1984 Orwell 2 Essay, Research Paper
Insanity is Unlike Beauty, for it has Nothing to With the Beholders Eye, but Instead the Public’s View
O’Brien insists that Winston is insane. In Winston’s society it is suicide to go against Big Brother. A simple smirk can be a first degree crime in Oceania. Winston knew that he was guilty of thought crime, but he went farther and farther in his efforts to rebel against Big Brother. Eventually his original thoughtcrime had turned into action. First as writing creative works in his diary and eventually to sexual acts with other members of the party. Winston justified his writing. “He could not help feeling a twinge of panic. It was absurd, since the writing of those particular words was not more dangerous that the act of opening the diary…….. Whether he wrote DOWN WITH BIG BROTHER, or whether he refrained from writing it, made no difference. Whether he went on with his diary, or whether he did not go on with it, made no difference. The Thought Police would get him just the same.” This thought and many others like it justified Winston’s insanity in O’Brien’s mind. Winston was defying a power which he knew was undefeatable. O’Brien saw Winston as a madman struggling with the a straight jacket, fighting something which they both knew could not be undone. The idea of insanity as fighting a unwinnable cause is not original to Oceania, but instead a reflection of societies’ beliefs.
Many people are labelled insane by society because they believe what seems impossible. The struggle in one’s mind between what they think is true, and what others think is true can be taxing upon someone. Not unlike Winston, many “insane” people believe they can overcome things such as Gravity or Time. Insanity can be summed up as not believing what everyone else sees plainly. To declare down with big brother is similar to saying I believe I can overcome societies beliefs. The thought of someone being able to travel across the country in a day would be labelled insane just a century ago, but today it would be insane to think that such travel is impossible.. The idea of spaceships, television, and automobiles were all insane at one time. As society changes, It’s views on what is insane and what is not changes.
By Oceania’s yardstick Winston is insane. His beliefs that Big Brother can be overthrown is impossible to society at large. Winston knew his attempts were futile, he kept up his crimes though because he believed that humanity could overcome Big Brother. His conversations with Julia showed his defeatist nature in spite of her Optimism. Winston told her that the individual is always defeated. He told her They were doomed to be caught by the Thought Police. He explained this thought. “We are the dead…….. Not physically. Six months, a year-five years, conceivably. I am afraid of death. You are young, so presumably you’re more afraid of it than I am. Obviously we shall put it off as long as we can. But it makes very little difference. So long as human beings stay human, death and life are the same thing.” These ideas showed that Winston was a rational man, he knew that he would be caught. He was a kamikaze pilot. Flying into the face of death for the greater cause, that humans would remain human. Little did he know even this would be wrong.
“If you are a man, Winston, you are the last man. Your kind is extinct; we are the inheritors. Do you understand that you are alone?” O’Brien’s chilling words to Winston; O’Brien knew that Winston believed in his fellow man. O’Brien told Winston that there was not fellow man to believe in. Big Brother had taken what humanity’s death had left behind. Where a human’s free thought and spirit had once resided, the party’s ideals and slogans had bludgeoned out of existence. And in so doing, the party had created fully devoted Party members where humans used to exist. The idea of conjuring humans out of party members was insane, just as insane as creating visions and voices which only the owner can see. Oceania’s idea of insanity is not too different than today’s society idea of insanity; the chalklines of sane thought had just been drawn differently.