Discussion Topic

Imagery in George Orwell's 1984

Summary:

In 1984, George Orwell uses vivid imagery to depict a dystopian society. Descriptions of the oppressive, decaying cityscape and the ever-watchful presence of Big Brother create a sense of fear and control. The stark, bleak imagery of the Ministry of Love, with its harsh lights and sterile environment, further emphasizes the regime's brutal nature and the loss of individuality.

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What imagery is depicted in part 1, chapter 1, and part 2, chapter 2 of 1984?

Much of the imagery in part 1, chapter 1, helps to establish the ominous tone of the story and the threatening setting Winston Smith inhabits. From the opening sentence, both are fairly bleak:

It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen. Winston Smith, his chin nuzzled into his breast in an effort to escape the vile wind, slipped quickly through the glass doors of Victory Mansions, though not quickly enough to prevent a swirl of gritty dust from entering along with him.

The bright day is contrasted by the reality of the cold. Winston is trying to "escape" a "vile" wind and the clocks strike the ominous number thirteen (also heightening the alien-but-familiar nature of the story—as a normal analogue clock only has twelve hours). The imagery here allows the reader to immediately be swept into Winston's cold, unwelcoming world that is not too unlike their own.

Later in this same chapter, the reader is able to ascertain the total control of Winston's government from a description of his home:

By sitting in the alcove, and keeping well back, Winston was able to remain outside the range of the telescreen, so far as sight went. He could be heard, of course, but so long as he stayed in his present position he could not be seen.

This imagery allows the reader to conceptualize the far-reaching influence of the oppressive state into the private lives of citizens—monitoring their daily actions through the telescreen.

In part 2, chapter 2, Winston has been captured, and the imagery once again returns to show the now more threatening setting he finds himself in:

He was lying on something that felt like a camp bed, except that it was higher off the ground and that he was fixed down in some way so that he could not move.

Winston suffers more beatings than he can count, and the imagery is descriptive of his suffering as well as the moments in between them:

He remembered a surly barber arriving to scrape his chin and crop his hair, and businesslike, unsympathetic men in white coats feeling his pulse, tapping his reflexes, turning up his eyelids, running harsh fingers over him in search of broken bones, and shooting needles into his arm to make him sleep.

Even the conversations are vivid in imagery:

"You are afraid," said O'Brien, watching his face, "that in another moment something is going to break. Your especial fear is that it will be our backbone. You have a vivid mental picture of the vertebrae snapping apart and the spinal fluid dripping out of them. That is what you are thinking, is it not, Winston?"

The imagery is menacing in both sections of text—and throughout the book, for that matter. Orwell crafts language around the experiences of Winston Smith that use various sensory assaults to shock the reader to contemplate the idea of governments that gain to much influence and exert too much control over their populations.

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What imagery is depicted in part 1, chapter 1, and part 2, chapter 2 of 1984?

In both of these chapters, Orwell uses a wide range of sensory images to bring to life the experiences of the protagonist, Winston Smith. In Part One, Chapter One, Orwell opens the story with a tactile image of a "vile wind" which bites at Winston's neck. He also employs a gustatory image to describe the setting, Victory Mansions:

The hallway smelt of boiled cabbage and old rag mats.

In Part Two, Chapter Two, Orwell continues with the creation of vivid, sensory images to depict Winston and Julia's first meeting in the woods. There are a number of tactile images, including:

The mass of dark hair was against his face. . . he was kissing the wide red mouth.

These are followed by a strong gustatory image to depict the sensation of eating the black-market chocolate Julia brings with her:

The first fragment of chocolate had melted on Winston’s tongue. The taste was delightful.

Finally, Orwell closes this chapter with a visual image of Winston studying Julia as she sleeps:

There was a line or two round the eyes, if you looked closely. The short dark hair was extraordinarily thick and soft.

This visual image leads Winston to his important conclusion: having sex with Julia is a "political act" which represents the beginning of his rebellion against the Party.

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What imagery is depicted in the beginning of Part 2, Chapter 2 of 1984?

Orwell uses different types of imagery in Part Two, Chapter Two of 1984. In the opening paragraph, for example, Orwell creates an auditory image of doves "droning" in the background and, later, of a person stepping on a twig, which makes a "crackling" sound. He also evokes the "sickly" smell of bluebells, which is an example of olfactory imagery.

Orwell uses visual imagery, too. Firstly, there is the image of the "overflowing" carriage, which he uses to travel to this clearing in the woods. Later, there is an image of Winston holding a large bunch of bluebells, which he has picked for Julia.

The purpose of this imagery is to create a stark contrast between this clearing in the woods and the city. For Winston, the woods are reminiscent of the past, of a time before the Party came to power, and of his hopes for the future. The city, in contrast, represents the brutal and oppressive regime of the Party.

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What imagery is depicted in the beginning of Part 2, Chapter 2 of 1984?

1984 Part 2, chapter 2 is filled with nature imagery, connoting a "Garden of Eden" rendezvous between Winston and Julia in the Golden Country.

Colors dominate the landscape: "dappled light and shade, stepping out into pools of gold"; "misty with bluebells"--all of which symbolize Spring, freedom, re-birth, and love.

It is May, and the smells of flowering buds fill the air: "He had got together a big bunch and was smelling their faint sickly scent"; "Winston followed, still clasping his bunch of flowers. His first feeling was relief..."; "The sweetness of the air and the greenness of the leaves daunted him."

Winston is a bit paranoid still, as he is escaping the watchful eye of Big Brother and traveling secretly to the country.  Sound imagery is also prevalent: "the unmistakable crackle of a foot on twigs"; "She shook her head, evidently as a warning that he must keep silent."

The scene is reminiscent of Adam and Eve about to partake of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil for the first time.  They are about to have carnal relations away from God's watchful eye.  They sense their impending fall and shame, yet they are excited by the rebellion nonetheless.

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In George Orwell's 1984, what imagery is depicted in the first chapter?

George Orwell’s 1984 begins with poignant imagery.

“It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen.”

Anyone familiar with Britain’s unpredictable weather can relate to the first part of the sentence. In this way, Orwell sets up a familiar world only to have it come crashing down words later. In reality, clocks do not strike thirteen times to announce 1:00PM. By using the number thirteen, Orwell is telling the reader that something is terribly off about the London which Winston Smith inhabits.

For British readers who picked up 1984 the year of its publication, 1948, they saw more reflections of their present as Winston enters his shabby apartment building, “The hallway smelt of boiled cabbage and old rag mats.” London, along with all of Britain in 1948, was still recovering from the Second World War. The boiled cabbage alludes to the rationing that lasted for years after the war’s end. As Winston looks out his window, Orwell makes sure to mention other sights that wartime Londoners knew all too well: craters pockmarking the city and decaying Victorian buildings.

Taken as a whole, the imagery in 1984’s first chapter makes the novel’s dystopia realistic because it is a reflection of living conditions present in Britain during the immediate post-war era.

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