In part two of George Orwell’s, 1984, Julia and Winston’s relationship caught me by surprise. Winston had previously claimed to hate Julia, as he believed she was a political spy monitoring his behaviour. However, when he finds out that she actually loved him, his behaviour and attitude towards her changed drastically. Firstly, I found the way in which Julia chose to “give him” the note extremely over the top. By falling on her already injured arm, she let the note that read “I love you” slip right before him. Secondly, Winston’s reaction to the note reveals that there is a very fine line between love and hate. As Winston, “felt as though a fire were burning in his belly” (Orwell 108), the excitement and passion of being in love clearly overwhelmed him. After he received the note, Winston felt a sudden pang of desire to live – all of a sudden life was worth the torture and agony of living. When a relationship finally sprouted between the two, I realised that maybe Winston had actually loved Julia all along, even when he claimed to hate her, but just didn’t realise it because he didn’t understand his feelings. However, after the debate there was in class about whether the couple were together because of their political beliefs or because of blatant love, I formed the opinion that they got together because of love. I think the couple loved each other from the very start, but the feeling was so strong and not similar to anything they had felt before, that they mistook it for something negative. Their similar political views and desires only help make the relationship more intense, as it increases the chemistry and bond between the two. However, the ultimate reason the two are a couple and not just friends, is because of love. Winston and Julia’s relationship is similar to that of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. Just like Romeo and Juliet, Winston and Julia’s relationship is prohibited and very risky. However, will Winston and Julia’s relationship end the same way Romeo and Juliet’s did, with the tragic death of both? Or will they conquer their “enemies” and live happily ever after?
The book by Goldstein reveals much about the aims of the government in Oceania, “The war, therefore, if we judge it by the standards of previous wars, is merely an imposture. It is like the battles between certain ruminant animals whose horns are set at such an angle that they are incapable of hurting one another. But though it is unreal it is not meaningless. War, it will be seen, is now a purely internal affair. The war is waged by each ruling group against its own subjects, and the object of the war is not to make or prevent conquests of territory, but to keep the structure of society intact” (Orwell 199). Goldstein unveils the whole truth about the government and the purpose of the war. With the reality we are faced today, it is hard to believe that a government would wish to be continuously in war, even if a fake war, so that they can keep control of the population. Although it is said before that the war maybe have been a fake, it was never stated clearly, with such thorough explanation of the aims of the Party. In this sense, the slogan “WAR IS PEACE”, is not entirely illogical. According to Goldstein’s book, the external war that is continuous with Oceania and Eurasia or Eastasia, provides their governments with an internal peace between the government and the population. The Party utilizes the war to maintain its image of protector of the masses and the dependency of the people on their control. Furthermore, by always keeping a war going on with the other countries, Oceania maitains the population worried about the war much more than with the actual government and the decisions they are making. By having other worries the people cannot critically think and worry about the Party and how they are governing the people. Therefore, the war does mean peace and stability for the government of Oceania. In addition, these actions can be connected to that of other totalitarian governments such as Stalin’s in which people had to worry more about staying alive and could not focus on learning about the government and the choices they were making or the information that was being hidden from them. Even though it is clear that by putting people’s lives at risk the government controls where they focus their attention to, it is interesting to question if, in the world that we live today, it would be possible for this type of complete control over the people exist.
3. Describe your reaction to a character, action, or idea you confronted in the section.
Do opposites really attract?
“What good is the warmth of summer, without the cold of winter to give it sweetness?” asks John Steinbeck in one of his novels. He exposes the dilemma of whether opposites really attract each other, which is a question all of us subconsciously ask ourselves in a daily basis. I was deeply surprised when reading through the passage in which Julia hands Winston a paper with the “I love you” message, for I did not expect the plot to have a love story given that the novel is primarily a political critique aimed at totalitarian societies and repressive regimes. As Gabriella mentions in her blog, the surprise is even greater given the fact that Winston has expressed his hatred towards Julia previously in the novel (considering even the possibility of killing her). But within the many curiosities of this love affair, what strikes me the most is that although Julia and Winston’s political perspectives seem to be similar, in reality, they differ profoundly. Winston’s commentary in the end of chapter V presents an interesting insight as to how their political viewpoints differ. He comments, “You’re only a rebel from the waist downwards” (Huxley 156). By suggesting that Julia is a rebel only from the waist downwards, Winston is implying that she rebels only for her personal satisfaction. Her aim at rebelling is not to promote the common good by reforming the structure of society as a whole, but for the sole purpose of obtaining pleasure. The narrator thus remarks, “But she only questioned the teachings of the party when they in some way touched upon her own life” (Huxley 153). Can the reader conclude, then, that Winston is the most intellectually developed rebel amongst the two? I cannot agree with that statement. Though Winston is portrayed as the heroic character that looks forward to overthrowing IngSoc and creating a less synthetic society, he seems to be too much of an idealist, whereas Julia is more of a pragmatist. All of us, in the real world, have a tendency to make decisions based on what gives us the most personal satisfaction, giving less attention to the impact these decisions will have in our communities and societies. This idiosyncrasy of men can be observed even in daily choices that can apparently seem to be unimportant, like the decision of buying water bottles. As “Julias”, we all think first of the personal benefits a plastic water bottle provides to us- they are cold, ready to use, we don’t need to bother to fill them in, and they are disposable, which means we do not need to clean them all the time. “Winstons”, on the other hand, would think first of the impact that one plastic bottle could have in our environment. Regardless of their varying political viewpoints, however, when they’re in Mr. Charrignton’s room, they forget the differences that set them apart. In a fixed small space, they are able to create an inseparable bond that shows that the solidarity generated by love is greater than the hatred created by opposing perspectives. The one question I have for the next part of the book is whether the growing awareness of their differences in perspectives will alter the way the characters feel for each other.
Describe your reaction to a character, action or idea you confronted in this section.
Future of world domination = mind-control?
In response to Sarah’s blog post in which she asks, “do opposites really attract?”, I would respond by saying, yes opposites do attract. There is a draw of opposites towards each other, like the positive and negative ends of a magnet. Not only is Julia and Winston’s relationship an important example, but the society in itself is a representation of the opposite binaries that make up daily life. For example, the juxtaposition of the Ministry names with their purpose is exemplified when Orwell writes, “The Ministry of Peace concerns itself with war, the Ministry of Truth with lies, the Ministry of Love with torture, and the Ministry of Plenty with starvation. These contradictions are not accidental, nor do they result in ordinary hypocrisy: they are deliberate exercises in doublethink” (Orwell 216). The contrast of the names and purposes such as war and peace, and truth and lies, highlight the nature of doublethink. Society in 1984 has learned to control each side of the binary, not just to implement the positive like our society today, but to implement and control the negative as well. It is implied in the text that one who can control both sides of love and war, becomes infallible. This leads to total totalitarianism. The government in 1984 is able to control both truth and lies, both war and peace, and love and torture. They become the masters of society and the masters in doublethink. So even if the society controls everything, one’s mind can be convinced to suppress one side of the entire equation. An example is exemplified when Orwelll says that doublethink is, “To tell deliberate lies while genuinely believing in them” (Orwell 214). Characters suppress the fact that they are telling lies, almost forgetting that the action is happening and are convinced that telling lies is the right thing to do. It is scary to think that our brains can be controlled through pure belief. If one thinks hard enough, the lie becomes truth. The more one tells a lie to oneself, the more believable it becomes. I believe this happens in real life to some extent. People who have been through traumatic experiences can sometimes convince themselves that the event never happened and the lie becomes the truth. If this type of mind-control is possible, will the future of world control become a system of psychological prison?
1984: Goldstein's Last Cry
“The best books, he perceived, are those that tell you what you know already” (Orwell 200).
The aforementioned quote stood out for me because it transcends the boundaries of the plot and sheds light to the motives that led George Orwell to write 1984. In this metafictive fragment, Orwell uses the omniscient narrator’s verdict on regards of Winston’s literary taste as a subtle form of self-reference, drawing attention to the value of the novel both as a work of art and a socio-political critique.
In the novel, Orwell is not striving to bring up new concepts, as although he foreshadows the dystopian future of human civilization, the essential causes for the ultimate failure of Oceania have always, to some degree, existed. Instead, the author uses the narrative to both decipher and reveal the hypocrisies inherent to the system we all abide to. Therefore, rather than acquainting his readers with new ideas, Orwell dissects the reality which his readers have been part of, showing them the meaning behind the perenial social imbalance, the continuous state of conflict the prevailing ignorance through a futuristic projection. And it is in telling us what we supposedly already know that relies the power of this novel.
The beauty and the power behind this book relies in its exploration of an already known reality, because it makes the ones reading consciously question the standards of living imposed to them by their government and community. For example, as I read 1984 I question myself if the education system in Brazil is pathetic simply due to corruption of our representatives or the authorities recognize that ignorance can make the masses more susceptible to demagoguery and manipulation, and subsequently keeping ones uneducated is an irrevocable facet in the maintenance of the status quo. This rationalization contrasts the imbecile conformity of the members of the society in Oceania. Through the gradual and progressive limitation of language, and the practice of doublethink the members of 1984’s dystopia are forced to swallow the ideology of IngSoc and be doomed to the Party’s domination. In practice they have no exit from such menial lives as they are deprived of ratiocination. However, by stimulating the reader’s inquisitiveness, Orwell gives the means for each and every one of his readers to evade such dehumanized state. It is like Orwell established his own novel to be a real life reflection of Goldstein’s Book, a sociopolitical critique and a manifesto of freedom aimed in fighting against the impending future of mankind.
“The birds sang, the proles sang, the Party did not sing” (Orwell 221).
The idea of this statement is significant because it explicates through a comparison why does the hope lie with the proles. Winston’s line of thought in this sentence is his reflection about reality in that society, where people are treated as slaves of a system which is omniscient and absolute. Winston proposes a comparison between three distinct elements; the birds, the proles and the Party. In his reflection, Winston concludes that there is one characteristic of the proles and the birds which are particular to them and which the Party does not possess. Earlier in the novel, when he was with Julia in their secret garden, Winston observed how there was a bird who simply sang for no reason and afterwards simply flew away in freedom. I believe that Winston had this memory in mind when he compared the proles with the birds, as shown in the quote above. By elucidating their unique characteristic, which is the singing, Winston proposes that the proles are similar to the birds in this specific way, and therefore, makes the reader infer how just as the bird flew away in freedom, the proles could one day rise against the totalitarian government of Big Brother and find their way to become free. This quote appealed to me because I found it interesting the way how Orwell created a metaphoric comparison between the bird and the proles, emphasizing the singing as their expression of liberty. Furthermore, I believe it foreshadows the inevitable future of an oppressing government, which is to succumb to their own impositions and ultimately be eliminated by those whom the power emanates from; the people.
“Oranges and lemons, say the bells of St. Celement’s, /You owe me three farthings, say the bells of St. Martin’s /When will you pay me? Say the bells of Old Bailey, /When I grow rich, say the bells of Shoreditch
This is a general response to this poem itself and its placement within the novel, encompassing prompts 1, 2, and 3. First of all, this is an old poem that was created in reference to the bells of several churches, all within the vicinity of the city of London. Within the novel, several characters added on to the poem, contributing parts that they remembered. While it is hard to make a direct connection with lyrics of the poem with the novel, the purpose of its placement could be to outline the longevity of human connection. Although the party and Big Brother try their best at eliminating the past and any memories related to the past, the fact that several characters have heard and know parts of this poem proves that history has not entirely been vanquished. The poem itself is a symbol of connection amongst humans. In 1948, many people would have been familiar with this poem, thus linking all of their histories, at the least with a few lines. The setting of 1984 is also based in London further signifying the fact that the characters know the poem. Just like the children of the real world in 1948, they are connected and their emotions and histories of the past are thus connected. If something so simple can survive the harsh reality of the world in 1984, where everything is erased or censored, then it is a symbol of hope, that the past can never truly be vanquished. Furthermore, it is also interesting to note that O’Brien is the only character to know the whole poem. Winston and Julia both knew fragments and within the plotline, they were both only beginning to realize their true potential as rebels. The fact that O’Brien knows the whole poem could symbolize how he is all knowing, and the key to helping Winston achieve his goal of becoming a true rebel. O’Brien already knows much information about the Brotherhood which could mean that he knows and remembers the true history of the world, just like he remember the actual poem of the bells.
Please click on the above link to review blog expectations. The instructions for this assignment as well as the reading calendar are downloadable in the document to your left.