What is the significance of Comrade Ogilvy in Orwell's 1984?

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Michael Otis | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Assistant Educator

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Winston Smith's work at the Ministry of Truth is to rectify or update  the historical record so that it corresponds with previously published newspaper articles. A case in point is Comrade Ogilvy. He is entirely Winston's creation, invented to replace Comrade Withers, an Inner Party member whom Big Brother had awarded with the Order of Conspicuous Merit, Second Class, but who has since fallen into disgrace and been vaporized. Rather than complicate Big Brother's panegyric, Winston decides to lift Withers clean out of history and replace him with a fictitious character, Ogilvy. For this reason he is a flawless patriot and Party member whose 'only goals in life were the defeat of Eurasia, and the hunting down of enemy spies, saboteurs, thoughtcriminals, and traitors'. In fact, Ogilvy, who did not exist in the past, but is called into existence in the present, can be considered a caricature of the world of Big Brother. And herein lies the significance of Comrade Ogilvy. His world, where a man can disappear from history, but a fictional character can appear in history at the stroke of a pen (or Winston's speakwrite!), is above all else stamped with arbitrariness. In this world, reality is no longer written about. Rather, it is the written record - at the behest of the Party - which creates reality.   

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