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Does 1984 offer a misogynistic and stereotypical view of women? 

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lolaleon | Student, Undergraduate | (Level 1) Valedictorian

Posted January 1, 2013 at 11:22 PM via web

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Does 1984 offer a misogynistic and stereotypical view of women? 

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accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted January 2, 2013 at 6:24 AM (Answer #1)

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It is easy to see how this novel could be seen as offering a rather misogynistic view of women. This is mostly because of the point of view, which is third person limited, meaning we see everything from Winston Smith's perspective rather than the thoughts and feelings of other characters. This of course means that the narrator, who is external to the action of the novel, chooses to limit their perspective by zooming in on one character alone and recording how they perceive and think about matters. Note what Winston thinks about prostitution:

The poorer quarters swarmed with women who were ready to sell themselves. Some could even be purchased for a bottle of gin, which the proles were not supposed to drink. Tacitly the Party was even inclined to encourage prostitution, as an outlet for instincts which could not altogether be suppressed.

Women, as this quote suggests, are viewed as nothing more than an easy source of sexual release for men. The apparent collusion with the Party and the Proles in this sense and the reference to women being easily "purchased" reinforces this view. However, at the same time, it is possible to argue that the novel actually presents a much more complex view of women. Note the memories that Winston has of his mother and sister, and also the character of Julia. She is a woman who could be argued is a prototype of feminism, as she refuses to let the Party shape her identity and works secretly to live her own life and love in the way she wants to. There is nothing stereotypical about Julia when Winston gets to know her.

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