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Conflict in 1984 George Orwell

Analyze how conflict has been represented through your prescribed text. Thesis:

In 1984, conflict is overwhelmingly pervasive. Unlike most narratives where conflict is a trigger or catalyst for an unfolding plot, conflict is the very essence of Orwell’s story. He asserts, that in the context of a dark political dystopia the real and abiding battle is between the totalitarian impulse to control and the freedom of individual expression and identity. The ultimate end in this society, which is well beyond redemption is a victory to the party and the total dehumanization of its subjects.

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A facet of the Party’s control in 1984 is the dissemination of fear and inferiority, ‘A world of fear and treachery and torment, a world of trampling and being trampled upon, a world which will grow not less but more merciless as it refines itself. Omnipresent surveillance and the Thought Police create a societal fear of unorthodoxy, a tool of the Party to keep them obliviously subdued. This conflicting fear is clearly revealed in Winston, who after buying a diary, carries it ‘guiltily home’, feeling that even with nothing written in it, it is a ‘compromising possession’. The consequences of being caught reinforce these fears, including draconian forms of punishment, then the eventual healing. ‘We do not merely destroy our enemies, we change them’. Other means include the war between the superstates.

Orwell represents this as an imposture, keeping the masses in perpetual fear. ‘In our own day, they are not fighting against one another at all. The war is waged by each ruling group against its own subjects, and the object of the war is to keep the structure of society intact. In context, the fear-driven state is inspired by Orwell’s views on Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union.

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Written in a time when most of Europe and South East Asia were devastated, totalitarian governments were rising and technology was advancing rapidly, Orwell takes the concept of oligarchical control to the extreme in 1984. In 1984, the Party’s doctrine includes no emotions except fear, rage, triumph, and self-abasement. The Party’s aim is to ‘eradicate the sex instinct’ and ‘abolish the orgasm’. The emotions of human love and affection are denied, and the repressed sexual desire is channelled into hatred.

During the Two Minutes Hate, Orwell shows this in Winston, transferring his ‘ecstasy of fear and vindictiveness’ into violent, vivid hallucinations of Julia: ‘he would flog her to death with a rubber truncheon’ and ‘ravish her and cut her throat at the moment of climax’. Orwell employs graphically brutal imagery to create discomfort in the reader, emphasizing the anomalousness of his dystopia. Accordingly, after Winston has sex with Julia, he feels their action was ‘a challenge to the Party; their union had been a declaration of rebellion.

Orwell makes it clear that Julia is the catalyst that swings Winston from inertia to action. Her code of ‘Only feelings matter’ is what pushes Winston to his first significant ‘political act’ in the war for human liberty. Orwell describes history as a ‘palimpsest, scraped clean and re-inscribed exactly as often as was necessary. In his fight for psychological freedom, Winston’s mind is a conflicted one. ‘Winston’s greatest pleasure in life was in his work’ (rewriting history) – yet he cherishes any remnant of the past, such as the coral paperweight ‘That’s what I like about it. It’s a little chunk of history that they’ve forgotten to alter. Orwell utilizes the paperweight as a physical representation of the irretrievable past.

When it is eventually smashed, Winston observes ‘how small it always was!’ symbolizing not only the feebleness of resistance but how easily it is quashed. The manipulation of history also means any heretical beliefs are unconfirmed, rendering arguments against the Party untenable. Orwell highlights this when Winston questions his own thoughts: ‘How could you establish even the most obvious fact when there existed no record outside your own memory?’ Furthermore, the emasculation of language to Newspeak makes all other modes of thought impossible.

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Accordingly, although it is evident that resistance exists, Orwell makes clear this society is past the tipping point and the possibility of the People overthrowing the Party has been ‘extinguished. Conflict is the backbone of 1984, its construction multi-faceted. The war between totalitarian control and freedom is represented through fear, human interaction, language and history. With the Party in control of them all, resistance is but a flicker opposed to the colossal blaze of power that is the Party. Dehumanization is inevitable.

3 sections:

1. Instillation of fear throughout society

2. Internal conflict and the denial of human love/affection – eschewal of sexuality

3. Manipulation of language, altering history, rewriting of cultural memory, unconfirmed beliefs (‘He was alone. The past was dead, the future was unimaginable. What certainty had he that a single human creature now living was on his side?’) – because only another train of thought is the party doctrine Composer, verb, optional adverb, metalanguage, examples, intended achieved effect, change syntax. The purpose of Newspeak was not only to provide a medium of expression for the world-view and mental habits proper to the devotees of Ingsoc but to make all other modes of thought impossible ‘Thoughtcrime does not entail death: thoughtcrime IS death’ ‘The empirical method of thought, on which all the scientific achievements of the past were founded, is opposed to the most fundamental principles of Ingsoc’ ‘The two aims of the Party are to conquer the whole surface of the earth and to extinguish once and for all the possibility of independent thought’. ‘But if thought corrupts language, language can also corrupt thought ‘It’s a beautiful thing the destruction of words’

‘Power is tearing human minds to pieces and putting them together again in shapes of your own choosing’

‘The party seeks power entirely for its own sake’

‘How does one man assert power over another? By making him suffer. Obedience is not enough. Unless he is suffering, how can you be sure he is obeying your will and not his own.’ ‘The thought of being a lunatic did not greatly trouble him; the horror was that he might also be wrong’ ‘The individual only has power in so far as he ceases to be an individual’ “There was a direct, intimate connection between chastity and political orthodoxy.

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For how could the fear, the hatred, and the lunatic credulity which the Party needed in its members be kept at the right pitch except by bottling down some powerful instinct and using it as a driving force? The sex impulse was dangerous to the Party, and the Party had turned it to account.” ‘Orthodoxy means not thinking-not needing to think. Orthodoxy is unconsciousness’ Appears rife with conflict, the ultimate aim of the party is the diminution of human liberty – it has no greater goal than its own power. The major underlying conflict between the Party and individuality and independent thought. Winston’s tries to find his psychological freedom

The first sign of conflict is when Winston writes in his diary Orwell had socialist tendencies – has sympathy

Party is dogmatic, ideology is rigid

Between individualism and collectivism,

Draconian form of punishment

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Conflict in 1984 George Orwell. (2021, Apr 10). Retrieved February 8, 2023, from