In 1984, how does love symbolize democracy?

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mstultz72's profile pic

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

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I assume you mean "democracy"?  Although, "democrazy" is a fitting, if not Orwellian, epithet.

There are no fewer than four types of love in the novel 1984: love of country (nationalism), love of ignorance, love of war, and love of pain.  All forms of love are false; they are really forms of hate.  None of these loves are democratic (concerned with equality of others).  In other words, there is no real phileo (brotherly love) in this society, even though all the party members call each other "brother" and "sister."  Even Julia and Winston's subversive relationship is based more on love of individual rebellion and love of pleasure than it is based on coming together as a democratic group.  In the end, Winston chooses O'Brien over Julia; he forsakes a chance at love or democracy in favor of love of an icon (Big Brother or Goldstein) and love of the state.

Winston is duped by O'Brien's use of Goldstein's book as a pseudo-democratic ruse to catch and torture Winston.  O'Brien gives Winston the democratic handbook because he knows Winston won't understand it.  He could have given him a handbook on love with similar confidence.  So, in the end, "love" and "democracy" are mere illusions; they are not even words uttered, because--no doubt--they have been phased out of the Newspeak dictionaries.

So, I don't see any love or democracy in the book at all.  Orwell uses them, along with hope, as red herrings.  They have been phased out by the Ministries of Love and Truth respectively.  They have been replaced by nationalism, torture, propaganda, and fear.  They are vague memories in Winston's distorted mind, like his childhood memory of his mother.  There's no concept of emotional attachment between mother and son, let alone between person to person.

If love doesn't exist, it can't stand for anything.  If democracy doesn't exist, nothing can stand for it.  Throughout the dystopia of 1984, "love" and "democracy" are un-words, not even thoughts; they have become "un-love" and "un-democracy" and then, later, "hate" and "totalitarianism."  Like the unperson Winston at the end, they never were.

mrs-campbell's profile pic

mrs-campbell | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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Not all forms of love symbolize democracy in this book; for example, love of country was a very patriotic sort of love that kept the proles in a constant state of willingness, sacrifice and obedience to a higher authority.  The propoganda put forth by the Party actually encouraged that sort of frenzied, blind love of country, because it kept the masses in check; it was instrumental in their power and control.  If you are talking about democracy in its purest form, which is a sentiment and movement of the people in order to ensure their happiness and freedom, this patriotism does not qualify for that; it was a movement of the people manipulated by higher powers, not for the people's happiness, but for their own gain.

However, personal love--by choice--between two people, in this society, was a democratic notion because it was people choosing how to rule their own hearts in order to achieve happiness.  In fact, when Winston and Julia are first together, the don't describe it as an act of intimacy or love; instead,

"their embrace had been a battle, the climax a victory.  It was a blow struck against the Party.  It was a political act."

To describe love in political terms definitely supports the notion that love, in this book at least, was an act of democracy.  They lived in a controlled regime, where they had no personal freedoms or choices throughout their entire lives.  To love someone else was a choice that Winston and Julia made, and that sort of freedom to choose and act accordingly, was the closest thing to a democracy that they had.  They were, in essence, using their love to exert freedom and choice in their lives.    It was total rebellion, as democracy in any form in their world was.  It was them saying, "hey, I have the right to choose to love someone. "

If you contrast the love between Julia and Winston to that of between Winston and his wife, there is no comparison.  He did not love his wife; he married her because it was fitting, it was approved by the state, and it was what he was supposed to do.  There is no love there because he did not choose that; he was manipulated and coerced into it because of his circumstances.

Also, love, in the end, is the only thing that Winston has within himself that is truly his, that hasn't been taken over and ruined by the Party.  It is his last scrap of individuality and freedom from their power, much like democracy can be.  I hope that those thoughts helped; good luck!

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