In 1984, what values of society are revealed through Winston Smith's alienation?

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Winston Smith 's alienation occurs as a result of the overwhelming control of the party. To truly connect to other human beings, it is necessary both to have some sense of self and for the person you're interacting with to have the same, because personal connection comes, in part, as...

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Winston Smith's alienation occurs as a result of the overwhelming control of the party. To truly connect to other human beings, it is necessary both to have some sense of self and for the person you're interacting with to have the same, because personal connection comes, in part, as we reveal these selves to each other, and while they grow and change through a relationship. In the world under Big Brother, everyone must portray themselves as the people they are expected to be, and discovery of self is explicitly discouraged in order to create people who are identical and controllable, so no one has any sense of self to reveal and, even if they did, they would be punished if they let it slip. This means that human interaction never creates real connection, and this is incredibly alienating.

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As someone with a strong streak of independence, Winston Smith is inevitably alienated from the totalitarian society in which he lives. For this is a society in which everyone's expected to act, dress, and even think the same way. The merest hint of individuality in Oceania is to be ruthlessly stamped out by the Party. For someone like Winston, this is a difficult situation to be in. He must show outward conformity to the Party's dictates while, at the same time, retain his individuality.

Winston further alienates himself from society by engaging in a clandestine relationship with Julia. Sex is strongly discouraged in Oceania; Julia is herself a member of the Party's Anti-Sex League. If sex is to take place at all, it must only be for the purposes of procreation. Winston's love for Julia is also strictly forbidden. There must be no love in Oceania; not even between family members. If people love each other, that means their primary object of affection isn't Big Brother, which simply can't be tolerated.

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Winston Smith is alienated by his society because of its emphasis on conformity and obedience. He also is alienated by the ugliness all around him: the smell of cabbage in his apartment building, the rubble that is most of London, the tattered posters of Big Brother, the ill-tasting Victory gin in his flat. He craves beauty, which leads him to buy the diary with the faded, creamy pages and the paperweight with the bit of coral inside.

Winston also deeply objects to the lies and irrationality of his society. Because of the work he does altering newspaper articles, he knows that the Party is always changing the truth. He also can remember back to a time before the Party took over and knows, for instance, that the Party did not invent airplanes, as they claim. It bothers him, too, that although the enemy keeps changing, the state claims it has "always" been at war with the current antagonist.

Winston is lonely: his society keeps people apart from each other in any way it can, as it doesn't want people forming intimacies.

Winston's alienation shows how dehumanizing life is in Oceania. People have little enjoyment and are not allowed to think for themselves. As said earlier, this society values obedience and conformity above all else.

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The rejection of Winston's personal values might lend great insight into what society values.  For example, Winston is very passionate and authentic about his beliefs.  Keeping his diary, articulating his dislike of his coworkers, and even his relationship with Julia are all examples of his pure desire to rebel against The Party and the government control of Big Brother.  While he is passionate about this dissent, it reflect a social value of ascent and total conformity.  At the same time, when he is captured and is forced to confess and recant regarding his relationship with Julia, there is a genuine sense of torment about it.  This reflects how social control supersedes all, a value that Winston does not share.  Winston's alienation is the result of believing and sharing a consciousness that is diametrically opposed to what society believes.  In identifying his beliefs, we can understand what society rejects, and in seeing what Winston disdains, we can see what society upholds.

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