George Orwell in his dystopian novel 1984 manifestly reveals the oppressive nature of society and Winston’s attitude toward it. He uses both the setting of life and Winston’s general thoughts about that era as a tool to express the true nature of society and to show that it hasn’t always been that way and that it is not the natural order of things.
The society that Orwell describes in this passage is portrayed as a dark, crowded and gruesome place. He quotes, “A low ceilinged, crowded room, its walls grimy from the contract of innumerable bodies; battered metal tables and chairs, placed so close together that you sat with your elbows touching.” This domineering vision is made violently noticeable to anyone who sees it out of the norm, or to anyone who observes the novel through an elitist perspective. Accordingly, he defines the people of society to be inherently protestant and rebellious, which means that people in this society still have a moral objective and standard.
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He states, “In your skin, there was a sort of protest, a feeling that you had been cheated of something you had a right to.” Following the context clues from this quote, it is apparent that society in some sense is being oppressed from what is due, and that whoever is being deprived of what they feel they have a right to is on the verge of the “protest” spoken about earlier. This makes the society that Orwell speaks about very rigid and unstable at best. On another note, the passage indicates that fabulous statistics “continued to pour out of the telescreen”. Therefore, whoever the governing body has the incentive to persuade the people that life is comparatively better than it could otherwise be. Although this may seem like the nature of our real society today, it is still an obvious tactic to brainwash the people, essentially proving the repressive nature of society in a broader sense.
Winston’s general attitude toward society seems to be uncertain due to the fact that his being has been conformed to its society’s standards and “he had no memories of anything greatly different”. However, he had one inclination that made his opinion stand out, he quotes, “Was it not a sign that this was not the natural order of things…?” He understands that society had not always been such an oppressive state, and this made him ask the question, “Why should one feel it to be intolerable unless one had some kind of ancestral memory that things had once been different?” This passage alone allows the reader to understand that Winston has doubts and uncertainties about the social and political construct of society and that he knows that things have been different in the past. These clues not only build the character of Winston but prove that the nature of society could be approaching reform.
In conclusion, the nature of society is styled as a tyrannical and unjust system which has been likewise for a long time. People in this society know that they are being deprived of what they are due; Winston’s attitude serves as testimony to this. These context clues are what Orwell uses to reveal how society works, and how Winston feels about such a conformed system.
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