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Does the ending of 1984 by George Orwell hold any meaning? (Include specific and...

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danielb77 | Valedictorian

Posted July 20, 2013 at 5:49 PM via web

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Does the ending of 1984 by George Orwell hold any meaning?

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 2) Distinguished Educator

Posted July 20, 2013 at 10:49 PM (Answer #1)

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After all the psychological and physical torture since his arrest, Winston's spirit is not able to withstand the power exerted by a totalitarian government that creates "doublespeak" and untruths. This use of torture and brainwashing destroys Winston's desire for love, justice, and truth; in him there occurs a change that goes to the core of his nature. Through the successful manipulation of Winston's mind, Winston, in effect, begins to believe what is contrary to the truth. Now, he believes that "2+2=5" is true.  And, his "Slavery is Freedom" because he no longer possesses any awareness of the discrepancy between truth and fiction.

"They can't get inside you," she had said.  But they could get inside you. "What happens to you here is forever" O'Brien had said.  That was a true word.  There were things, your own acts, from which you could not recover. Something was killed in your breast; burnt out, cauterized out.

One day Winston encounters Julia; they do not kiss or hug, but both admit "baldly" that they have betrayed each other. They admit that they say whatever will save themselves and care for no one else. Winston and Julie have become dehumanized, "There did not seem to be anything more to say." As they walk along, Winston is lured by drink; he enters the Chestnut Tree Cafe and drowns his thoughts,

And then--perhaps it was not happening, perhaps it was only a memory taking on the semblance of sound--

Winston is troubled by false memories; the distinction between truth and reality blurs with his indoctrination and torture. As he hears the news announced that victory has come to Oceania, Winston hears the voice of the telescreen, and as Winston drinks more gin, he loses his human essence. He looks up at the screen "in a blissful dream,"

...He was back in the Ministry of Love with everything forgiven, his soul white as snow.  He was in the public dock....The long-hoped-for bullet was entering his brain....He gazed up...He had won the victory over himself. He loved Big Brother.

Winston has embraced his servitude. Big Brother has conquered him and taken his individuality. In his foreword to Brave New World, Aldous Huxley wrote that the real revolution is in the minds of human beings who "embrace their servitude." Winston Smith has embraced his servitude so much that he awaits his death happily.

George Orwell's warning of the death of individual man from totalitarianism is an echo of Huxley's later work. The dehumanization of people is the revolution that will destroy the freedom and essence of the individual. And, as Macbeth observes in his phantasmorgic world, "nothing [becomes] what is not."  Truth is abolished, every trace of critical thought and individuality eliminated; man is alienated, transformed into mere parts of the process of production and consumption.

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