Dissent Assent And The Body In 1984

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Thesis: Throughout the novel, Winston resists the Party’s control, but due to his phobia of rats, which reflects his fear of immediate suffering at the hands of the Party, he makes an impulsive decision that results in his conversion as a party loyalist and figurative “death of his conscience,” proving his efforts of resistance to be futile.
Jacobs, Naomi. "Dissent, Assent, and the Body in Nineteen Eighty-Four." Utopian Studies, vol. 18. Literature Resource Center, www.jstor.org/stable/20719844. Accessed 18 May 2023. In this journal article, Naomi Jacobs, a professor of English at the University of Maine, discusses the role of the physical body in 1984. Unlike other utopian fiction novels that portray the human body as a source of power and …show more content…

However, Jacobs mentions that Winston’s physical body, despite its decrepitude, dominates his mind by performing “unlawful” actions, such as writing in his diary and having sexual relations with Julia. Unfortunately, O’Brien’s torture of Winston causes Winston to lose control of his body. When Winston views his emaciated skeleton in the mirror, he contrasts his withered body with the figurative, immortal body of the Party. Although Winston protects his body from a potential rat mauling, he ends up alienated from his body, as he can no longer feel love for Julia. This source supports my thesis as it shows how Winston’s body ultimately causes him to make his decision. When Winston views his deteriorating body in the mirror, he realizes his helplessness in the power of the Party. This feeling of defeat causes him to believe he is inferior to the Party, which in turn causes him to question his views …show more content…

Winston’s fear of rats, Smith argues, is a result of past experiences in his childhood. When Winston’s mother could no longer supply food for him, Winston left his mother and sister to the rats. Winston feels guilty for this, associating himself with a greedy rat who is responsible for the death of his sister. Not only do rats symbolize the death of Winston’s mother and sister, but they also represent Winston’s entitlement. This source supports my thesis as it provides an explanation as to why Winston is so terrified of immediate suffering by rat mauling. Rats represent a connection with Winston’s past life. To Winston, rats trigger past trauma and remind Winston of his flaw: selfishness. As a result of Winston’s selfishness, he subconsciously believes he does not deserve to be punished for his greed. Therefore, Winston views rats as not only a painful reminder of his past but also an irrational punishment for his crimes. Thus, Winston spazzes out when he is threatened by rats and makes an impulsive decision to sacrifice

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