Orwell named his hero after Winston Churchill, England’s greatleader during World War II. He added the world’s commonest last name: Smith. The ailing, middle-aged rebel can be considered in many different lights. -1. You’ll have to decide for yourself whether Winston is a hero in his secret battle with Big Brother, or whether he’s only a sentimentalman with a death wish, who courts his death openly through anillegal love affair and through his alliance with the enemies of Big Brother. a.
If Winston is a 20th-century hero, it seems logical for him tokeep a diary even though he knows it will hang him. It is right forhim to follow his heart and have an affair with Julia. He is doing theonly possible thing by seeking out O’Brien and joining theBrotherhood, which is committed to overthrowing Big Brother. Naturallyhe will defy authorities even after he is captured and tortured,trying to keep one last shred of personality intact. b.
If he’s so heroic, why is he so foolhardy? It makes no sensefor him to create a permanent love-nest when he knows it will speedhis capture. “It was as though they were intentionally stepping nearerto their graves,” he thinks. A careful man would never open up toO’Brien without knowing whether he is to be trusted. You can arguethat Winston’s continuing defiance of the Party after his capture is one more way of courting disaster. Do you think Winston secretlyenjoys torture? Although he confesses to everything they want himto, he extends the torture by continuing his inner defiance- somethingthe Party seems to know. Winston’s thoughts in Part Two, Section IV, point to this interpretation.
-2. You can learn more about Winston by considering his view of sex as a means of rebellion. He’s divorced because his wife couldn’tproduce the baby the Party expects, and wouldn’t consider sex forany other purpose because desire is Thoughtcrime. He is drawn to Juliabecause she is “corrupt,” which means she enjoys sex and haspreviously taken several lovers.
Knowing he will be punished, he fallsin love with her. Winston’s ideal partner for the future is not Julia,but the mountainous prole woman who hangs out the laundry for her many children. Another of Winston’s ideal women, whom Winston writes about in his diary, is the refugee mother protecting her child withher own body. Orwell may be arguing that woman-as-mother is to behonored, but any other kind of love is to be punished. -3.
Is the real love affair in Winston’s mind, and is it with O’Brien? O’Brien is on Winston’s mind in Part One, Section I. Winston dreams about him in One, Section II, when O’Brien says, “Weshall meet in the place where there is no darkness. ” In Three, I, thisdream is fulfilled in an astonishing way. Does O’Brien stand forhope or for the fulfillment of Winston’s death wish? Does he seekhim out precisely to bring about his capture? Look at Part Three,Sections I, II, III and IV, where Winston is captured and brainwashed. He doesn’t hate or resist O’Brien.
Instead the two minds are locked ina bizarre courtship. Winston respects his destroyer as he never respects Julia. -4. Winston’s ideas about class lines tell us something about hisvalues, and Orwell’s. a.
Winston despises his middle-class neighbors, the Parsons. Hebitterly resents and envies the lower classes because they are vital, physical and mindlessly happy. They are also slightly grossto him- particularly the huge woman with the laundry. He sees theunderclass as the hope for the future, yet recognizes that they have neither the brains nor the means to start a revolution. What’s more, he doesn’t like them well enough to join them, or even enough todisappear among them. Why doesn’t he run away to the ghetto? BECAUSE HE IS NOT LIKE THEM.
b. O’Brien is his ideal, even after O’Brien starts brainwashingWinston. O’Brien is a member of the Inner Party, polished andsophisticated, and so high up in the organization that he enjoys ahandsome, comfortable apartment and a servant. Does