Violence In George Orwell's 1984

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For centuries, dystopian novels have shown the worst-case scenarios of humanity's future. With the rise of dictatorial communist groups in the 1900s, came an increase in such novels. George Orwell’s 1984 is a negative utopian story written in 1949 to warn society about the dangers of totalitarianism. In a country with only one political mechanism, the Party uses telescreens to constantly monitor the people, and all opponents of the Party virtually disappear. Due to his fatalism, the protagonist Winston Smith lives in constant fear of being vaporized by the Party, but this does not stop him from having unorthodox ideas about politics and humanity. Consequently, Winston must suppress his thoughts so that the Party does not suspect him of “thoughtcrime.” …show more content…
How to Read Literature Like a Professor describes violence as “ of the most personal and even intimate acts between human beings, but it can also be cultural and societal in its implications” (Foster 95). Violence in literature is symbolic and metaphorical (Foster 98). In 1984, societal violence includes public hangings and the Two Minutes Hate. These events trigger violent reactions from the participants and serve as an outlet for pent-up anger and frustration. During the Two Minutes Hate, Winston thinks, “A hideous ecstasy of fear and vindictiveness, a desire to kill, to torture, to smash faces in with a sledge hammer, seem[s] to flow through the whole group of people like an electric current…” (Orwell 14). The Two Minutes Hate shows the Party’s control of the people's unexpressed emotions and directs those emotions towards a common enemy. Winston’s imprisonment at the Ministry of Love depicts how violence affects one’s mentality and emotions. Even though O’Brien administers the torture Winston endures, Winston does not blame O’Brien, but begins to love him and praise his intelligence. Winston says O’Brien is “...the tormentor, he [is] the protector, he [is] the inquisitor, he [is] the friend” (Orwell 244). Under the physical pain and oppression, Winston’s strength and individuality break, and he accepts the Party’s teachings. This shows violence is effective for propaganda and brainwashing purposes. By destroying Winston’s former bonds, O’Brien has created a new, intimate bond with Winston in order to instill the Party’s virtues. Violence contributes greatly to Orwell’s purpose in writing 1984 as a commentary on