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Back during the time of The second world war, fear swept across the world. Hitler, persuading countless people into fighting for him, almost defeated all who opposed him. Had he succeeded in his mission, a fascist government system would have formed, greatly hindering the rights and benefits of the basic population. George Orwell composed 1984 to show the scary this system would bring. Utilizing setting, characters, and conflict, Orwell uses this book to portray the theme of raw, unrefined humankind, and its capability to increase above a corrupt and confining evil of an opponent.
Orwell distorts the concept of Paradise, an ideal society where human beings live a best existence, and develops an imaginary setting in which life is exceptionally bad from oppression, deprivation of rights, and fear. Worry is used as a tool for manipulating and controlling people, and nearly every favorable feeling is squelched. The world is divided into three political nations: Oceania, Eastasia, and Eurasia. Each of these states is ruled by a police state and is constantly warring on multiple fronts.
Utilizing the scary atmosphere of the archaic world, Orwell creates the illusion that Winston has no place to get away the oppression.
Winston is forced to live within his present scenarios; able to change where he lives, yet not able to alter how he lives. Oceania’s political structure contained 3 segments: the gentility, the educated employees, and the working class. Orwell, being a socialist, realized that with class distinctions came class battle. The gentility, consisting of the rich and effective, was just two percent of the population.
In Hitler’s Germany, the really few people who were considered part of the gentility had a more elegant lifestyle that the masses, yet in this country, as in 1984, revolt was unavoidable.
The conflict between Winston and O’Brien is another way Orwell shows how a society can try to brainwash a person into believing the impossible. For instance, O’Brien wants Winston to believe that two plus two is five, going against all the laws of mathematics Winston has studied all his life. O’Brien is one of the top leaders in the Inner Party, and may even be part of a hive that creates the idea of Big Brother. When O’Brien reveals himself as a representative of the Party and all of its contradictions and cruelty, Winston discards all feelings of friendship and suddenly becomes his enemy.
This action directly relates to the theme in how if humanity is confronted with evil, every ounce of effort will be used to resist. Doublethink, the ability to hold two opposing ideas in someone’s mind at the same time, is forced into Winston by O’Brien, only confusing him further. If only Winston had accepted the doctrines of the Party, his life would have been spared. Instead, Winston is murdered because of his individuality, ensuring the inability to spread his idealistic views to the public, hungry for freedom and escape from oppression.
Winston Churchill was the exalted leader of England during World War II. One must consider why Orwell gives the name “Winston Smith” to his main character. The name Winston stands for the individuality, uniqueness, and greatness of the character, while Smith stands for the regularity of such a person. In the failing governmental system in 1984, even the greatest person can be shoved aside and told to work in a menial job, negating all hope of ever reaching his full potential.
Because Winston is so common, so real, it is easy to identify with him and to imagine being in his shoes. Winston embodies the values of a civilized society: peace, freedom, democracy, love, and decency. When Winston is killed, these things are destroyed with him. He represents the struggle between good and evil, and there is no mistaking where the lines are drawn. A Totalitarian government does not permit these characteristics in their citizens, therefore insisting upon Winston’s death.
George Orwell wrote about 1984 in 1948, and the ideals he introduced can still be applied in the present. Although Winston dies at the end, Orwell is trying to show the stubbornness of human nature. We cannot forget that above all, individuality must be expressed, or the common man will have no reason, or desire, to live.
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