Is 1984 a tragic love story in dystopian setting, or a story of rebellion? .

Expert Answers
e-martin eNotes educator| Certified Educator

1984 seems to be trying to be both a love story and a tale of rebellion. The posts above suggest the complexities that are offered in interpreting this novel in either way, and I agree with much of what has been posted.

The fact that the rebellion fails as well as the loyalty between the lovers, does not, to me, mean that the story's themes are compromised or that the book fails to be a "love story" or a "story of rebellion".

There are narrative flaws here that serve to erase or at least diminish the effectiveness of the love story involved in 1984, regardless of the potential centrality of this love to the text, and which also skew the narrative toward its ultimate political statement, compromising the story and characters in order to do so.

This is not a story, in the end, about people as individuals. It is a book about how politics influence society, looking at an extreme situation wherein rebellion is successful only insofar as it is acted upon with passion for a moment. When the moment is over, the system wins.

literaturenerd eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I must say that I love the discussion on meaning in literature. I struggle everyday trying to get my students to understand that different view points on a single text is okay. For too long they have been taught about one interpretation being the "say all" given teachers have told them how to interpret literature on their (the teacher's) terms. Seeing contradicting views always gives me hope that I am teaching the right way.

Keep up the 'arguments'- it is how literature evolves!

pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I think that it's a story of rebellion.  I do not think that either Winston or Julia is really in love with the other person.  That is especially true of Julia.  Their affair comes about not so much because they are attracted to one another as because they hate the society in which they live.  They are using each other as a way to rebel against the Party.  Because of that, I don't see it as a love story.

accessteacher eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I personally didn't find the "love" story that convincing. The relationship of Julia and Winston isn't so much about love as we know it and think of it as an act of rebellion against a totalitarian state. Therefore I would argue that this is a story above all else that features the limits of rebellion and how insignificant even our most important actions can be in the face of a totalitarian state.

Karen P.L. Hardison eNotes educator| Certified Educator

It seems to me to be both. If it is not a love story between Winston and Julia in a dystopian setting, then there can be real importance to their betrayal of each other and no real importance to Winstons' parting feelings of love for Big Brother. It is certainly a rebellion, but in this case a failed rebellion, not reminiscent of the successful rebellion in The Chrysalids.

missy575 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I think it is neither. The reason being that Winston and Julia's love does not really survive, nor is rebellion effective. I think the failures of the characters are a sharp warning about making sure to hold governments accountable for protecting things like freedom and rights. In addition, it means governments need to remember who they exist for: the people.

litteacher8 eNotes educator| Certified Educator
There is definitely a dystopian setting. Although there is love, I think it is more a journey of self-discovery in all things. Discovery in love, and discovery in understanding how the society functions. That's where the rebellion comes in, once he realizes he doesn't accept the status quo of the corrupt, totalitarian society.
cstafford07 | Student

1984 is a story of rebellion that leads Winston to the discovery of humanity and therefore love. At the end of Chapter two in book one Winston's "awakening" begins. He realizes and admitts that he is going to die. His impending death gives him a sense of freedom. This fatalistic perspective allows Winston to discover what humanity is really about. Julia is the one who teaches Winston what it is to be human. At first his affair with Julia is all about rebellion, however as the plot develops the nature of their relationship changes. For Winston, it goes from being "a political act"(Book 2, Ch.3) where the identiy of Julia could be freely exchanged for any other person without changing anything, to actual feelings/ love. Winston develops emotions such as jelousy (book 2, Ch.4) which tells us that it is not just about the act in itself, rather it is about the specific individual. So yes, 1984 IS a love story. But, love in itself is the ultimate rebellion. The party could care less about the act of sex. What they care about are the emotions/ loyalties that go along with it. The party has effectivly abolished all human relationships and only allows the relationship between individuals and the Party to exist. Winston does not truly rebel against the party until he forms a real human relationship complete with genuine feelings for Julia.

socialrebel | Student
It was a story of rebellion. Winston and Julia's relationship was based souly on lust and sex.