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Love in George Orwell’s “1984”

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George Orwell, in his novel, 1984, has created a bleak totalitarian society in which The Party has become all powerful and their goal is to control all thoughts, all actions and to suppress all individuality. Love of family, romantic love and sexual love are all key to a person’s individuality and are, therefore, completely forbidden within Orwell’s fictional society. The tensions that this creates amongst the main characters in 1984, as the state believes that love of Big Brother is the only acceptable love, is symbolic of the struggle to survive as human beings in this totalitarian state. Winston Smith, the protagonist is this story, spends much of his life thinking about what is lost and trying to find love. He knows that the Party’s goal is that he and all of the citizens of Oceania care only for the State. He is told, “Never again will you be capable of human feeling. Everything will be dead inside you. Never again will you be capable of love, or friendship, or joy of living or laughter, or curiosity or courage, or integrity. You will be hollow. We shall squeeze you empty and then we shall fill you with ourselves” (Orwell 256).

The Party systematically undermines and does away with every form of love in their society beginning with the love and bonds of family. They have instituted a group named the Junior Spies which persuades children to spy on their parents and seek out signs of unorthodox behavior or activities that they could report to the thought police. “It was almost normal for people over thirty to be frightened of their own children. And with good reason, for hardly a week passed in which the Times did not carry a paragraph describing how some eavesdropping little sneak – “child hero” – was the phrase generally used – had overheard some compromising remark and denounced his parents to the Thought Police” (Orwell 24) The parents learned to value this behavior as when Mr. Parsons is arrested, turned in by his daughter. He tells Winston, “Pretty smart for a nipper of seven, eh? I don’t bear her any grudge for it. In fact I’m proud of her. It shows I brought her up in the right spirit” (Orwell 233).

Winston, in his search for his own humanity, sees and understands this but, in his mind, compares it to the faint memories that he still has of his mother and sister. He recalls how, while in hiding, his mother gives away most of the chocolate that she finds to her two children even though she, herself, is starving. He also knows that his mother and sister, in some way, died so he could live, in an act of loyalty that was no longer possible. He remembered a time “when there were still privacy, love and friendship, and when the members of a family stood by one another without needing to know the reason” (Orwell 30). Although Winston still has faint memories of a time when family love and loyalty were important we see through his eyes how the bonds between parents and children have been completely severed.

Just as the Party has affected love between parents and children they have also poisoned the relationships between men and women. They created Junior Spies to undermine the relationship between children and their parents and they created the Junior Anti-Sex League as a propaganda organization used to teach sexual orthodoxy and control desire. Sex is only allowed for conceiving children and sex for any other reason is considered a crime punishable by death. If the Party could do away with sex and family all together they would do it in order to eliminate the risk of attachments other than those to Big Brother but, of course, they need more loyal and faithful party members. Winston’s own marriage was terrible for him because there was no pleasure in the relationship, only his wife, Katherine, “doing her duty for the party.” When Winston begins his affair with Julia she explains how the Party has manipulated sex to their own ends. “It was not merely that the sex instinct created a world of its own which was outside the Party’s control and which therefore had to be destroyed if possible. What was more important was that sexual privation induced hysteria, which was desirable because it could be transformed into war fever and leader worship” (Orwell 133).

As Winston’s relationship with Julia deepens he becomes more and more in touch with his own humanity and his own individuality. His affair is both an emotional and a political act because the more he loves Julia the more he hates Big Brother. Once they are both captured, tortured and give each other up we see that they have also lost their sense of self. When they meet they have nothing to say to each other and there love for each other has been totally destroyed by their betrayals. At the very end of the novel Winston is left a broken man and has learned to love Big Brother.

In addition to dehumanizing and attempting to do away with all loving relationships as a way to assure party loyalty, the Party also manipulates the language of love to their own ends. The Ministry of Love is actually a place of brutal torture and the destruction of individuality is called “love for Big Brother.”Throughout 1984 love is shown to be the antithesis of all that the Party stands for and hopes to accomplish. All that they do and all that they believe in is designed to undermine all types of love, affection and individuality. They say, “We have cut the links between child and parent and between man and man, and between man and women. No one dares trust a wife or a child or a friend any longer” (Orwell 267). We know that values like love, loyalty, and integrity are what make us human beings. George Orwell has shown how in the absence of these values people all become in human.

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