How are women portrayed by George Orwell in 1984?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Women are sometimes portrayed as victims in this novel, such as Mrs. Parsons, Winston's mother, and Winston's little sister. Mrs. Parsons is trapped by the miserable conditions the totalitarian state puts her in and fearful of her children, who spy on her. Winston's mother is forced to deal with an impossible economic situation until she finally disappears.

In more general terms, we see women as conditioned to being sexless if Party members and fulfilling traditional gender roles in the prole society, such as the prostitute or the old washerwoman who hangs laundry (she may be a spy, but we never know for sure) in the courtyard below the window of the room above Mr. Carrington's shop.

The one woman we get to know, Julia , shows a great deal of agency in managing her life, and to some extent, breaks out of typical gender roles. She, for example, initiates the relationship with Winston. In other ways, however, she is a stereotypical woman, following Winston's lead and more associated with...

(The entire section contains 3 answers and 684 words.)

Unlock This Answer Now

Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this answer and thousands more. Enjoy eNotes ad-free and cancel anytime.

Start your 48-Hour Free Trial
Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles
Approved by eNotes Editorial Team