What is the tension between outward and inward conformity in 1984?  

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Thanh Munoz eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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In the dystopia of 1984, everyone outwardly conforms or at least attempts to. If they fail to do so, they're arrested and killed or brainwashed, as Winston is. But what does inward conformity represent in a society like this? Presumably, it would mean actually agreeing with and accepting everything the Party dictates. Orwell has, I think, deliberately left it an unanswered question as to whether anyone in 1984 actually does this.

The most obviously conformist persons in Winston's circle are two men who appear to be opposites: Syme and Parsons. They are also the ones Winston is certain are inwardly conformist. Syme is a brilliant man, an intellectual of the Party who, Winston believes, really does hate "heretics" and genuinely believes in rigid Party doctrine.

Parsons is a man whom Winston imagines Syme thinks of as a "bloody fool," just from the tone in which Syme says, "Here comes Parsons." Parsons, presumably as unintelligent as one can be, also seems an unquestioning follower of the Party....

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