sexism in 1984I recently read an article that points out that Orwell shows the maternal as somewhat effectual in Animal Farm, where Clover is both nuturing to other animals even while she works...

sexism in 1984

I recently read an article that points out that Orwell shows the maternal as somewhat effectual in Animal Farm, where Clover is both nuturing to other animals even while she works alongside Boxer in the fields, but that he does not manage this in 1984. The critic says that in 1984, "feminine" characteristics,"though admirable, [are] shown to be utterly helpless and of no avail" in making a stronger society. Although envisioning a social order free of tyranny is important to Orwell, says this critic, ultimately he only repeats the existing versions of the patriarchy because he does not take the role of women into account nor sees the correspondence between male authority and the larger tyranny in politics.  What do you think?

Asked on by sagetrieb

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alexb2's profile pic

alexb2 | eNotes Employee

Posted on

I agree with nedsneebly, I think it was an age thing rather then a gender thing with regard to Julia. Julia's attitude towards Big Brother is fundamentally different then Winston's, but it seems to be a generational gap rather then a gender gap. 

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sagetrieb | College Teacher | (Level 3) Educator

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There is some evidence that Orwell had quite a violent streak that may be a manifestation of his "male authority" that you see in 1984.  For example, Ray Happenstall, a "friend" of Orwell, reports that the author, attacked him with a "shooting stick" one evening.  There are also reports from students that when he was "teaching at Hayes, he kept a large stick at his desk and hit one pupil so hard that he had bruises for a week.  On one occasion, he split open a live adder with a pen knife. On another occasion, he violently thrased a boy whom he caught blowing up a frog with a bicycle pump." 

For more on Orwell, patriarchy, and sexism, check out Orwell  by Michael Sheldon.  An excerpt from the review of his work appears above and can be found at

http://www.richardwebster.net/orwellandtheshootingstick.html

If Orwell could act this way towards males, one wonders what must have happened to some of the women in his life.  There is little doubt in my mind that Orwell approved completely of a patriarchy, and little question that he saw himself, and his male characters, at the top. 

Ah, so you suggest that in killing that elephant in his essay of that name the narrator had more at stake than he explicitly states. The narrator admits to ambivalence, attaching that to the problems in colonial rule, but it seems he might have had a bit of that urge to rule in himself as well. That sense of the danger but inevitability in the patriarchy in 1984 is what led me to read and love The Handmaid's Tale, which is another version of a dystopia from an entirely different point of view. But, back to Orwell's propenpensity toward violence, I do hesitate to conflate man and text, but sometimes doing so can provide some insight--not to mention juicy gossip about an author!

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Jamie Wheeler | College Teacher | eNotes Employee

Posted on

There is some evidence that Orwell had quite a violent streak that may be a manifestation of his "male authority" that you see in 1984.  For example, Ray Happenstall, a "friend" of Orwell, reports that the author, attacked him with a "shooting stick" one evening.  There are also reports from students that when he was "teaching at Hayes, he kept a large stick at his desk and hit one pupil so hard that he had bruises for a week.  On one occasion, he split open a live adder with a pen knife. On another occasion, he violently thrased a boy whom he caught blowing up a frog with a bicycle pump." 

For more on Orwell, patriarchy, and sexism, check out Orwell  by Michael Sheldon.  An excerpt from the review of his work appears above and can be found at

http://www.richardwebster.net/orwellandtheshootingstick.html

If Orwell could act this way towards males, one wonders what must have happened to some of the women in his life.  There is little doubt in my mind that Orwell approved completely of a patriarchy, and little question that he saw himself, and his male characters, at the top. 

nedsneebly's profile pic

nedsneebly | Student, Undergraduate | (Level 2) eNoter

Posted on

In 1984, I don't think the fact that Julia was weak was because she was a woman. I think that Orwell was trying to show the fact she was weak was due to her age. I think that is why he chose to have Winston older and Julia younger. That she rebelled against BigBrother just to rebel, but Winston did it because he really wanted to change things and he would of died for what he believed in ( until the end with the rats), she summited easier to the BigBrother because of her age, not necessarily because she was a woman. 

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