Development of Winston Smith in 1984


23 Mar 2015 15 Dec 2017

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The ideological development of Winston Smith in 1984

One of the two most famous books of George Orwell, 1984, depicts a pessimistic vision of the future world consisting of three totalitarian states; Oceania, Eurasia, and Eastasia, constantly at war with each other and keeping masses under careful observation and entire control. Therefore, the average people in 1984 cannot develop in any ways, except physically, because all their thoughts and ideas are under control of the Party. Emotions are unwanted, except for the devoted love of Big Brother, and the profound hate of Emmanuel Goldstein, and the enemies of the Party. Party members are being watched through telescreens all day, so when the first symptoms of unorthodoxy are noticed, they can be “cured” immediately. In addition, telescreens are constantly providing people with the appropriate ideas.

Even the future language of Oceania, Newspeak, prevents people from “unorthodox” thoughts. All he unnecessary words, such as the ones bearing only slight differences, are being removed from the dictionary. The rest of the words are being deprived of their secondary and “improper” meanings. Accordingly, in the near future, party members are not going to be able to think of inadequate ideas.

Winston Smith seems to be the only man in London who has human thoughts. There might be other people like him around, but due to the current system, people are prevented from showing their “unorthodox” thoughts and feelings. Winston Smith is an ordinary party member, except for the fact that he is a thinking creature. He has had thoughts long before he starts to write his diary, and his thoughts have not been appropriate in the eye of the Party. His Therefore, he has been a thoughtcriminal for years, but he was able to hide it, by understanding what the Party expects from an ideal member, and miming it. The unpremeditated act of constantly thinking is his first step to revolution.

The next level of revolt is to start writing his diary. Though the act of writing seems to be pointless, even dangerous; it is satisfactory. Winston Smith starts to write his diary in an unusual way, he does not think about what he is writing, he just lets his thoughts embody on the paper. This method is called automatic writing; ”modern psychodynamic theories of personality propose that traits, attitudes, motives, impulses, and memories that are incompatible with the person's conscious awareness may be dissociated from awareness and rarely expressed overtly in the course of normal waking behaviour.” (Encyclopaedia Britannica) Using this method, the person is unaware of what will be written: “Suddenly he began writing in sheer panic, only imperfectly aware of what he was setting down. His small but childish handwriting straggled up and down the page, shedding first its capital letters and finally even its full stops.”(Nineteen Eighty-Four, p.11) “He did not know what had made him pour out this stream of rubbish.” (Nineteen Eighty-Four, p.11)

After beginning his diary, he soon starts to think about how the regime works. He is in a good position to be able to see into the governance, because Winston works in Minitrue, Ministry of Truth, where he rectifies some earlier articles. He remembers an incident when he found an unquestionable evidence of the assumption that the Party changes past events to prove his statements.

Winston comes to the conclusion that only the proles are free in his society, and they are the ones who could defeat the authority of the Party. He writes: “If there is hope it lies in the proles.” (Nineteen Eighty-Four, p.60)

The only problem with the proles is that they do not care about politics, and they do not know what kind of power is in their hands. They are the great majority (85%) of the society, but they live politically unconsciously. “Until they become conscious they will never rebel, and until after they have rebelled they cannot become conscious.” (Nineteen Eighty-Four, p.61)

Smith realizes what the Party does. He knows how they falsify the past and how they manipulate party members and the proles, but he does not know why they do this. “The immediate advantages of falsifying the past were obvious, but the ultimate motive was mysterious. He took up his pen again and wrote: I understand HOW: I do not understand WHY.” (Nineteen Eighty-Four, p.68)

He also realizes that the real freedom is the freedom of thoughts, and he thinks that it cannot be taken away from people: “Freedom is the freedom to say that two plus two make four. If that is granted, all else follows.” (Nineteen Eighty-Four, p.69)

Accordingly, at the end of Part I, Winston is a real rebel, he finds out many things about the Party, yet he does not do anything against it. He starts to revolt in his private life, when he starts an affair with Julia. The Party considers sex only the way to produce citizens in the country. The Party wants to abolish sexual contact, therefore they encourage young people to undertake artificial insemination. As Daphne Patai points out, the Party “prohibits sex except for the purpose of procreation, on the assumption that sexual tension could be redirected as passionate hatred of an enemy and passionate love of an abstract leader.” (Patai, 1984) Julia pretends to be an innocent, perfect party member, but she often has sex secretly with other Party members. This is her way of rebelling against the current system.

“ 'Have you done this before?'

'Of course. Hundreds of times -- well scores of times anyway.'

'With Party members.'

'Yes, always with Party members.' ” (Nineteen Eighty-Four, p.104)

Winston and Julia start to have a secret life together. Winston rents a room from a prole man and they meet there regularly. They make love, consume things from the black market and talk a lot. Winston talks to Julia about politics. Although Julia is not truly interested in it, she listens to him and agrees, because she loves him.

“'I'm not interested in the next generation, dear. I'm interested in us.'

'You're only a rebel from the waist downwards,' he told her.

She thought this brilliantly witty and flung her arms round him in delight. “ (Nineteen Eighty-Four, p.129)

Winston is waiting for a sign of the Brotherhood; the underground organization, headed by Emmanuel Goldstein, that is secretly trying to overthrow the Party. He wants to do something effectively against the Party. People do not know anything about Brotherhood, but there has always been a rumor of something like the Brotherhood. Winston really believes in the Brotherhood, and he has always wanted to be a part of it.

“It had happened at last. The expected message had come. All his life, it seemed to him, he had been waiting for this to happen.” (Nineteen Eighty-Four, p.131) O'Brien, the one who Winston has always believed to be a rebellious person, invites him to his home. What Winston expects is some kind of initiation to the Brotherhood. He wants to belong to an organization that really does something against the Party. He has always believed what the arrested insurgents confessed, and he wants to do similar things to those. O'Brien took Winston and Julia in the Brotherhood.

Smith receives the book that Goldstein wrote and he starts to read it. He is satisfied because he thinks that his questions will be answered, but at the end he becomes disappointed by the book, because it does not give any answers yet.

“ He had still, he reflected, not learned the ultimate secret. He understood how; he did not understand why. Chapter 1, like Chapter 3, had not actually told him anything that he did not know; it had merely systematized the knowledge that he possessed already.” (Nineteen Eighty-Four, p179)

After reading two chapters of the book, the worst thing happens to Winston and Julia. They have been betrayed and than arrested. It turns out that the prole man that let the room for them and even O'Brien are the agents of the thoughtpolice. Therefore Winston is not only disappointed by the book, but also by the man that he really respected.

Winston is taken to Miniluv where O'Brien takes him in hand. O'Brien teaches Winston in a Platonic method. He asks questions as far as Winston gives the right answer. O'Brien , at last, gives the answers to Winston's questions.

“ Now I will tell you the answer to my question. It is this. The Party seeks power entirely for its own sake. We are not interested in the good of others; we are interested solely in power. Not wealth or luxury or long life or happiness: only power, pure power. What pure power means you will understand presently. We are different from all the oligarchies of the past, in that we know what we are doing. All the others, even those who resembled ourselves, were cowards and hypocrites.” (Nineteen Eighty-Four, p.217)

At the end, when he understood all that he wanted, he was taken to Room 101, and he had been changed. At the top of his ideological development, Winston became intellectually murdered. He knew what he wanted to know, but he did not believe himself. The only thing he trusted was the Party, and Big Brother.

All in all, Winston goes through a hard and long process of ideological progress. According to Adibur Rahman, “Winston Smith wants to come “up for Air” in order to communicate with his genuine voice of self which is of course, not pessimistic. He no longer identifies himself with the existing callousness of the society.” (Adibur, 2002) First, he did not consciously think of rebelling, his subconscious thoughts and his dreams were his way of thinking. Then the next level was to disgorge his feelings and thoughts through his diary. After that he started to retrace his thoughts consciously, then he was not pleased with thinking, he wanted to act. At the beginning, he only rioted in his private life, after that he wanted to transfer it to public life, although he did not clearly understand his ideology. This was the point when he got arrested, and his questions were answered by O'Brien, who was his traitor, his mentor, his enemy and his friend. He had intellectually been murdered, when he had reached the zenith of his ideological advance.

Works consulted: Retrieved on 08. 01. 2010

Patai, Daphne. The Orwell Mystique A Study in Male Ideology. Amherst, 1984

Rahman ,Adibur. George Orwell: a humanistic approach.New Delhi, 2002


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