Totalitarianism In 1984 Essay, Research Paper
People in general have always been attempting to understand the future in an attempt to prepare for future events. This hope is the principle for futuristic novels like George Orwell s 1984, which moves through the life of a rebellious citizen trapped in a world of deceit and propaganda. Very few people have been exposed to such a totalitarian like place as Oceania, where Winston, the main character, resides. To accomplish this, Orwell utilizes the theme of individuality versus tyranny, foreshadowing, and irony, in order to fully extract all possible motives behind Winston s actions.
Many countries are founded on principles of individuality reigning over tyranny, more specifically, the freedom of choice. However, in the land of Oceania, run by Big Brother , freedom and individuality is completely prohibited. To act impulsively, or choose to oppose Big Brother, is a thoughtcrime of dreadful consequence. This is the basis behind the Inner Party s control of Oceania. Winston Smith showed his lack of willingness to conform to such a tyrannical society. From his writing DOWN WITH BIG BROTHER in his diary as the novel opened, to his relationship with Julia, which was considered sexcrime in Oceania, Winston proved his thoughts were antiparallel to those of the Inner Party. The fact that Winston was so ready to rebel was quite courageous in that he knew people who opposed The Party, or were to educated, like Syme, were vaporized. The members of the Inner Party recognized the abilities of an educated man to see through the propaganda of Oceania, and would therefore tolerate nothing but ignorance. Winston, however, continued to oppose the state, and commited, in many ways, both thoughtcrime and sexcrime. He joined the Brotherhood, run by Oceania s first public enemy, Goldstein, and even reads a book published by the man. This action follows Winston s open attempt to befriend O Brien in a society which would not condone such outward behavior. The reasoning behind the condemnation of friendship was that it was believed that friendship could lead to alliances that would threaten the reign of the Inner Party. Winston s barrage of individualistic actions lead The Party to arrest him, as they witnessed his actions from a hidden telescreen behind a picture. Mr. Charrington, the local store manager, who appeared rather genuine, led the arrest, for he was a member of the unknown thoughtpolice. Julia is killed, and Winston is taken by the thoughtpolice to the ministry of love, where he is to be held for his crimes.
As is the basis for futuristic novels such as 1984, Orwell foreshadows much of the events that occur, through vague or inanimate objects. The most noticeable device for foreshadowing was Winston s dream of the Golden place with fields and rays of light, a basic human paradise. Such a place foreshadows Winston s capture and incarceration in the Ministry of Love which is a large white building with strong lights continuously beating down upon its inmates. One of the largest symbols in the novel was the breaking of the globe, which can be interpreted in many fashions. One of which is the foreshadowing of the destruction of Winston s world, as portrayed through the murder of Julia and his capture by the thoughtpolice. Goldstein s book also is a mechanism by which Orwell foreshadows eventual occurrences in the novel. Such an object, absolutely illegal in Oceania, foreshadows the Winston s final steps before his capture, authorized by the Inner Party. Other instances, separate from the second book, are also applied for foreshadowing. Winston s relationship with the prostitute, portraying his search for human companionship, form a preconceived notion of his relationship with Julia and his befriending of O Brien. These two actions are perhaps, Winston s two greatest violations against the laws set forth by the Inner Party.
Though the theme of individuality versus tyranny and the use of foreshadowing are essential literary devices, it is the application of irony that truly makes the novel a masterpiece. Many ironic events occur during the second book, taking Winston on an emotional spin through the thrills and dangers of Oceania. The foremost irony is Winston s affinity with the recognition of the past. Winston is angered when Julia does not care to remember that Oceania was at war with Eastasia in the past. He is likewise engulfed with happiness when O Brien recalls the last line to a children s poem. It is Winston s belief that the recognition of the past is the key to stopping the Party. This is ironic in that Winston was employed to change the past so that the population was ignorant to past events. An easily overlooked form of irony is conveyed in Winston s greatest fear, rats. It is paradoxical that in all of Oceania, with all of its propaganda and tyranny, Winston s greatest fear is of a foot-long mammal. This acknowledgment is followed by the irony upon Winston s institution into the Brotherhood, an underground organization formed by Goldstein to rebel against the tyranny of the Inner Party. After Winston is accepted, and receives Goldstein s book, he is soon captured and incarcerated by the thoughtpolice, making his dreams of opposing the Party, worthless. Besides Winston, Julia, herself, is also doused in irony, in her spontaneous revelation that the wars were merely propaganda by the Party, an idea that Winston is unable to conceive. She also acknowledges that she is nearly unable to contain her laughter during the Two Minute Hate, a situation of irony in itself. The most ironic facet to Julia, is that she is a sash-wearing member of the anti-sex league, while she has committed sexcrime in her association with Winston. The final influx of irony at the culmination of the second book is the revelation that Mr. Charrington, the friendly owner of the convenience store, was the arresting officer of the thoughtpolice who instigated Winston s capture and Julia s murder.
It is terrible to know that situations, such as the one produced in 1984 have been real to life for people of certain cultures, such as that of the Russians, Germans, and others. It is even more devastating to think that such a situation could actually become a reality where that mere thought of a situation could bear vaporization. Though the United States has remained a society based around choice, the antithesis of the fictional Oceania, it cannot be denied, that as technology gains more and more influence over common lives, the destruction of choice by misused technology becomes more and more realistic. Orwell uses literary devices like foreshadowing, themes, and irony to constitute a world he invented in 1948. Though the overall mechanics of Oceania are false, many of the inventions and beliefs put forth by the novel, have come to exist. Between computers, mind-control experiments, and the overproduction of technological propaganda, the purpose of Orwell s novel, a forewarning of possibilities facilitating in society s inability to control the monsters it creates, is well served. Society must continually advance, for the health and survival of civilization. But, as evidenced by a common hope that no situation similar to that of Oceania occurs, this continuous advance must be made with continuos knowledge and restraint, in order to preserve a way of life society to often takes for granted.