’s1984 Essay, Research Paper
Author: George Orwell
Publisher: Penguin Books.
Number of Pages: 247
Winston Smith is the only character in this book whose character development can be described. Although Julia is an important person too, you cannot really describe her development. The book doesn t really show how she has changed after her arrest. So I only chose to describe the development of Winston s character.
Winston Smith: He is the main-character in this book. Winston is 39 years old and works at the records department of the Ministry of Truth. His job was to alter newspaper articles and literature. The goal of this was to make it seem that Big Brother was always right and that history always supported the opinions of the Inner Party and Big Brother.
Winston is a quiet type and though he participates in all the Party activities, he loathes Big Brother and the Party. He must participate because he would be arrested if they would ever find out what he truly believed. (Page 17: Of course he chanted with the rest: it was impossible to do otherwise. To dissemble your feelings, to control your face, to do what everyone else was doing, was an instinctive reaction) But he really hoped that one day something would happen or someone would come along to end the reign and terror of Big Brother. (Page 17: All that they did was to keep alive in him the belief, or hope, that others beside himself were enemies of the Party) He really believes that there are people who believe in the same ideals as he does. (Page 17: O Brien seemed to be saying to him. I know precisely what you are feeling. Don t worry I am on your side!) But Winston also knew that because of these thoughts and because he was keeping a diary he had already signed his death-warrant. And this thought never let go of Winston, but he did not seem to care about it. He did not stop writing in his diary and his search for congenial people continued. (Page 25: He was already dead, he reflected. The consequences of every act are included in itself. He wrote: Thoughtcrime does not entail death: Thoughtcrime is death. )
After a while the first change in his character takes place. In the old days he used to hate women. (Page 11: He disliked nearly all women and especially the young and the pretty ones. It was always the women, and above all the young ones, who were the most bigoted adherents of the Party, the swallowers of slogans and amateur spies.)
That explains why he hated women so much. But now he meets Julia, she slips him a piece of paper saying I love you . He doesn t dislike Julia, she did something illegal by slipping him the piece of paper and telling him she was in love with him. He liked her for her behaviour, she did not act like all those Party members, she used coarse language and such. ( Page 101: He did not dislike it. It was another symptom of her revolt against the party and all it s ways.) Winston also rented a room above the shop where he once had purchased the diary. This would become the hide-out of Julia and him. After Winston had received The Book written by Goldstein (enemy of the state number one) from O Brien he was sure he had joined the resistance. When he was at the hide-out together with Julia reading the book, he felt safe and happy. (Page 171: The sun on his face and the girl s smooth body touching his own gave him a strong, sleepy, confident feeling. He was safe everything was alright.) I think that is the only time in the book when he is really happy.
But then everything changes. Julia and Winston both get arrested when they wake up. And that is when the character of Winston goes through the mayor change. Throughout the book his character remains like it is described in the paragraphs above. But when he is in prison and he is being tortured his character changes drastically. I will demonstrate this by the three main things that have changed.
- His beliefs in an underground resistance and the overthrowing of Big Brother are completely shattered when it turns out that O Brien was a member of the Thoughtpolice. (Page 189: They ve got you too! he cried. They got me a long time ago, said O Brien. Don t deceive yourself, you know it. You have always known it.)
- He and Julia said to each other that they could never really betray each other. With this they meant that the Thoughtpolice could never take away the feelings between them. (Page 135: They can make you say anything, but they can t make you believe it.) But when in prison they torture Winston with his worst fear rats and he loudly wishes that they would do it to Julia not to him. He has betrayed her. But Julia has also betrayed him. (Page 232: I betrayed you, she said baldly. I betrayed you he said. She gave him another quick look of dislike.) Their feelings for each other were gone.
- And the biggest change: His hatred for Big Brother has turned into love. (Page 236: O cruel needless misunderstanding! O stubborn, self-willed exile from the loving breast! Two gin-scented tears trickled down the side of his nose. But it was all right, everything was all right, the struggle was finished. He had won the victory over himself. He loved Big Brother.)
Phew, this wasn t the easiest book to read. You really had to pay attention while reading. What do orthodox , doublethink and other terms used in Newspeak mean? It is quite a job figuring out what it really means, but I managed to pull it off. So you can say that this isn t a book which you just read lying down relaxing. Not just because of the terms used in the book, but also because the book makes you think. And I must say, this image of the future terrifies me. I compared it with my own life and thought how my life would be if I lived in such a state. No more leisure (unless planned by the Party), no more summer evenings playing soccer or just hanging around. No, you just had to work, to obey and have no own opinion. But the worst of all, there was no affection. No mother who loved her son, no two people who are falling in love. I refuse to believe that a society can live like that. But what also terrified me is that according to the book it is possible to mould people into a certain shape. It is possible to take away someone s personality and make that person into someone who you want him to be. This terrifies me even more than the fact that you are watched 24 hours a day.
Usually I don t like books that make you think too much. I like a book that you can read, and then put down. I don t want to think about it. A book had to be fun. But 1984 of course is a classic, and I think everyone must have read it. While reading the book my beliefs were only confirmed. This is a book you have to read, not because it is fun, I can t remember one exciting or funny part in the book, but because you have to experience the suppression and the fear. Actually I was hoping for a happy end but the system beats the individual, a depressing thought.
Of course recently this book got a lot of attention because of the television shows Big Brother and De Bus . They both work with the principle of the all seeing camera. But I would like to connect this book to a movie. In The Matrix just like in the book, their rulers keep the people of the planet quiet by giving the people a false image of reality. In 1984 people are brainwashed and news and literature is altered, so people won t find out the truth about their rulers. In The Matrix a giant computer makes the world look completely different so the people will keep quiet. Maybe this is another movie/TV show that is inspired by the book???