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I'm writing an essay on the book 1984 by George Orwell, and I'm writing from the...

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ashley35 | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted February 25, 2010 at 10:57 AM via web

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I'm writing an essay on the book 1984 by George Orwell, and I'm writing from the critical lens marxism, the differences in social classes.

I need help with my three body paragraphs, I was thinking to discuss each class in a different paragraph, like first the Inner Party, Outer Party, Proles. However, I need help cause I need proof and I don't really understand what I'm trying to prove by writing on the diferent social classes in 1984. All I know is that we're suppose to write an essay through a critical lens.

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mstultz72 | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted February 25, 2010 at 11:16 AM (Answer #1)

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We have limited access to any "groups" in 1984.  We only have Winston's limited perspective.  He doesn't even know much about his own class.  So, much of your paper will be inferential.  We only know what Winston knows: we can't trust O'Brien (inner party) or Julia (outer party)--both of which are probably double-agents.

Winston is fascinated with the Proles; he sees them as the key to revolution.  Look at Winston's journal entry for his "stream-of-conscious" Marxist criticism on the party vs. the proles:

April 4th, 1984. Last night to the flicks. All war films. One very good one of a ship full of refugees being bombed somewhere in the Mediterranean. Audience much amused by shots of a great huge fat man trying to swim away with a helicopter after him, first you saw him wallowing along in the water like a porpoise, then you saw him through the helicopters gunsights, then he was full of holes and the sea round him turned pink and he sank as suddenly as though the holes had let in the water, audience shouting with laughter when he sank. then you saw a lifeboat full of children with a helicopter hovering over it. there was a middle-aged woman might have been a jewess sitting up in the bow with a little boy about three years old in her arms. little boy screaming with fright and hiding his head between her breasts as if he was trying to burrow right into her and the woman putting her arms round him and comforting him although she was blue with fright herself, all the time covering him up as much as possible as if she thought her arms could keep the bullets off him. then the helicopter planted a 20 kilo bomb in among them terrific flash and the boat went all to matchwood. then there was a wonderful shot of a child's arm going up up up right up into the air a helicopter with a camera in its nose must have followed it up and there was a lot of applause from the party seats but a woman down in the prole part of the house suddenly started kicking up a fuss and shouting they didnt oughter of showed it not in front of kids they didnt it aint right not in front of kids it aint until the police turned her turned her out i dont suppose anything happened to her nobody cares what the proles say typical prole reaction they never --

According to Enotes "Multiple Perspectives" on 1984, there are 4 areas of focus in Marxist criticism:

economic power

• materialism versus spirituality

• class conflict

• art, literature, and ideologies

1. Economic Power

• A society is shaped by its forces of production. Those who own the means of production dictate what type of society it is.

• Two main classes of society according to the Marxist framework are the bourgeoisie (the people who control the means of production and wealth) and the proletariat (the people who operate the means of production and are controlled by the bourgeoisie).

2. Materialism versus Spirituality

• Society is not based on ideals or abstractions, but on things.

• The material world shows us reality. The material world is the only non-subjective element in a society. Money and material possessions are the same by every measure within a society, whereas spirituality is completely subjective.

3. Class Conflict

• A Capitalist society will inevitability experience conflict between its social classes.

• The owners and the workers will have different ideas about the division of the wealth generated, and the owners will ultimately make the decision.

4. Art, Literature, and Ideologies

• Art and literature are vehicles for the bourgeoisie to instill their value system on the proletariat. The arts can make the current system look attractive and logical, thus lulling the workers into complacency.

• Works of art and literature are enjoyable to experience, so the audience is unaware of being swayed, which is dangerous.

AND here are the main areas of focus:

• Analysis of the power structures, real and apparent, throughout the story

• Examination of the interactions among the three social classes in Oceania

• Analysis of the power that the Inner Party holds over virtually everyone in the story

• Consideration of the ways in which the Party doctrines do, and do not, succeed in Oceania

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