Themes in 1984
With the rapidly advancing nature of technology and changes in political structure, what once was considered science fiction has in many instances taken on a tinge of reality. Perhaps nowhere is this more readily apparent than with George Orwell’s seminal text, 1984. This dystopian exploration of a fictional region called Oceania contains within it the seeds that would later comes to blossom in surveillance cameras, all-powerful Internet search engines, and in many instances the very structure of government itself. While Orwell ultimately presents a cynical vision, a number of prominent characters voice objections to Oceania’s totalitarian society. Most prominent in these regards is the protagonist Winston. This essay functions as a support of Winston’s perspective in 1984.
Throughout 1984 Winston constitutes perhaps the most comprehensive rejection of the totalitarian government. From an overarching perspective one must consider that while the totalitarian regime in 1984 has been able to greatly reduce crime and other dysfunctional aspects of the state, it has done so through great restriction of human rights. For instance, even Winston’s capacity for love is oppressed as it means his loyalty will be diverted from the Party. It’s clear that such trade-offs are unacceptable. While nobody would argue that the reduction of crime and the increase of productivity are important goals, ultimately they are secondary to the more important exploration of the human spirit. In these regards, self-expression, creativity and the capacity for love are so central to the human experience that too deeply oppressing them for state goals is inimical to the very nature of human existence.
While Winston constitutes a broad ranging critique of totalitarianism, he also makes a number of specific criticisms of this structure. He notes, “Not merely the validity of experience, but the very existence of external reality was tacitly denied by their philosophy” (Orwell, pg. 37). In these regards, one considers the way that politicians often interpret reality in fanciful ways. Both conservative and liberal politicians regularly engage in a process of misrepresenting facts as a means of advancing their own political agendas. Rather than achieve transparent and objective progress they almost exclusively equivocate through public speeches and interviews. While academic institutions have rigid standards for the theories, the political realm is able to operate in relative impunity. While Orwell takes such equivocations to a hyperbolic extreme, I believe to an extent his is satirizing these very elements. Ultimately, it’s clear that Winston’s perspective in these regards is highly valid.
In conclusion, this essay has argued in favor of Winston’s perspective in George Orwell’s 1984. In this context of understanding, Winston’s rejection of Oceania’s totalitarian regime is demonstrated to be valid as this regime seeks to distinguish elements of the human spirit that are essential to existence. In addition, Winston’s rejection of the denial of objective reality is supported, as such a paradigm allows for the equivocation of facts and reduced accountability. Ultimately, it’s clear that Winston represents Orwell’s most comprehensive rejection of totalitarianism and that individuals must heed his warnings or risk such social and cultural oppression.
Orwell, George. 1984. New York: Penguin Classics. 1984.