What are some of the conflicts that Winston Smith faces in Orwell's 1984? What is the lesson learned from all of what Winston went through?

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davmor1973 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Winston's most intense conflict is with himself. He desperately wants to rebel, but at the same time he's fearful, and with good reason. He starts a journal, a serious criminal offense in this totalitarian state, but as soon as he begins to write down seditious thoughts, he starts to panic, wanting to tear out the spoiled pages. Winston's internal conflict also relates to his main external conflict—that with Big Brother and the world that he represents. Winston remains defiant in his utter loathing of Big Brother, even after being brutally tortured by O'Brien. It takes the horrors of Room 101 to make him come round to the Party's way of thinking. But even then, we can't really say that Winston has resolved the conflict; rather the resolution, such as it is, has been brutally imposed upon him from without.

Much the same could be said concerning Winston's relationship with Julia. Again, he's carrying out an act of sedition here, but this time he's less tortured about defying the Party than when he started his journal. Nonetheless, Winston is acutely aware of the serious penalties to be paid for engaging in a loving, non-procreative sexual relationship. His resolution of this particular conflict is to betray Julia under interrogation. If Winston learns anything from his various conflicts, it's that the Party will always get you in the end and that there's no escape from its sinister, all-seeing gaze.

noahvox2 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In George Orwell's 1984, the main character, Winston Smith, experences a number of conflicts. His main conflicts involve controlling his thoughts and feelings. Smith's world of Oceania is controlled by the Party, which dictates what a person should believe, think, and feel.

Smith, however, has thoughts and feelings that rebel against the Party. He writes in a diary, which is a crime in his society. He has a secret sexual relationship with a woman, Julia, a relationship which goes against Party teachings. Smith eventually confesses his anti-Party sentiments to O'Brien, a confession that eventually leads to Smith being arrested and tortured.

After Smith's arrest, O'Brien has Smith tortured and then re-educated in the thought of the Party. During this process, Smith must learn to control his thoughts. He must learn to think only what the Party wants him to think. Ultimately, Smith will come to the point where he can acknowledge without doubt that "'two and two make five".

Orwell's novel closes with Smith's confession that "He had won the victory over himself. He loved Big Brother." Thus, at least on the surface, the lesson that Smith learns is to gain mastery over his own thoughts and feelings. Indeed, this is a lesson that many people still struggle to learn.

kmj23 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In 1984, Winston faces many conflicts. First of all, he faces the conflict between suppressing his true thoughts and emotions or writing them in his diary. This conflict is really created by his fear of getting caught by the Party, which would punish him severely for this form of self-expression.

Winston faces another conflict when he receives a note from Julia while he is at work. On one hand, he believes Julia to be a spy or member of the Thought Police, but on the other hand, he is intrigued by the idea of her love. Similarly, the invitation to go to O'Brien's apartment causes conflict because he is not yet certain that O'Brien is an ally.

Ultimately, all of Winston's experiences lead to his imprisonment in the Ministry of Love. Although he tries to resist O'Brien's brainwashing, he learns that resistance is futile. The Party is bigger and more powerful than any one man.

Another lesson that he learns is that he can overcome his own desires and emotions to become an obedient Party member. This is shown when Winston confesses that he feels love, and not hate, toward Big Brother.