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1984 by George Orwell Essay

The theme of power is prominent in the dystopian novel 1984 by George Orwell and throughout this book he develops two different types of power. This is collective power and individual power, which will both be addressed separately. Firstly, the notion of power through the collective is characterised through the totalitarian Party in Airstrip One, Oceania, one of the three super-states. In chapter 3 Part 3, Winston claims that, “The Party seeks power entirely for its own sake”, and that power comes from the oppression of sensual experience and basic human instincts and through the manipulation of history.

In regards to the oppression of sensual experience and basic human instincts, the novel opens with a characterisation of Winston’s apartment block. It are described as smelling of “boiled cabbages and old rugs”. Through olfactory imagery, the reader is able to understand the conditions of the Outer Party member’s life as being dank and foetid, coupled with the ironic naming of the apartments as ‘victory mansion’ seems to suggest that whilst there is that pretense of both nationalism and grandeur, the reality is different.

This says two things, ? rstly it shows a denial of the living conditions by the Party and secondly it expresses the societal division between the Outer Party and the Inner Party when contrasted with the vibrant living quarters of O’Brien’s home in chapter 8 part 3. In this chapter, the visual imagry is overwhelming for both Winston and Julia through the use of synesthesia and accumulation.

The effect of such a comparison epitomises the division between the two classes whereas the Inner Party, and the collective institute that makes up the Party has access to richer sensual perception in olfactory, kinesetic and gustatory senses and they can control the senses of the lesser classes. This oppression of basis human senses deprives the human body to which the Party utilises in “keeping the people in a constant state of angst”, which unables them to be easily manipulated into believing the Party ideology and accepting the stardard of living that is applied to the people.

This is also seen with the example of the prole. The proles are just given enough to get by and due to this they do not need to become revoltuionary or question authority. In regards to the manipulation of history, the denial of past events and the establishment of falsities is a way in which the Party has control over the people. The changing of history is ? rst established in the in the ? rst chapter where Winston’s work at the Ministry of Truth is discussed. Those that control the present control the past. Those that control the past control the future. This is due to two reasons.

Firstly, with the control of the past, the society in the novel is without a ? rm grasp in reality and experiences are nulli? ed in the their own version of reality. Secondly, everyones experiences are institutionalised under the conformity of the past controlling independent thought and indiviuality. Winston tries to break loose from these con? nes and in his very ? rst diary entry he simply writes the date. The effect of writing his thoughts down provides an impetus for further counter-party ideology which is articulated further in the book. This brings me on to the second type of power that is addressed in George Orwell’s ovel. That is the power of the individual and throughout the book it is characterised through the characters of both Winston and Julia through both crimethink and rediscovering what it means to be human. One of the ? rst instances of Winston’s individual power comes through the writing in his diary. Much of his writing in the ? rst chapter of part one holds little structure and contains little use of grammar devices. The effect of such writing is the demonstration of out foriegn it is for Winston in his paradigm to express his personal feelings even if, at this early stage in the novel, all his commentary have a political stance.

The capitalisation of “down with big brother ” adds to the effect of Winston’s individual power as it is a radical step away the acceptence of total party power. Julia may well be the symbol for hope that Orwell inserts into the novel to allude to the continuing resistence to totalitarianism inherent in humanity. Julia is perhaps the greatest hope for change, as her relationship with Winston is representitive of the need for the “worker” to form an alliance with the “middle class”. Julia can be seen as the ? rst person to being to change Winston’s individual power through their relationship spawning in part 2.

During the relationship, the reader can note an increase in sensual imagery such as the gustatory imagry of the jams and sugar, the auditory imagery of the singing from the proles and the bird in the woods, and the olfactory imagery of the roasted coffee. The effect of the introduction of this imagery creates a mood of comfort and relaxation, which appeals to the reader and their experiences. This gaining of the basic human insticts and experiences can be seen in colloralation with the Party’s want to remove these instinct highlighting the importance that senseual perception plays in percieved or real power one has.


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