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Orwell incorporates symbolism to reinforce the novel’s multiple themes. Orwell wrote 1984 with the main aim of educating future generations about the risks of accepting a totalitarian state. The speaker uses strong metaphors to intensify the meaning of the thoughts when relaying the knowledge through various themes. Orwell uses icons such as doublethink and telescreens to provide a clear correlation to the themes. The novel’s theme of revolt is clear from the start. The statement demonstrates a tendency to still act in opposition to the governing power. Orwell uses Winston’s journal together with glass paperweight to help in enhancing the theme of rebellion.
There is a poster where a man is watching down over some words written, “Big Brother is watching you.” In this picture, the poster is used to symbolize the party in the face of the citizens. It brings assurance to the people from the warmth of its name, “Big Brother” and its ability to offer protection yet it seems to provide a significant threat especially with its gaze. The poster of big brother also portrays the manner in which the members of the upper ranks in the present themselves to the people. They seem to be caring yet they remain oppressive inside, thus making it difficult to understand them, their lifestyles and why they behave in that manner.

Winston bought a glass paperweight from a store in the prole district. The glass paperweight was used to symbolize Winston’s attempt to reconnect with the past. The ruling party had developed its version of propaganda which ensured people’s brains, eroding the memories and replacing them with their version of the truth. In this manner, the people find it hard to question the current actions of the party after accepting the talks of the party regarding the past. Winston fails to connect this kind of principle and gets the glass paperweight to help in reconnecting with the experience. Eventually, a thought of police arresting Winston finally comes and the paperweight falls on the floor. The paperweight was therefore used to symbolize the reconnection with the past. When paperweight shatters, it seems that his hope to make sense of the past also shatters. In this respect, it shows the party’s aim to control the thoughts of its citizens, and when a person is found thinking about anything that contradicts the ideas of the party, they are arrested and punished. Similarly, the dust also symbolizes Winston’s efforts to come to terms with the past and be rebellious towards the big brother.

The picture of St. Clément’s Church is another way the author uses symbolism in the novel. The image symbolizes the lost past. Winston tries to relate the picture with a song that ends with the words “Here approaches the chopper to chop off your head!” the picture symbolizes the Party’s cunning way of controlling history (Bloom). Also, Winston talks of meeting O’Brien in “a place where there is no darkness.” All these came to him in the form of a dream, and he contemplates in the entire story. Finally, he meets O’Brien in a situation which fully fits this description, the prison. Perhaps in the prison cell lights do not go off. The concept of “a place where there is no darkness,” symbolizes his approach to the future. He believes he will never succeed however much he tries to put his life together. He chooses to trust O’Brien, even though his inner senses reminds him that O’Brien could be just another party agent.

The telescreens are used to symbolize the rot of the party and how those in higher ranks misuse technology through the totalitarian government to control the citizens. Also, it symbolizes the constant surveillance of the party of its subjects. The telescreens are also used to signify the capability of the party to spread propaganda among the citizens and monitor them. The party is portrayed through the telescreens as an entity which abuses technology to work in their favor instead of using it to promote civilization.

The author also introduces the red-armed prole woman whom Winston listens to her singing through the window. The woman symbolizes a ray of hope in the life of Winston. The writer hopes that the woman will give birth to a generation that will realize the oppression the party has brought over them and rebel against the party for the prosperity of the entire society. The woman is used to symbolize hope in the community that is slowly losing its fabric as a result of an oppressive regime.

Doublethink is another concept brought in by the author to symbolize psychological control over the citizens. Orwell gives the different ministries in the government; however, the functions of the ministries contradict each other. A good example is the Ministry of peace which pushes for war, the department of love which works under the acts of violence and torture. The author adds that the party uses doublethink to make individuals believe that two plus two is not four but five (Bloom). Their thoughts have been arrested and forced to follow a specific pattern. Doublethink is therefore used to symbolize the nature of brainwashing that the party has undertaken upon its people to believe anything they are told, thus restricting them from exercising free thoughts.

The book also introduces Winston’s mother who only appears in his dreams and memories. The mother is used to symbolize the past before the party took over the totalitarian government. The mother symbolizes the better past days before the oppressive party came to power. However, as the book progresses, it emerges that the mother also symbolizes Winston’s extreme guilt. The mother is the epitome of a past covered by the acts and lies of the ruling party. The novel also introduces another person, Goldstein, whom there is no surety of his existence. Goldstein is used to symbolizing the enemy of the party. Whenever anything wrong happens to the party, all blame goes to Goldstein. In public, he is regarded as the enemy of the party, but the party is using him as a scapegoat. Using Goldstein as a scapegoat is part of a comprehensive scheme by the party to manipulate the thoughts of the citizens and ensure that they think in a particular pattern.

Orwell further talks about the memory holes which he briefly mentions in the novel. The party always insisted that any scraps of paper had to be tossed in the memory holes. The memory holes are linked to the furnace, implying that the party was interested in destroying all the memories among the citizens. The memory holes, therefore, symbolizes the destruction of the memories and replacing them with corrupt thoughts of the party. The papers to be tossed into the memory holes expresses the experiences of the past before the emergence of the party. The furnace is used to explain the complete destruction of the past.

The scarlet anti-sex waist sash worn by Julia is also used symbolically. Julia is a symbol of a person devoted to the party and its doctrines. She sleeps with almost every man; however, she wears the sash to hide her true actions of having sex all the time. Julia symbolizes the party which portrays a protectionist image in the eyes of the citizens, yet it continues to erode their minds with propaganda. The sash is, therefore, a contradiction of her true life. The sash also symbolizes her duality, the growth of perverseness and the desire to remain pure.

Finally, Winston has a journal where he writes his innermost convictions and feelings. The author hides the journal as it represents the ideas contrary to those of the ruling party. Winston knows very well that it is a crime to go against the ruling party, but the individual cares less about the same. In the journal, he writes things which make the reader believe that he understands the kind of the society where he lives. The journal is used to symbolize the pressure he has gone through in handling the party’s primary goal having the psychological and physical control of its citizens. The journal also signifies a rebellious person who has refused to be controlled by the ideologies of the ruling party which are full of propaganda and deceit. Orwell succeeds in his attempt to incorporate the themes of the book which correspond to the symbols.

Works Cited

Bloom, Harold, ed. George Orwell’s 1984. Infobase Publishing, 2009.

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