What would be a connection between 1984 and debate.

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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In my mind, one of the strengths of Orwell's work is that it shows how painful and difficult it is to live in a society where there is an absence of discourse and debate.   Big Brother is depicted as a form of government where there is no room for dissent and no type of critical discussion is fostered.  It is here where Orwell might be suggesting the need for a society to engage in open and free debate.  Winston is a character who would thrive in a social and political setting where debating notions of the good would be encouraged and enhanced.  The very fact that these elements are denied to him represent how a society that does not feature healthy and open discourse can take a toll on its citizens.  Both Winston and Julia seek to question why reality is constructed in the manner it is.  The lack of avenues for their curiosity or penchant for debate compels them to go underground and be labeled as subversive.  For Orwell, I think that it becomes clear that any society that is afraid of debate and open dialogue between its people and its government is one in which growth and intellectual maturation are impossible.  The absence of debating forums in Oceania brings to light how scared governments and ruling bodies are of these elements.  As the historian Howard Zinn writes, "Dissent is the highest form of patriotism."  The lack of debating venues in1984brings credence to this statement.


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