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Response to 1984

Winston Smith is the main character in George Orwell’s novel, 1984. Winston exists in a totalitarian state, Oceana, where the government is known as Big Brother and they are able to see and hear everything through Telescreens placed in the citizens’ homes. Winston is against the totalitarian principle however he goes along with it for most of his life. Readers are introduced to Winston’s rebellion almost immediately in the text, as we see him avoiding the Telescreens and describing it as being ‘safer’ (p3). As he writes in his diary, readers are introduced to a more personal side of Winston through his words. If is blatantly clear that he is against the Big Brother as he unconsciously writes ‘Down with Big Brother’ over and over again in his diary. The fact that he even has a diary is against the rules and shows that he is resisting the authority of Big Brother through his actions. Winston character seems to contradict his rebellion. He is not the typical rebel since he seems so quiet and ordinary. His character is quite the opposite of the Julia, who possesses an uncanny spirit that is usually seen in a traitor.

The quote that stood out most to me throughout this story was one Winston wrote in his diary, “Until they become conscious they will never rebel, and until after they have rebelled they cannot become conscious.” (p73) This rings true throughout the story more so with Julia who seems oblivious to the political totalitarianism that exists until Winston begins explaining things to her. She is, as Winston states, “…only a rebel from the waist downwards.” (p159)  Winston, however, has always been aware and is strenghtened by his love affair with Julia. This simple forbidden act is what enrages him even more and give him the courage to meet with O’Brien and enlist in the Brotherhood. It is through Winston’s influence that Julia joins as well. He has made her conscious and therefore caused her true rebellion.

These people are simply existing in this totalitarian world and not realizing the power is in their hands. They have not allowed themselves to think rationally and make themselves become ‘conscious’ which is the reason they are not rebelling. They are, for the most part, accepting what they are told, even when they know it is not true. The Big Brother has brainwashed the people of Oceania to believe the most absurd things such as thinking on your own accord is a thought crime and punishable by law. This novel was an eye opener for me at just how much the government can have control over your life. Parts of it made me sick to my stomach to see the apathy in the lives of these people. I wondered what I would do in such a situation. Would I have the courage to rebel or would I simply comply to what was expected until my death? Would I even know how to think freely or would all the freedoms and privileges I am privy to now be just a dream?

~ by Kenisha on February 6, 2012.

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