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Proletariat vs protagonist: Winston Smith's class conflict in 1984

The title year of George Orwell’s most famous novel is nineteen years past, but the dystopian vision it draws has retained its ability to grip readers with a haunting sense of foreboding about the future. At the heart of several of the issues touched on in 1984 is a subject of modern debate: the conflict of the individual versus the state. In the totalitarian planet that Orwell paints, the position of the state as all-potent only heightens the significance of the person as counter-balance. In 1984, the characters that Orwell portrays are all the much more essential simply because the only feasible rebellion is personal rebellion, so there are no heroic plots, only heroic folks. Orwell’s anti-hero protagonist Winston Smith notes that “[r]ebellion meant a appear in the eyes, an inflection of the voice at the most, an occasional whispered word” (60). The individual has turn out to be political, and so increased tenfold the significance of character in the novel .

Whilst character is of paramount significance, the novel is also an expression of Orwell’s own political concepts. The novel includes a extended digression in the type of an illicit book that Winston reads, ostensibly written by Emmanuel Goldstein, a mythic “resistance” leader. Orwell appears to use the episode to expound further on the particulars of the ultra-fascist government depicted and sketch out how it came to be (though the book turns out to have been written by the quite men whom it criticizes, maybe far more for the sake of plausibility of plot than something else). Orwell writes that “Throughout recorded time, and almost certainly given that the end of the Neolithic Age, there have three types of men and women in the planet, the High, the Middle, and the Low. […] [N]o advance in wealth, no softening of manners, no reform or revolution has ever brought human equality a millimeter nearer” (166-67). This seems to be a much more articulate expression of Orwell’s Socialist view of class conflict and his worry of Fascism in the midst of an whole novel that is a vaguer warning of the exact same. Therefore, we can plausibly interpret the character of Winston Smith, our protagonist, within this framework of class conflict and motivations that Orwell has laid out. While certainly an person, Winston is also an instance of the middle class that Orwell delineates in Goldstein’s book.

The society Orwell designed in 1984 is neatly three-tiered, with a high, a middle, and a low class. The decrease class is composed of the Proles, the illiterate and abused masses who lead a somewhat medieval existence. The upper two classes include members of the so-called Celebration which, in turn, is divided into member of the Outer and Inner Party, with the latter becoming far a lot more potent. Winston is a member of the Outer Party, and so a clear member of the middle class.

Winston’s core motivation in the novel is not totally clear from his character alone, but becomes much more comprehensible if we realize him to be acting inside the confines of Orwell’s theory of class conflict. For most of the book, Winston is driven to undermine the Celebration by a hatred of Massive brother and the Party itself, however other than a nostalgia for the previous, the reader does not know precisely why he does this. In Goldstein’s book, Orwell writes that “[t]he aims of these 3 groups [classes] are totally irreconcilable. The aim of the High is to stay exactly where they are. The aim of the Middle is to change places with the Higher. The aim of the Low, when they have an aim […] is to abolish all distinctions and create a society in which all males shall be equal” (166). As a result, Winston’s want to act against the Celebration comes from his desire to supercede its energy over him and to obtain such energy for himself. Such a need is, at most, subconscious and expressed subtly. In class disputes, a typically coveted type of power is economic energy. Orwell shows that Winston possesses extremely tiny financial energy over his personal life, as when he “wrenched his body out of bed – naked, for a member of the Outer Party received only three thousand clothing coupons annually, and a suit of pajamas was six hundred” (29). Orwell juxtaposes the mention of Winston’s status as a member of the Outer Party with the mention of a little but uncomfortable physical detail and distinct numbers to reflect the sort of discomfort that pervades Winston’s existence as a member of the middle class. Much less tangibly, Orwell also sees the pursuit of energy for its personal sake as a reputable motivation in class conflicts. O’Brien, Winston’s teacher/torturer, tells him, “The Party seeks power for its own sake” (217). Winston as well seeks to seize energy from those greater than him. On the 1st occasion when he wrote in his diary, “[h]e found that even though he sat helplessly musing he had also been writing, […] printing in big neat capitals – DOWN WITH Big BROTHER DOWN WITH Large BROTHER” (19). Orwell shows that the expression of this thought was nearly subconscious, flowing from Winston’s hand with out realization, but with strength. Winston is brief of even the most basic personal freedoms and economic powers. He longs not only to obtain these powers but to tear down these above him, seeing this as the only path to obtain the tangible and intangible issues that he lacks. In this, he is an outstanding example of the middle class motivations that Orwell outlines.

Yet another strong motivator for Winston is his nostalgia for the past nevertheless, his nostalgia informs his desire for far more power. He is obsessed with the past not only simply because it is difficult to prove or discern but also simply because he can't be positive regardless of whether his wish is valid. He was a tiny youngster when Celebration rule started, and as a result can not don't forget something adequate to disprove the Party’s claims. Winston reads in a Party history that before the Celebration came to energy, “[t]he capitalists owned almost everything in the planet, and absolutely everyone else was their slave” (63). This thought is troubling to Winston due to the fact if it is accurate, then it indicates that Celebration leaders have merely replaced “the capitalists” in their function, and in the past that Winston vaguely yearns for, he would have no far more energy than he has in the present day. He even questions an old prole man at some threat to himself about the previous in common and the ruling class in specific, but is unable to get a clear answer. This is impossibly frustrating to him because he can't be positive if, in yet another time, he would be in the same position of middle-class servility as ahead of.

Winston’s approaches also are standard of the middle-class psychology that Orwell has laid out. By means of Goldstein, Orwell writes that “throughout history a struggle which is the exact same in its major outlines recurs over and more than once again. For long periods the Higher appear to be securely in energy, but […] [t]hey are then overthrown by the Middle, who enlist the Low on their side” (166). Winston, even just before reading the book, has already created a comparable realization. He concludes, “If there was hope, it should lie in the proles, because only there, in those swarming, disregarded masses, eighty-five per cent of the population of Oceania, could the force to destroy the Party ever be generated” (60). Orwell makes use of condescending language to characterize the proles, describing them as “swarming” and conjuring an image of insects. Such language reinforces the class distinctions present: Winston sees the proles only as tools, not as individuals. His resistance is standard of the class that he inhabits.

Winston’s ideology also evinces his status as a middle-class rebel. Orwell writes that the middle class recruits the decrease class “by pretending to them that they are fighting for liberty and justice” and adds that “[t]he Middle, so long as it was struggling for power, had constantly made use of such terms as freedom, justice, and fraternity” (166-67). Though this is much how the Inner Party behaves with members of the Outer Celebration, “no try was created to indoctrinate [the proles] with the ideology of the Party” (62). This territory is as a result left open for Winston to pioneer. Even though he can not of course truly attempt to indoctrinate the proles, his resistance is distinctly ideological, specially in contrast to that of his lover, Julia. He believes in freedom, even though he can not have it, and undoubtedly would use it as element of his rhetoric. When Winston is not obsessed by the mutability of the past, he thinks often about the idea of freedom, writing in his diary, “Freedom is the freedom to say that two plus two make four. If that is granted, all else follows” (69). The notion of equality also attracts him as important: “[w]here there is equality there can be sanity,” he thinks (181). He is similarly intrigued by the thought of the Brotherhood, a mythic resistance movement of which Goldstein is ostensibly the leader. In Winston’s approaches and suggestions, he is no different than these in search of energy in the middle class lengthy just before his time what sets him apart is that his plans and thoughts can never ever come to fruition.

Winston’s individual character is of fantastic value in the book, but that he can be interpreted via Orwell’s rather vaguely defined class psychology areas Winston’s character inside a greater historical tradition of middle-class rebels. Orwell shows that class divisions and inequality will continue properly into the future, but concludes the book with the defeat of Winston’s spirit and ability to fight. The High have trounced the Middle, and 1 of the most terrifying elements of 1984 is the way Orwell shows that the High have reached a point exactly where they should be in a position to preserve their status indefinitely, thus rendering meaningless Winston’s struggle. He utilizes Goldstein’s book to explicate these circumstances and Winston’s character to dramatize them and drive them house. Hence the novel is a warning not only against these countries which are governed by corrupt ideologies, but against the ruling class of all societies. Orwell has envisioned a planet in which it is basically of no use to fight against the dictates of one’s society, because even if the urge persists, both the signifies and the end are impossible to reach.
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