Totalitarianism In George Orwell's 'Nineteen Eighty-Four'

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George Orwell’s dystopian Nineteen Eighty-Four: A Novel envisions a future world divided into three superstates, all typified by totalitarianism. Oceania, where the despotic Party rules supreme, is the panopticon superstate in which the novel takes place. The Party demands absolute conformity in both action and thought from all inhabitants, on threat of vaporization. Despite this dire consequence, the protagonist, Winston, remains undeterred in his ill-fated attempt to undermine the Party. A significant aspect of Winston’s rebellion is internal, as he untangles decades of psychological manipulation that warps his understanding of humanity. Winston’s evolving attitude towards the singing woman he regularly overhears tracks his personal journey…show more content…
Winston’s freedom of thought leads him to remark, “the birds sang, the proles sang, the Party did not sing” (227). Saying “the birds sang, the proles sang” draws a direct association between the singing woman and birds, framing them as natural and, consequently, the Party as unnatural. Singing has come to represent myriad notions for Winston, particularly the indomitable human spirit. Yet again, Winston evaluates the singing woman’s physical appearance, concluding this time, “The woman down there had no mind, she had only strong arms, a warm heart and a fertile belly” (225). His claim that the singing woman “had no mind”, insinuates that Winston’s estimation of the proles remains mired in his Party ingrained elitism. However, as Winston expands on this notion it becomes clear he has evolved. Winston philosophizes, “Out of those mighty loins a race of conscious beings must one day come. You were the dead; theirs was the future. But you could share in that future if you kept alive the mind as they kept alive the body... ” (227). Pinning his hopes for the future on the production of “a race of conscious beings” makes it abundantly clear that Winston still considers the singing woman herself an unconscious being. Given the lyrical content of her song, the reader knows Winston’s assumption misguided. Despite this, it is significant that Winston is…show more content…
As a foil to Winston, she reveals his shortcomings and his progress in the process of disentangling his own ideas from internalized propaganda. The singing woman both foreshadows an irreversible doom and represents hope for the future. She regurgitates the cultural productions of the Party yet by recitation renders them subversive. She represents the indomitable human spirit and yet is, in the end, silenced. Ultimately, this ostensibly simple woman proves to be one of the most complex figures in the
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