Essay English Grade 12 ISU Checkpoint 3

Submitted By frankielapenna
Words: 1967
Pages: 8

Christopher Vecchi
Ms. Spencer Hill
ENG 4U
27 May 2015
The Plight of an Insurgent George Orwell creates a dark, depressing and pessimistic world in his novel Nineteen Eighty-Four, where the government has full control over its subjects. The protagonist, Winston Smith, is a Party member who has grown to resent the society that he lives in. He is portrayed as an individual that begins to lose his sanity due to the strict rules of society. There are only two possible outcomes, he either conforms to their ideals, or he begins to bring change through his desires. His rebellious actions are not only caused by his curiosity and reflective character, but also due to the absence of a maternal figure. Winston’s inquisitive nature leads him on an eventful journey, ultimately resulting in his own self-destruction. The terrifying possibilities of totalitarianism and an outlandish world are experienced through the eyes of Winston Smith. His individuality and intellectual ability are threatened throughout the novel, enabling the reader to observe and understand the harsh oppression that is instilled by the Party and leader, Big Brother. Winston is desperate to understand the purpose of the Party’s fight to obtain absolute power in Oceania. His profound reflections give the reader a chance to explore the novel’s important themes of psychological and physical manipulation. Winston’s deep hatred for the Party causes him to rebel and test the limitations of its power. He commits several crimes throughout the novel, ranging from writing, “DOWN WITH BIG BROTHER” (Orwell 18) in his diary, to having an illegal love affair with Julia, and lastly being conditioned by the anti-Party Brotherhood. As a consequence of Winston’s rebellion, he is captured by the Thought Police, led by O’Brien. This campaign of physical and psychological torture transforms Winston into a loyal subject of Big Brother. In the article The Wall of Blackness: A Psychological Approach to 1984 written by Marcus Smith, he touches on the complexity of Winston’s Oedipal characterization: What is remarkable and important is the way Winston’s characterization affects the meaning of 1984. The party, says O’Brien, is “interested solely in power.”… And the key to power is control of the past of history, but also the past as it operates in the individual unconscious. Since the Party never does capture Winston’s unconscious, its quest for power is frustrated… At the start of 1984 Winston is searching for a substitute mother and at the end of the book he “finds” her in Big Brother. (Smith 314)
His fatal flaw is his sense of pessimism and intense paranoia about the Party, making him fear punishment. To Winston, optimism is unachievable and he believes that all hope is lost. Winston’s goal of liberating himself becomes hopeless, as the people he trusts end up betraying him. Winston’s attempt to overthrow the hierarchy results in failure, rather than the defeat of Big Brother. He becomes concerned about his own sanity and physical wellbeing and tries to withstand being conformed to society. Marcus Smith examines Orwell’s psychological development of the protagonist and he explains how the novel shapes Winston’s character to be:
A very serious distortion…[1984] is not simply an externally developed portrait of an anti-Utopian society; rather deals with the inexorable conflict between an ultra-rational, totalitarian social ideal, and the irrational neurotic reactions of an individual human being… Winston is clearly and carefully developed along familiar Oedipal lines and an accurate understanding of 1984 must take this into account and consider why he behaves the way he does and how this affects the total meaning of Orwell’s novel. (Smith 311)
Winston himself is a low-level Party member, which essentially makes him jealous of those who are of a higher status. Winston is subjected to both the physical and mental constraints set by the Party, and realizes that the…