When O'Brien says 'You have failed in humility and self discipline,' he is correct. Winston Smith causes his own suffering. Do you agree?Please help! I'm so clueless about this essay topic! What do...

When O'Brien says 'You have failed in humility and self discipline,' he is correct. Winston Smith causes his own suffering. Do you agree?

Please help! I'm so clueless about this essay topic!
What do you suggest how I should go about this question?!
Please explain!

Expert Answers
pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

First of all, I would ask if Winston has caused his own suffering.  I would say that you can look at this in one of two ways:

  • Yes -- it is his fault.  No one forced him to go against the rules of his society.
  • No -- it is the fault of society.  Society's rules are horrible and people should go against them.  Blaming Winston is like blaming a woman whose husband beats her -- it's like saying she caused it because she didn't have the house clean enough.  It's not really her fault; it's his fault for being so demanding and for being violent when he doesn't get his way.

Then I would ask myself if lack of humility and self discipline are what have brought Winston to this point.

  • If you go by the rules of the Party, yes.  He was not humble -- he put himself above the rules.  He was not disciplined -- he couldn't put his own desires to one side for the good of the society.
  • If you go by regular rules, no.  Nothing wrong with trying to be a human being.

So, overall, I'd look at it like this -- I'd say there is a difference between how the Party would see his crimes and how an outsider would.  By Party rules, O'Brien is right.  By our view from a normal society, O'Brien is not.

I hope that helps...