Brien in an anti-Party movement. He is looking to change the system and is ready to sacrifice lots for it in order to achieve change. Not only does he want to be able to express himself as an individual but he also wants to embrace history and artifacts.
Julia - The Party
Julia’s way of rebelling against the Party is very different to Winston’s. While Winston wants change and wants to rebel against the system with an actual outcome, Julia only wants to rebel to be able to do the things she wants to. She wants freedom and Winston wants a different governmental system. Julia’s main concern is that she wants to have pleasure from sex, which is considered unorthodox in Oceania. Not only does she have an illegal affair with Winston, she also had a lot of sex with different people before she fell in love with Winston. The fact that she fell in love with him may be considered as her biggest rebellious act, since it is illegal to have any sort of emotional connection with anybody in Oceania.
Winston - O'Brien
Winston against O’Brien can be considered an external and internal conflict. It is interesting, because they have a relationship based on intense extremes. Winston obviously has stockholm syndrome for O’Brien. Although he is being tortured by O’Brien he always refers to him as a friend, when really he should be realizing that O’Brien is the enemy. Not only is he being tortured by him, O’Brien also lied to Winston. Winston, however still thinks that they are allies in the fight against the Party. When O’Brien tortures Winston he tells him that everything the Party is doing is in Winston’s best interest, which O’Brien might actually believe, but which is obviously not true.
TWO INTERESTING LITERARY DEVICES
It is never 100% explained whether Big Brother is actually a real person, or whether he is only a symbol for the Party. However, usually dictators hold speeches or show themselves. There is not a single chapter in which Big Brother is shown. He is always in the underground, which makes the reader conclude that he is only a symbol for the government and not a real person. No one actually has ever known Big Brother’s location, which is in part the reason why Oceania has no capital city. The Big Brother is always watching everyone. He is the number one symbol for God in the book and everyone knows they cannot commit sins (unorthodox acts) since Big Brother will see. However he is only a theory, just as God, and whether he exists or not is not even important to the running of the country or the believers, since everything is working with only having a theory of a high figure being in charge.
In the world Winston lives in the Party is writing history; quite literally. They are telling their people that the world was even worse before, that they saved the country from a capitalist government. Winston was born before the Party came into power and his memory was clouded by the government's attempts of brainwashing him. However, the paperweight he buys in the antique shop, symbolizes his attempt of reconnecting to the real world. Almost as if he was reconnecting his brainwashed mind to his real one. I personally also really liked the thought police smashing the paperweight just before they started Winston’s “treatment”, signalling the end of his clarity and sanity.
The place where there is no darkness is a metaphor for freedom in Winston’s mind. When he dreams about that special place he is always seeing a field in front of him and the light is described as warm and golden. The field is open, nothing is in his way, and it is welcoming.
“The paint was plastered so thick on her face that it looked as though it might crack like a cardboard mask.” (page 39)
“It was a vast, luminous dream in which his whole life seemed to stretch out before him like a landscape on a summer evening after rain.” (page 94)
“He walked on. The bomb had demolished a group of houses 200 metres up the street. A
black plume of smoke
hung in the sky, and below it a
cloud of plaster dust
in which a crowd was already forming around the ruins. There was a little
pile of plaster lying on the pavement
ahead of him, and in the middle of it he could see a
bright red streak
. When he got up to it he saw that it was a human hand severed at the wrist. Apart from the
hand was so completely whitened as to resemble a plaster cast
- page 48
“the face of
, with a heavy
- page 1
Under the table
Winston’s feet made
. He had not stirred from his seat, but in his mind he was running, swiftly running, he was with the crowds outside, cheering himself deaf. He looked up again at the
portrait of Big Brother
- page 172
“Winston looked up at him. ’In the place where there is no darkness?’ he said hesitantly.” (page 105) I love this quote, since it is obviously foreshadowing for the prison cell in the Ministry of Love. The light in that cell is never turned off and therefore there is never darkness.
Many words that are used in the novel overall set a connotation to the mood and atmosphere. I am very impressed by how an author can convince you off something without actually ever mentioning it.
Many people enjoy reading easy books, with not really an important theme. I personally also like reading these kind of books. However, I do not think that the authors of those kind of books are all that noteworthy. Yes; they entertain a huge mass of people and yes; their books might be good, but at the end of the day, what did anyone actually learn from Twilight for example? That eternal love is only possible when you’re a vampire?
Although I do think that sometimes literature, movies, or theatre (the Arts in general) can simply be entertaining and don’t necessarily have to teach you a lesson I also believe in the Arts being one of the easiest ways of teaching society a new or important value, or simply to bring up an issue, or to warn us. Overall, popular authors are not necessarily good and noteworthy authors.
In 1984 however, Orwell is openly criticising where the world might be going, and look at where we are now. Our credit and debit card payments are tracked, we have surveillance cameras, cell phones can be located by satellite, and basically anything that was described in the novel is true now, although in a less aggressive way. His writing-style takes time to get used to, but in the end it was refreshing that his writing was not as simple as the one of other authors. His criticism on society was important, and in the era probably revolutionary. Overall, I loved the themes and descriptions of the novel, however I feel like Julia’s character was really simple and I would’ve liked to have more detail in her character description.
Washington Post: “North Korea begins brainwashing children in cult of the Kims as early as kindergarten”, Anna Fifield, January 2015.