What does Winston's dream about the dark-haired girl signify in 1984?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

The dream of the dark-haired girl in the Golden Country who rips off her clothes with a defiant gesture represents for Winston his desire to defiantly rip away his own pretense of conformity to the Party. He feels no sexual desire for the woman in the dream. Instead, he experiences intense pleasure at her gesture in becoming naked:

With its grace and carelessness it seemed to annihilate a whole culture, a whole system of thought, as though Big Brother and the Party and the Thought Police could all be swept into nothingness by a single splendid movement of the arm.

As we know, Winston wants very much to rebel against the system that oppresses him. He has started the process through buying the diary and actually writing in it, an act he knows will probably lead to the death penalty. The dream of the woman is a continuation of his thought crimes.

Interestingly, too, the dream very closely mirrors reality when he secretly meets with Julia for the first time out in nature after they both listen spellbound to the song of a thrush:

And, yes! it was almost as in his dream. Almost as swiftly as he had imagined it, she had torn her clothes off, and when she flung them aside it was with that same magnificent gesture by which a whole civilization seemed to be annihilated.

It is no wonder that Winston falls in love with this woman. She is almost literally his dream come true.

Approved by eNotes Editorial
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

This dream represents Winston's longing for a better world, a world without the Party and its absolute rule and suppression of individuality and natural instincts.The girl with dark hair, Julia, appears in the dream as Winston is secretly attracted to her. The way in which she sweeps aside her clothes not only testifies to Winston's desire for her but also appears as a gesture of defiance and rebellion and this is indeed the kind of character that she turns out to be in real life. 'Ancient time' refers to the time before the Party and all its ruthless institutions were formed.

Posted on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

In 1984, what does Winston's dream of the girl with dark hair symbolize?

I assume you are referring to the dream that Winston has at the beginning of Chapter 3 in this terrifying dystopian novel. What is important to realise is that this dream of Julia, the girl he has noticed and feels sexually attracted to, comes after a dream of his mother and sister just before it. The remembrance of his mother and sister has a profound impact on Winston because through it he realises that:

Tragedy, he perceived, belonged to the ancient time, to a time when there was still privacy, love, and friendship, and when the members of a family stood by one another without needing to know the reason.

However, today, Winston reflects, such tragedy or emotions would be impossible:

Such things, he saw, could not happen today. Today there were fear, hatred, and pain, but no dignity of emotion, no deep or complex sorrows.

Of course, we need to understand that in a sense, Winston is able to live the kind of life he wants to in his dreams, for such a life would be impossible in the world of Big Brother. It is then that he has his dream of Julia, which is profoundly sexual:

With what seemed a single movement she tore off her clothes and flung them disdainfully aside... What overwhelmed him in that instant was admiration for the gesture with which she had thrown her clothes aside. With its grace and carelessness it seemed to annihilate a whole culture, a whole system of thought, as though Big Brother and the Party and the Thought Police could all be swept into nothingness by a single movement of the arm.

What this dream celebrates and represents is Winston's desire to live life richly and in such a way that would eradicate the barriers and impediments that control and prevent such passion and humanness being expressed. The dream recognises the sheer power of humanity which of course the Party is implacably opposed to. What of course happens in the novel is that Winston acts on this desire to "live" in spite of the danger.

See eNotes Ad-Free

Start your 48-hour free trial to get access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

Get 48 Hours Free Access
Last Updated on