If There Is Hope It Lies In The Proles

Explain why "If there is hope..it lies in the proles" of Orwell's 1984.

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Winston writes that the proles are where hope lies.  It becomes evident that the Party will not destroy from within and thus there needs to be an external force that has to be an agent of change.  The Proles are envisioned as that force:

If there was hope, it MUST lie in the proles, because only there in those swarming disregarded masses, 85 per cent of the population of Oceania, could the force to destroy the Party ever be generated. The Party could not be overthrown from within. Its enemies, if it had any enemies, had no way of coming together or even of identifying one another.

For Winston, the sheer numbers of the Proles enable them to have a shot of overcoming the power of Big Brother and the Party.  Winston sees the Proles as containing the physical capacity in terms of numbers and size to overthrow the Party.  For Winston, if the Proles could be made aware to understand their own strength, change would be evident:

But the proles, if only they could somehow become conscious of their own strength. would have no need to conspire. They needed only to rise up and shake themselves like a horse shaking off flies. If they chose they could blow the Party to pieces tomorrow morning. 

It is in the Proles' capacity as an agent of change where Winston sees them as being able to represent hope.

gmuss25 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

As mentioned in the previous post, Winston believes that the only hope to destroy the Party was to awaken and unite the overwhelming mass of proles to revolt against Big Brother. Unlike the Inner and Outer Party members, the proles are given freedom. Winston even recalls a Party slogan, "Proles and animals are free" (Orwell 92). The proles are not under the watchful eye of telescreens, they are permitted to have sexual relations with one another, and are considered beneath suspicion. Aside from a few intelligent proles which are captured and vaporized by the Thought Police, there is no reason for the Party to even attempt to indoctrinate them. They are essentially considered subhuman, primitive beings who are unconscious of their position in society. Winston mentions that the only thing that matters to the proles is the Lottery. Given the fact that they account for 85% of the population, their sheer mass is enough to topple the authoritative regime. Winston also contemplates on how the proles are only loyal to each other and have no affiliation with the Party. He comments, "The proles had stayed human" (Orwell 208). Winston views the proles as an immortal force that will eventually awaken and revolt against the Party. 

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