Response Paper on What the Ending of “1984” by George Orwell Signifies
On a thin surface the ending of George Orwell’s 1984 ripples with the idea of acceptance. After the shopkeepers betrayal, Winston and Julia discovered in their secret annex and consequently delivered into the Thought Polices hands. From this moment on both Winston and Julia heightened to the awareness of what is next. Both transferred to the Ministry of love for interrogation swiftly followed by systematic physiological and physical torture. This torture consists of three stages, learning, understanding, and absolute acceptance of the Party’s reality. These ideologies chewed away throughout the book at Winston’s fundamental ideals. Winston and Julia both grew to hate the party, rallying against it in both their thoughts by actions and behaviors as well. The Party’s main object is absolute acceptance of their Doctrine. Winston must painfully accept eventually.
However, this particular book seems layered like an onion tearfully peeling away each layer to expose the soft underbelly in all of us. The fear of self; which is signified by room 101 where they sent Winston when he refused to betray himself, his love, and his absolute hatred for Big Brother. The final step has Winston facing his biggest fears, rats placed in a cage strapped to his face ready to tear into his skull. In a moment of absolute terror Winston screams out “Do it to Julia” betraying not only her but also the very core of himself. The one thing he believed they could never touch, could never get at, resonated from him the way a gavel echoes with justice in a courtroom.
Throughout the endless torture; the electroshock, the brainwashing, the uncertainty of facts such as 4+4=5, the movement of the underground, while “rotting away” Winston like Rene Descartes who exercised the daemons of doubt to discover that he indeed was a thinking being, held to a single truth that no matter what happened he would not betray himself. This was the validation of Winston’s life and action and through all the beating and psychological manipulation he confesses aloud that he had not betrayed Julia, “had not stopped loving her; his feeling toward her had remained the same”. Winston believed that love is bigger even than death and pain, bigger than anything else he could think of. That he was choosing the pain of love even if that meant everlasting damnation in hell. Winston knows the hell he would face was a reflection of who he really was and he could not suffer with the thought of this discovery. In the end, Winston’s acceptance of the Party’s doctrine spread through him as if a cancer and this sickness justified his new love; Big Brother.
Pulsating with a warning through every page of the book (1984), is perhaps the most significant layer of all, it hits us square in the nose and forces the audience to experience and face the dreaded and painful hints of totalitarianism. It is difficult not see Nazi Germany emerge with torturous imagery from 1984. The constant lies, wars, and the influence of ideals that they command over its citizens. Orwell shows this in the societies of its brothers, and its neighbors. In this extremely strict, social situation, it is very difficult for individuals to find themselves outside of the social fabric of the Party. This is the importance of Orwell’s writings as the last few sentences of his prose stab into us like a double edge sword and we come to terms with the fact that there are no hero’s in these pages. Julia speaks as if suddenly transformed into a guru to Winston on a park bench. “Sometimes,” she said, “they threaten you with something—somethings you cant stand up to that threat, you just cant even think about it. It is then you say, don’t do it to me, do it to somebody else.” Perhaps you might pretend, afterwards, that it was only a trick and you just said it to make them stop but did not really mean it. However, everyone knows that is not true. At the time when this occurs, you do mean it. You think there is no other way of saving yourself and you are quite ready to save yourself that way. You want it to happen to the other person. You do not give a damn what they suffer. All you care about is yourself. The ball and chain that connects you is this continued threat of totalitarianism. This is where it begins to ring true, crushing the individual and as the Party says, “curing” us of our insanity by stripping away the abstract power and principle of self!