Conformist Society Essay, Research Paper
Society divides people into two categories; those who conform to
what is expected, and those who do not. Webster s dictionary defines conformity
as, similarity in form or character; correspondence; agreement; action or behaviour
in correspondence with current customs, rules or styles. When a person fails to
measure up to certain expectations, those in power inflict consequences. Under
these circumstances, it is human nature to feel the need to rebel, either externally or
internally. These statements are apparent in both 1984 and One Flew Over
The Cuckoo s Nest. Both main characters fall into the non-conformist category, but
in two very different ways.
In 1984, the main character Winston Smith, lives in a society of rules and
regulation, which is written in stone. The laws are strict and the punishment is
swift, should they be disobeyed. Expectations form any large or small community
and rules define the way it should behave. The Party is the one and only figure of
power in the book. It maintains control over the people by removing a few basic
human instincts. The first instinct is hate. All people in the society are expected to be
united and act as one, even if it means losing their own identity, Oh comrade , she
began .It was Mrs. Parson s, the wife of a neighbour on the same floor. Mrs was a
word somewhat discountenanced by the Party- you were supposed to call everyone
comrade (20). By forcing all of the people to call each other comrade , the Party
attempts to remove any spark of originality from the people. In many cases, it has
always been the individuals that have caused the most uproar.
The Party dictates that people should love Big Brother (the figurehead),
hate Goldstien (the enemy) and outsiders. All personal written material is strictly
forbidden, as well as sex, love or any marriage that was unapproved by the Party.
The aim of the Party was not merely to prevent men and women from
forming loyalties which it might not be able to control. It s real,
undeclared purpose was to remove all pleasure from the sexual act
.The Party was trying to kill the sex instinct, or, if it could not be
killed, then to distort it and dirty it (21).
The Party s rules ensure that there is no loyalty except to the Party, and no love,
expect for the love of Big Brother. They exercise this tactic in order to submit the
human mind solely to the Party. Winston Smith, however, feels the need to revolt
against such strict rules in order to feel human again. He assumes that the best
form of rebellion lies in being blatant in his disagreement with the Party. Winston
therefore goes against everything he has ever been taught by those in control,
For a moment, he was seized by a kind of hysteria. He began writing
in an untidy scrawl: theyll shoot me I don t care they ll shoot me
in the back of the neck I don t care down with big brother they
always shoot you in the back of the neck I don t care down with big brother (21).
Winston falls in love and has sex with a fellow member of the Party. He also
commits thoughtcrime, the most deadly of all crimes in his society. This
unpardonable sin is the giving in to thoughts which are not pure. It may take the
form of treason, hate, or simply sexual attraction. If caught, the punishment is
forced labour or in extreme cases, death. Winston explains it best when he says,
Thoughtcrime does not entail death. Thoughtcrime IS death (30). Through all this,
Winston does not care. He exhibits a natural feeling of freedom from care and rules.
However, there are serious consequences for Winston s actions. One cannot outrun
those in a high position of power for long. Every human knows that, if he commits a
crime, one day he must pay for it. Winston knows that the day he wrote in his
journal (his first offence) made him a dead man,
He was already dead, he reflected. It seemed to him that it was
only now, when he had begun to be able to formulate his thoughts,
that he had taken the decisive step. The consequences of every act
are included in the act itself (30).
Winston discovers he is right. The Party knew all along. Winston demonstrates that
one should not underestimate higher powers,
We are the priests of power .The first thing you must realize
is that power is collective. The individual only has power so
long as he ceases to be an individual .Already our control
over matter is absolute (277).
As seen in 1984, if under authority s thumb for an extended period of time,
some people will…
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