In 1984, how does the contrast between the streets of Oceania and the clearing in the woods parallel to the lives Winston and Julia live in each of the places?

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may-stone eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The very first page of the novel describes a poster bearing the slogan, “BIG BROTHER IS WATHCING YOU,” which also serves as a sort of tag line for the whole totalitarian future that Orwell portrays.  In this future, the government, which refers to itself as “Big Brother,” controls nearly every aspect of its citizen’s lives.  It can do this, as the poster warns, by constantly watching everyone, even to the extent of opening bugging every dwelling and possibly most of the public spaces in the city too.  Winston and Julia are even worried about these devices having been planted in the woods where they first go to secretly meet each other:  “There were no telescreens, of course, but there was always the danger of concealed microphones by which your voice might be picked up and recognized.” 

Despite this possibility, Winston and Julia feel safe from the invasive control of Big Brother out in the woods.  As a natural space, the woods present a contrast to the harshly constructed and controlled space of the city.

The sweetness of the air and the greenness of the leaves daunted him [Winston].  Already, on the walk from the station, the May sunshine had made him feel dirty and etiolated, a creature of indoors, with the sooty dust of London in the pores of his skin.

As indicated in this passage, the fresh and unrestrained beauty of the woods demonstrates to Winston and Julia the narrowness and paucity of their lives in the city, under the control of the government.  In the woods, the lovers throw off the extreme restraint that they have to practice in the city and they allow themselves to act as naturally as their surroundings; there Winston and Julia can reveal who they really are to each other, and drop the tightly constructed masks they must wear in the city.