Yes, one of the party's goal is to kill the animal instinct. To take the pleasure away from sex. And to do so there is a Junior Anti-Sex League, sex talks once a month for people in puberty, lots of banners, posters and pamphlets... anything to remind the people that the sexual act is bad. There is a porn factory in the fiction department, but all the workers are unmarried females, as the male has more difficulty in controlling their sex hormones. The party encourages marriage and making love only to procreate, to have babies. And when no babies were made, the couple was encouraged to part. These ideologies worked especially well with women. Katherine, Winston's wife, called it "Our duty to the party", which Winston hated. To him, Katherine was an idiot who's only reason to live was to please the party, and who had banners and slogans in her head instead of a brain.
Thankfully for him, many years after they had parted, Winston met Julia, who tells him that she is corrupted to the bone. Her first love affair was at the age of 16 with a 60 year old man, and she's had sex "scores of time ever since". Winston told her that the more men she slept with, the better. He asked her if she like the sexual sex itself, and she said yes. The weird part is, she is part of the Junior Anti-Sex League, she works multiple hours after her working hours in the fiction department to hand out pamphlets and make banners and post the "rot all around London". But that is all an act, she only does it so that she does not draw attention to her, so that it doesn't make her suspicious. "Always yell with the crowd" she would say. She still has her animal instinct inside of her. Winston and Julia are just made for each other.
Also, if succeeding in having children, parents are encouraged to love them and take care of them and make them grow and educate them according to the principles of INGSOC. On the other hand, the children are taught and encouraged to by cautious, attentive, to spy on their parents and report them to the Thought Police. WHAT?!?!?!?!?!?!? Poor parents, they who raise their children as best as they could, with love and care and attention, their children are encouraged to report them. They kill the very reason they are alive!
For the slightest, stupid, little mistake, one could reported with a goodbye. A flicker of the eye, an abnormal heartbeat, anything can get one reported. This has been shown throughout several places inside the book, probably so that the reader understands the danger of having a nervous system, and how easily it can betray you. Secret polices, telescreens and microphones are everywhere, so any mistake or abnormality can be easily picked up. And when one disappears, they are tortured in every possible way so that they end up betraying their close ones. They they are killed. To avoid this, one might commit suicide, because in the end, the result is the same.
A long time ago, I had asked myself: "why does Winston wake up with the word Shakespeare on his lips?"
After a lot of thinking and reflections, I might have found the answer.
Winston was dreaming about his mother, his younger sibling, and their sacrifice in order for him to be alive. he wondered why was it that people no longer held hands and showed affection for one another. Why was it that friends and families no longer came in help to those who needed it. Why it was that you could no longer feel the love in the air. In Romeo and Juliet, from Shakespeare, the fourteen year old lovers would be ready to sacrifice themselves for the other, and they cannot imagine a world where they would have to live without the other. It is a tragedy, yes, but it is a very passionate one, ad though it was stupid of them to kill themselves for the other. And it was very romantic too. (Love brings people to do very stupid things). They did it out of love for the other.
The thing is, we do not see any more of this love and passion in 1984. Winston was probably dreaming of love and care, and they only example he could find was Shakespeare's plays. Or maybe not the ONLY one, but perhaps the strongest one.
I have another question; what exactly are the "proles"?
Winston often says: "if there is hope, it lies in the proles," but what are they?
"(...) even the date of the year has become uncertain." (page 44)
Can you imagine living in a world where the very date of the year is unknown. When you really think about it, it's really sad. Ask me the date of the year any time, and I'll answer it without a doubt (we are in 2015). But ask it to a citizen in this book, and they'll probably hesitate for several seconds, perhaps even minutes, before they'll come up with their best answer. But even then, it is not guaranteed that it is the correct date.
In a world where anarchy rules over the society, don't be surprised to get no answer when you ask what date it is.
To create a fake illusion to the population, the party will invent a heroic past to a dead soldier. (page 50)
That is hard core controlling! And he "who never existed in the present, now existed in the past". (page 50)
It makes me realize that I am really happy to live in a society where I don't have to doubt every piece of information I learn, where I know that my past isn't just a bunch of made up lies, and where I can easily find answers to the multiple questions I have.
Now, I am not living with these character. I am not watching the scene. It is not a movie, but merely words on a page. There is no description what so ever about the way he said this. I have no way of knowing if these words were all an act, or if he truly meant it. But whether it was an act or not, these words have traumatized me.
How could one take so much pleasure in watching people die? Watching their fellow neighbours struggle as they take their last gulps of air before the final moment. How can one enjoy watching another suffer a terrible death? How can one not flinch in front of this spectacle of the devil? How could one take into account so many details of the murdering of people?
It makes me wonder if this is the result of living for years and years under the ruling of a totalitarian government. Syme truly disgusts me.
And he goes on and on about the destruction of words. Syme is probably my least favourite character of this book. Scratch that, he is DEFINITELY my least favourite character. Not only does he enjoy watching people die, he also loves the "art' of destroying words. That right there is censorship of knowledge. The new edition of this dictionary censors knowledge of the past, it censors words that took years and years to create and developed. It closes a door to technology, advancing in time, the spread of ideas, and futurism.
I might be repeating myself, but I found a passage on page 61 to 62 that clearly explains that gullible people believe every lie that is being told. The passage explains that it was announced that the chocolate rationc was reduced to 20 grammes a week, but the next day, it was announced that it was raised to 20 grammes a week. To these news, Winston reflects:
"Was it possible that they could swallow that, after only twenty-four hours? Yes, they swallowed it. Parsons swallowed it easily, with the stupidity of an animal. The eyeless creature swallowed it fanatically, passionately, with a furious desire to track down, denounce and vaporize anyone who should suggest that last week the ration had been thirty grammes. Syme, too-in some more complex way of double think-Syme swallowed it. was he, then, alone in the possession of a memory?"
Is Winston the only one who didn't swallow it??? How could believe these sort of things so easily??? Once again, it makes me wonder if this is the result of being raised in a totalitarian society.
Also, what does he mean by "being alone in the possession of a memory"? I get that he can feel lonely, like he has no one to share his secrets with, that all he can do is painfully watch as his fellow citizens burn down into this empire of lies. But he being the only one "in the possession of a memory"? As though the memory of all th other people have been WIPED OUT? ERASED COMPLETELY??? Is that even possible?
I have mixed emotions about this book. I don't know whether to like it, or to not like it. I am a very influential person, my opinion can easily be altered. Half the people I have spoken to about this book said it was terrible, and half the people told me it was very well written. More specifically, those who told me it sucked were all people my age, and those who said they loved it were adults. Which only proves one thing; "teenagers of today cannot appreciate real literature", phrase that is often used, but surprisingly true. Our type of books usually go along the lines of adventure, fantasy, romance, crime... basically things that makes our hearts beat faster and faster. Adults... well I'm not an adult, so I have no idea what they like.
One thing for sure, it is a very confusing novel, probably because it was written in the 1940s. The writing style has changed a lot since then, so of course I might not fully understand it. Nonetheless, I find it a very good book (as I find every book good), but it's just not my style. It's not awesome, but it's good. If it would have been written more recently, I would have probably understood it more, and that would make me appreciate it more. But for now, it is very confusing.
There is something very confusing about this book. There are probably many different versions because the other day I was walking around when I found a torn page on the floor. I picked it up, and realized that it was actually page 79 and 80 of the very book I am reading, 1984. But the words on the page did not seem familiar. I had read that very page in my book the day before and it did not correspond with the page I was holding in my hands. I kept the page. Below are both page 80 (left, the page from the book; right, the page I found on the floor):
Completely different, right? In one he watches the men, in the other, he talks to them. They are both important pieces of information and they should both be in the book. But that's not the weirdest part. The weirdest part is, looking back over my notes, I found out that a passage on page 44 looked very similar to the one I found on the floor. Page 44! That is very far from page 80! The passage on page 44 says: " Very likely no boots were produced at all. Likelier still, nobody knew how much had been produced, much less cared. All one knew was that every quarter astronomical numbers of boots were produced on paper, while perhaps half the population of Oceania went barefoot." While the one on page 80 simply says: "Here in London, the great mass of people never had enough to eat from birth to death. Half of them didn't even have boots on their feet."
Different scenes, different situations, but in both passage the same idea; there is not enough for the population. The people starve to death, they don't have proper clothing. It is devastating, but that's how life is.
I actually don't remember reading this in any other pages. It s very strange, and I would like to solve the mystery behind the pages.
"Thoughtcrime does not entail death: thoughtcrime IS death." (page 30)
I have not much to say about this quote because it is self-explanatory. I still find that it is a very powerful quote. My interpretation of it is this: thoughtcrime, or the act of thinking illegal thoughts (or perhaps even thinking in general), is punished by death. That is probably something promoted by the party. But Winston has a different way of thinking. To him, having illegal thoughts does not mean that it will be punished by death. To him, believing that thoughts are illegal IS death. Not physical death, but mental death. The death of the soul. Believing in the party, eating all it's lies, worshipping the terrible slogans, these are all ways of killing one's soul. And by that I mean that the people no longer have personality, they are slaves of the government, their only reason to live is to please it. They are like political zombies, but instead of eating brains, they crave lying slogans.
I had previously asked: "What is INGSOC?" Well, after some research, here is what I have found:
The fact that Winston might be one or THE only one in his society to doubt Big Brother (he might not be the only one, but it certainly looks like it though) makes me think of some song lyrics... Here they are:
Why did I pick these lyrics? How does it have anything to do with 1984? I will be more than happy to answer these questions. You see, when I read 1984, these lyrics are ALWAYS coming back to me. I just think that they represent what Winston must be feeling towards the citizens of the society.
"Look at these people, amazing how sheep will show up for the slaughter"... Look at these people, amazing how they will play with danger and go get killed, metaphorically speaking. It is their souls that are killed by the government. They will eat all the lies, they will let the propaganda replace their reason. But when they are caught and reported they disappear. As far I know, they might be dead.
"You lined up like lemming you led to the water"... They'll line up to be the first ones to get anything, whether it be water, pots and pans, razor blades... And they're willing to fight to death to get them. They're condemning themselves. It is pathetic to see that, but we have to remember that they own almost nothing. It's amazing how people can turn into animals when it comes down to survival (like when the women were fighting for the saucepans). And Winston, well he has to watch all of this. He had been so hopeful when he had first the screams of the women, thinking it was a riot, but nope. Not even close.
"Winston watched them disgustingly. And yet, for just a moment, what almost frightening power had sounded in that cry from only a few hundred throats! Why was it that they could never shout like that about anything that mattered?" (page 73)
Winston hoped so much for a riot, for a rebellion, for them to open their eyes and see what the world has become, which brings me to the third line of the song...
"Why can't they see what I see? Why can't they hear the lies?"... To me, this line is the most powerful. When I hear it, read it, or sing it, I am actually able to feel the pain of the protagonist, understand what it must feel like never to be heard or seen, to be alone in this world. When Winston witnessed the fighting women, he had hoped so badly that it was a rebellion. But then he realized... If I were Winston, I would have probably screamed this line at the top of my lungs. I would probably get caught, but it would have been worth it. Through this line, I can understand Winston's sickness of people so gullible they can't make the difference between a truth and a lies. "Why can't they hear the lies?" Because they are slaves of the society, they are puppets controlled by they master.
Book title: Morgane, Starlette américaine
Author: Annie Lavigne
Getting in context: Morgane is a French girl who, with her best friend, came to America to find freedom. They meet an American boy, James, who tell them that America's democracy is not exactly what they were thinking...
James is connecting totalitarianism to the situation they are presently living in the States, and he is right about it too. Now, I am not an American citizen, and neither is the author of this book, so I have no idea of how if must feel to be an American. But with those few lines I can get a basic idea of their current situation. Even though the United States says it represents ideas of rights and freedom and all that, it really isn't. James may be exaggerating about the fact that the States might become totalitarian, but he is trying to get a point across. And what better way to make a statement than to reference 1984, THE most totalitarian book ever?
I think that James is right because, well, here's why:
The Thirteen Colonies fought to be free from Great Britain, which caused the American Revolution. They have succeeded in getting free, and it became a democracy. Now we have many new things like technology, which would make the people more dependent, right?
In a way, yes, because people have the liberty of doing what they want. They can express their opinions, they can enjoy watching videos of other people expressing their opinions, they can get all the answers to their questions in a matter of seconds... But more technology also means that more control from the government. There is a lot of censorship and supervising systems. Take for example security cameras. With those, any criminal can be caught, yes, but that also means that people have a lot less freedom. "The freedom of Americans being threatened" said James, and if he is right, then the system ha chances of becoming totalitarian. Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but in many years from now.
Ever heard of "Uncle Sam Wants You for the U.S. Army"? Kinda makes me think of "Big Brother is Watching You". Uncle Sam is a personification of the U.S. government that is often used. It would come from a man named Samuel Wilson, a meat packer during the war of 1812. Anyway, my point is that this poster was used to get people join in the U.S. army to fight the war. In a way, it could be considered as propaganda because the government is trying to get people to do something. "Big Brother is Watching You" has a similar function, except that the government threatens the population about what they are doing.
"It was a refrain that was often heard in moments of overwhelming emotion. Partly it was a sort of hymn to the wisdom and majesty of Big Brother, but still more it was an act of self-hypnosis, a deliberate drowning of consciousness by means of rhythmic noise." (page 18)
These words are what Winston thinks about the people chanting "B-B..... B-B", and I couldn't agree more with him. These people are hypnotising themselves into thinking that Big Brother is worth worshipping, the one, the almighty Big Brother. After years and years of being told over and over again that Big Brother is always right, that he is the supreme authority, that he is the greatest leader, people start believing him. People start believing all the lies. Even the most obvious ones, like the fact that the party had invented aircraft.
Speaking of lies, Winston later reads a children history book he borrowed from Mrs Parsons. Here is an excerpt of the book:
Now, Winston says that he doubts any of this is true. For some reason he seems to be the only one in the entire society who actually doubts the party's lies and propaganda. However, now he starts to wonder if their ENTIRE past is just a lie. He wonders about the past, what it must have been really like back then. He starts to doubt the existence of things that we, the reader, actually know have or still exist, like top hats. Imagine if everyone would think like Winston, imagine if everyone would wonder about the truths they have lost.
This reminds me of when Equality, from the novella Anthem, asks: "what are the words we have lost?" speaking of the words that characterize individualism, mainly, "I". It must be extremely frustrating and emotionally difficult for someone to know that a secret is kept away from them, but not just any type of secret, a secret of the past. Because the past is erasable, if not transformable, so without proper proof we can never really know the secrets of the past. All there is left to do, is to believe the lies.
"Whether he wrote "DOWN WITH BIG BROTHER", or whether he refrained from writing it, made no difference. Whether he went on with the diary,or whether he did not go on with it, made no difference. The Thought Police will get him just the same." (page 21)
For some reason the first thing that pops into my mind when I read these sentences is the first line of the book Anthem by Ayn Rand. The line is "It is a sin to write this". After all, both Equality and Winston have committed a crime, the crime of writing their thoughts. The difference is, if Equality puts down his diary, return to work and never come back to his secret tunnel ever again, he will probably never be caught. Winston, however, stated that he will be caught no matter what. And I think he is right. I am only 80 pages in the book and for now he is still safe, but his add up of mistakes will probably get him sold out.
This passage (page 25) clearly demonstrates the effect of propaganda on children. Kids are called "child heroes" for reporting THEIR OWN PARENTS to the Thought Police, and I find that's just horrible. The children don't understand the gravity of the situation or the consequences of one's act. And I don't mean just the Parson children. I mean most of the children in this society, if not all of them. To them, the hanging is merely a show. To them, killing people with fake guns and calling them traitors is all just a game. In their world, everything will be fine by the end of the day. They take great pleasure in seeing people getting caught for their mistakes because it isn't real. Not to them. But sometimes though, they seem to grasp the idea of what is going on, and, as shown above, "it was not altogether a game".
Game or not, nothing is more real to their parents, who watch their babies grow up into murderous adults with slogans of Big Brother as their only reason to live. In this case, the Parson parents have very different ways of interpreting their children's ambitions.
Mrs Parson, the mother of the children in this passage, is an exhausted from their tormenting. She has to take care of these little monsters, and she can't control them and tell them to stop being so... excited about traitors. And why would she? After all, the government ENCOURAGES children to report anyone suspicious, so I guess all that Mrs Parson can do about it is sit and watch. Winston describes her as "a colourless, crushed-looking woman, with wispy hair and a lined face" (page 22), and later observes that she has dust in the lines of her face. Probably from being harassed by her own children. I may be exaggerating but Mrs Parsons is a slave of society. Worse, even, she is a slave of her own children, who are slaves of society.
Mr Parson, the father, is a completely different person. Winston describes him as a "tubby, middle-sized man with fair hair and a froglike face. (...) His whole appearance was that of a little boy grown large," (pages 58-59) and the description goes on and on. Basically, that he was a fat man with the spirit of a child. Mr Parsons actually encourages his children to be suspicious, to run after the bad guys. He would probably even come hunt spies down if it weren't for his working hours. He'll gladly take his children to the hanging, when he can. Mr Parson is exactly the type of "model" the government would like the public to follow.
All in all, the party's propaganda does not only affect the children, it also affects the adults. And those who are not affected by it, or at least, not in the desired way, are in danger of getting eliminated.
The Party's brainwashing is so good, it gets the citizens confused. Let me explain: the Party can make any lie come true, any truth become lie. It can claim to have invented something or came up with a certain idea without anyone batting an eye. The citizens are gullible and will believe just about anything... The Party is very strong so it will be very hard for Winston or anyone else to take it down or even try to figure out the puzzle... Telling what is real from when isn't, knowing what is true and what is invented... Even the date of the year is uncertain, so trying to solve this mystery, well good luck with that. And even if you can, "You could prove nothing". The Party can erase all traces that could lead to the key of bringing it down. And even if Winston DID find this key, how could he convince and show the population that the Party is lying to them?
He has something against them! He holds a very valuable piece of information... I want to know what he did with it!!! He could blackmail the Party, he could lead a revolution against the government! Finished with the Totalitarian era! What did he do with it?
Just like in Winston's dream, can "Big Brother and the Party and the Thought Police be swept into nothingness by a single splendid movement of the arm"? Just like they don't matter, just like mud is washed away by rain...
"A single flicker of the eye could give you away"...
I was right... this is actually a line I have used in one of my poems BEFORE I even read it in the book...
Winston's a rebel! Of course, opening the diary in the first place is a crime so he can't get into any more trouble that he already is in... But writing in this diary is his only way of expressing his feelings openly... Then again, he could probably be killed if it is found... However he was brilliant to put a speck of dust on a corner of the book to see if someone had touched it!
Kind of random but I recently noticed that if I rearrange the numbers of the date on my Smithsonian sweater, it makes "1984".... I was pretty freaked out when I found out but I think it's pretty cool.