What circumstances cause Winston's varicose ulcer to bother him in 1984 by George Orwell?

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Winston 's ulcer frequently affects him during his mundane daily life in abiding by the seemingly pointless party rules, most particularly due to his sexual chastity. When Winston represses anything, whether it be sexual desire, creativity, individual thinking, or general individuality, the ulcer becomes engorged and enlarged. While partially acting...

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Winston's ulcer frequently affects him during his mundane daily life in abiding by the seemingly pointless party rules, most particularly due to his sexual chastity. When Winston represses anything, whether it be sexual desire, creativity, individual thinking, or general individuality, the ulcer becomes engorged and enlarged. While partially acting as a phallic metaphor for painful sexual repression, Winston's ulcer also serves as a result of repressing his own identity.

Of course, when Winston is around Julia, with whom Winston is allowed to be sexually and individually frank, the ulcer completely subsides and ceases to bother him. Later, once the two lovers become inevitably separated, the ulcer returns with a vengeance.

The ulcer acts as a sort of metaphor for the spiritual and physical negative effects that such archaic repression can have on an individual. The effects of stress can be dangerously detrimental, as can the effects of not allowing one to be oneself.

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Winston's varicose ulcer itches in a number of different circumstances. In Part One, Chapter One, for example, Winston's ulcer starts to itch "unbearably" as he stares blankly at his diary, wondering what to write. Similarly, in Part One, Chapter Seven, the ulcer itches when Winston is thinking about the freedom of the Proles, specifically, the sexual freedom that they possess.

What is really interesting about the ulcer is that, once Winston begins his sexual relationship with Julia, the ulcer not only stops itching, but it almost disappears completely, as we see in Part Two, Chapter Five:

His varicose ulcer had subsided, leaving only a brown stain on the skin above his ankle.

In other words, Winston's ulcer bothers him when he is repressed. This repression might be emotional, as we see with the diary incident, or it could be sexual. Once he starts his affair with Julia, the ulcer ceases to bother Winston, because he is able to express all of his pent-up emotions and feelings.

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Winston's varicose ulcer actually bothers him more than twice, but each time it does so coincides with him breaking away from the strict regimentation of Party life. The first time it begins itching "unbearably" in the novel, Winston is trying to think of what to write in his journal and coming up blank. The second time is when Winston wakes from his dream of the golden country and has to get up for his morning exercises. After the dream, he has a coughing fit, which causes his ulcer to start itching. The third time, Winston is trying once again to write in his journal when the ulcer starts up. The fourth time, it is "throbbing" because Winston has been walking around the streets of the city by himself. This is transgressive, as Party members are not supposed to do anything on their own. What Winston is doing is called "ownlife" and is considered eccentric. Further, Winston has been thinking about the past, the "half-forgotten" world of his childhood. Finally, after Winston has been tortured by O'Brien, the ulcer becomes "inflamed" again, although it doesn't particularly seem to bother him this time.

If we look at the instances that the ulcer itches or becomes inflamed before Winston's arrest, there is a pattern that it occurs at times Winston is either doing or thinking something that violates Party orthodoxy: writing in his journal, dreaming of the golden country, trying to remember his childhood, or tramping around the city on his own. There seems little doubt that the itching ulcer is triggered by the anxiety his actions cause him as he transgresses the unspoken rules he has internalized.

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