Free Winston Smith: A Dynamic Character Essay Example
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1984 by George Orwell
War is Peace. Freedom is Slavery. Ignorance is Strength. (1984, Chapter 1)
The English Socialist Party of Oceania (INGSOC) upholds to three slogans.These slogans are vital in understanding the real intention of the Party. INGSOC is only concerned with power and they will do everything to maintain such power. They tell the people that their goal is to create a utopian society and provide the three slogans as rationale that explains how a utopian society can be achieved.
The first slogan says “War is peace.” In 1984, the globe is divided into three powers: Oceania, Eurasia and Eastasia. Eurasia and Eastasia are in constant war against Oceania that makes the public stand behind and let their government do the fighting. Continuous war is a guarantee for the Party that their citizens will remain loyal to their government. In real-life wars, the opposing parties fight for economic and political gains. But in the world of 1984 with the three super states who have adequate resources, there was no need to call for real wars. What was needed is to maintain the heirarchy of society through the destruction of material goods that will surely end up to scarcity. And scarcity would invoke fear among the citizens making them utterly dependent on the government. War keeps the people of Oceania feeling helpless and distracted that they do not have some extra time to question the INGSOC’s dictatorship. War means peace for the Party, but it means continuous oppression against the people.
The second slogan runs, “Freedom is slavery.” This slogan sounds ironic, but the idea behind it is simple. It means that one man is not capable of doing great things on his own. One man can not build large creations such as bridges or towers without the help of other people. A slave has no power. An indiviudal with all his freedom has no power to do something large, something grandeous. By embracing freedom, one becomes a slave- a powerless individual who can not achieve great things without the help of a larger and powerful group. Through this slogan, INGSOC tells the public that they need to totally submit to the government because their total submission would mean escape from slavery.
The last of INGSOC’s slogan declares that “Ignorance is power.” This slogan is striking and interesting at the same time because we have been accustomed to the saying that “knowledge is power.” The Party desires for uncontested power that they would not want the people to gain knowledge as it will result to rebellion. Therefore, they encourage the citizens of Oceania to think and do as they say. They even have machines that scan the thoughts of the people. This slogan is not really addressed for the people, but it is their propaganda. If the citizens will remain ignorant they will not question the wrong ways of the Party and therefore, they will remain in power. This selfish principle is evident in Orwell’s novel when he writes, "The Party seeks power entirely for its own sake. We are not interested in the good of others; we are interested solely in power.” (1984 Chapter 3)
The protagonist of Orwell’s novel has the makings of a dynamic character. A dynamic character is defined as an individual who experienced a series of changes in his/her personality or character. This change is caused by important ordeals or circumstances that the character have experienced as the story progresses.
Winston Smith had undergone different changes from the initial pages of the novel until the end. From being an obedient member of the party, he turns into a skeptic and ultimately became rebellious against INGSOC. The first part of Orwell’s work describes Winston’s usual day at work. “The flat was seven flights up, and Winston, who was thirty-nine and had a varicose ulcer above his right ankle, went slowly, resting several times on the way.” (1984 Chapter 1) This passage gives an overview of Winston’s personality- weak and passive. He is a member of the Outer Party, but he is not so privileged because “Big Brother” is always watching his every movement. But he showed no defiance. He does not complain that he does not have the liberty to even go for a walk. He says its dangerous, but he does not comment that the rule is unfair.
As the story progresses, Winston develops into a more rationale character. He finally recognized that his work at the Ministry as well as his personal life in Oceania is boring. “Individualism and eccentricity” are crimes and even the thought of it is considered a “thoughtcrime.” The protagonist came into realization that a better society is possible. “'If there is hope,' wrote Winston, 'it lies in the proles.'” (1984 Chapter 8) He believes that the power to overthrow the Party lies in the hand of the working class. His affair with Julia is an eye-opener as well as a life-changing circumstance for Winston. The more he knows about Julia’s ideals, the more he becomes thirsty for rebellion. He changed from an obedient Ministry worker into a rebel when he defied the rule of the Party that hinders everyone from indulging in sexual pleasure. He fights for his love that is a strong indication that he is challenging the laws of the totalitarian government. From a fragile 39-year old guy who is suffering from varicose ulcer, he transformed into becoming the leader of the rebellion against the powerful Party.
However, his rebellion was a failure. After being tortured in the Ministry of love, his memory was programmed into being a selfless lover of Big Brother. “But it was all right, everything was all right, the struggle was finished. He had won the victory over himself. He loved Big Brother.” (1984 Part 2 Chapter 6) From being the rebel who was full of great ideals, he lost his self and became a puppet of the Party who lost his capability of asking questions. The only ability that was left in him is his programmed memory to love and serve Big Brother forever. This is a tragic ending, but it delivers a significant message to the readers. Winston is just one man who tried to challenged the barriers set by the totalitarian government. But he is just one man. He is a slave on his own. He can not accomplish great things without the help of other people. Through Winston’s downfall, Orwell advocates the moral principle that the secret to end totalitarianism or any form of oppressive government is firm unity among the citizens.
Room 101: An Important Scene in “1984”
“'You asked me once,' said O'Brien, 'what was in Room 101. I told you that you knew the answer already. Everyone knows it. The thing that is in Room 101 is the worst thing in the world.” (1984 Part 2 Chapter 5)
This dialogue of O’Brien is a very important scene in the novel because this is the introduction to the story’s climax. Here, Orwell is preparing his readers’ emotions and giving them a hint that the next pages will be filled with gruesome scenarios and miserable situations. Room 101 is a torture chamber located in the Ministry of love that is quite an irony since love and torture are two different things. What makes the chamber more intriguing is that it does not administer a single, unified punishment for all the people who committed crimes. It is personalized. It exposes the prisoner to his personal nightmare which is the worst nightmare of his life or a phobia that will definitely destroy his ability to resist and force him to resort to resigned helplessness.
It is surprising that the Party of 1984 has the power to know and record the nightmares of every citizen. However, another more surprising thing about the scene in room 101 is the revelation that Smith’s worst nightmare and phobia is rat. He fears to be attacked by mere rodents. This scene shows the vulnerable side of a man who have come a long way in his quest for freedom in Oceania. Orwell excellently used a combination of adjectives to describe how the wire cage is designed to trigger Smith’s phobia. The cage is fit for his face with a trap door that invites the hungry rats to feed on Smith’s flesh. This challenge that seems simple or at least bearable for a 39-year old guy have ironically became the cause of his betrayal. He spares his face from being attacked by rats by volunteering Julia to suffer the torture in lieu of him. This scene indicates two possibilities- first, Smith was a great coward that he was not able to endure the easy challenge. Or, his love for Julia is not enough that he gave it up so easily at the threat of torture. Whatever the true reason is, the harsh reality shows that they have lost the battle against the Party.
The scene in Room 101 is one of the most heart-breaking and emotional part of the novel. O’Brien’s intention of threatening Smith with rats is not actually to make him do the challenge. O’Brien knows that it would urge the frail protagonist to betray the person that he loved. Room 101 is where his treasured relationship with Julia finally ended. Sadly, it is the relationship that have given him the strength to lead the Brotherhood. But what is more tragic is that, his passion to rebel against the party in order to create a better world was also lost. Forever.
The depiction of Room 101 in Orwell’s novel have influenced the usage of the term in the present era. Media and modern literature have adopted the concept behind the term like Big Brother UK edition. Big Brother requires housemates who violated rules to enter Room 101 and complete undesirable tasks that involve animals. Like Smith who was confronted with his worst nightmare, the housemates are also confronted with their individual fears. This is only one indication of the lasting impact of the Room 101 scene in “1984.” Because of its depiction in the novel, Room 101 had become a synonymous term for a person’s greatest fear.
Power is Not a Means, It is an End: A False Claim
In Chapter 3, O’Brien tells Winston that “power is not a means, it is an end.” (1984 Chapter 3) He explains that people who establish revolution wants to establish dictatorship when such revolution have succeeded. O’Brien emphasizes that power is the only goal of all mission and nothing is more important than gaining absolute power. However, I disagree with his idea that power is not a means. For me, government should use power not as an end goal, but as a means towards achieving a nobler purpose. This purpose is to promote the welfare and happiness of the greater number that is consisted of the civilians and the working class.
The government is an institution who has the sole power to enact laws and policies that is meant to create social order. I believe that elected officials should develop the virtue of selflessness, the attitude of putting the needs of majority first before his personal needs or happiness. Although the government has the power to ask for the citizens’ obedience, they should not abuse and use this power for personal gains-either material or political. Government should not control the public and private life of its people just to achieve greater power. O’Brien highlights the totalitarian rule that no one should show opposition against the government. This is because of the known fact that opposition is a threat to the Party’s power. Personally, I believe that this totalitarian policy is unfair and irrational. The government must employ its power to encourage the people to express their opinions about a particular issue. Afterall, the state’s decisions such as implimenting laws, banning policies and legalizing acts all affect the destiny of its people. It is not fair that the government should use its power in suppressing their point of views on things that affect their lives. This is a reality. Government are formed to serve the people. The citizens have given them the power to lead. And when they accepted such power, their goal is to use that power for the better.
The government should use their power as a means to create better changes and to alter the world into a better society that respects everyone’s freedom, liberty and happiness. Its goal is not to attain absolute power, but to make use of its power to attain a higher cause that benefits the majority of the population. Again, I do not agree that power is an end. It is not suppose to be a goal. It is a means to attain selfless and positive goals that will have a beneficial impact on the quality of life of every citizen. This ideal makes me appreciate America even more. Democracy tells the government that power is not a mission. This means that when a person runs for a post in the government office, his goal is to make things better. And how would he do this? He will do this by using his power.
Letter to Cassy
I just read George Orwell’s novel entitled “1984” and I love the story especially how Orwell employed the different elements of fiction in presenting a sci-fi classic. The first thing that came to my mind after reading it is that you’re going to love it as well.
What I love about the novel is the simplicity of the language. Although it is a science fiction and involves terminologies that I am not familiar with, Orwell have provided an elaborate definition of the strange terms. But there are also familiar terms that you can relate to like “Big Brother” who sounds like the mysterious man in the reality show. Its interesting because like Big Brother in the TV show, “Big Brother” in 1984 also sees everything that the characters do. He is even more advanced because he can scan their thoughts and he can tell if someone have dark plans going on in their minds. Reading the novel is like you’re traveling to a distant future. I am not a great fan of science, but Orwell’s novel makes me interested in the things that science can do.
Orwell’s language is simple, vivid, and descriptive so you won’t have to worry about rereading the text just to fully understand a single passage. He will take you to the world that exists in “1984” through his clear descriptions of towers, machines, and advanced technology. Aside from the language, I love the story’s protagonist. By the way his name is Winston Smith. You will see how he does amazing things despite his physical vulnerability. His character development was a surprise and you’ll be more shocked at how he had become at the end of the story. The novel also tackles serious issues that will hone your critical thinking about the political structure and the current American government. Most importantly, reading “1984” will make you appreciate democracy even more. Unlike most contemporary novels that deal primarily on romance, Orwell’s novel opens a lot of themes. Ignorance, oppression, and the power of technology over human nature are just some of the important themes tackled in the novel. I believe that these themes are essential in the real life and that is why you should read the story.
There are many other interesting stuff about the novel, but I will not discuss all of them. I do not want this letter to be a spoiler. Hope you can have the spare time to read it. And can you do me another favor? Please tell me what you think about it after you’ve read it. I’d really love to know.
Orwell, George. “1984.” Web. 10 Mar. 2015. <http://gutenberg.net.au/ebooks01/0100021.txt>
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