In 1984, was Winston really free at the end of the book?

Expert Answers
Douglas Horley eNotes educator| Certified Educator

By the end of the novel Winston does have a sort of freedom. He has been released from the Ministry of Love and deemed to be cured of his 'insanity' of being a humanist. The twisted logic of the party has been truly incorporated into his very existence; for example, in idle moments he dreamily traces two plus two equals five with his finger. As that would suggest, as a result of his brainwashing at the hands of O'Brien Winston has become a hollow shell of a man. His days consist of occasional work in his old job at the ministry for which nobody cares if he comes or goes, and he is a member of a pointless sub-committee which contains 'rehabilitated' members like himself. He has also become a chronic alcoholic. He spends much of day drinking the foul gin the state produces, and it appears that for him the supply is limitless. Clearly, the state no longer sees him as a threat and he is largely left to his own miserable devices, "No one cared what he did any longer, no whistle woke him, no telescreen admonished him" (p.307). 

Chillingly, at the end Winston even professes his love for Big Brother, a figure for whom when he had possessed a rational mind he had held so much hatred, "But it was all right, everything was all right, the struggle was finished. He had won the victory over himself. He loved Big Brother" (p. 311).  Whilst Winston appears to be 'free' at the end of the novel, he has in fact turned himself over mind, body and soul to the all-pervasive power of the state.