How Does Symbolism Contribute To The Themes Of 1984?

1040 words - 4 pages

The ability to interpret symbolism has always been essential for a full understanding of George Orwell’s works of literature, and this is certainly true of 1984, which is a novel written as a political message to warn future generations about the dangers of totalitarian societies. Orwell directly conveys the message through various themes, and uses powerful symbols to give these themes greater significance. A number of small symbols throughout the novel have large importance to the main ideas. The paperweight assists the portrayal of Winston’s desire to remember the true past, Newspeak further enhances the theme of language and its role in the Party’s control over its population, and telescreens provide a direct connection to the theme of psychological and physical control by the Party. Although these symbols seem unrelated, they are closely connected with each other, representing the totalitarianism that conflicts with personal freedom.The paperweight symbolizes Winston’s desire to remember the past and his will to love freely out of the grasp of the Party, thus enhancing the theme of the Party’s control of information and history. Winston buys a paperweight in an antique store in the proletarian district. Orwell writes: “It is a little chunk of history that they have forgotten to alter.” This quote implies that the paperweight represents Winston’s desire to make a connection with past, not the Party’s version of the truth that has replaced individuals’ memories. Orwell incorporates this symbol as an object of the past that excites Winston’s feelings. “The paperweight was the room he was in, and the coral was Julia’s life and his own, fixed in a sort of eternity at the hart of the crystal.” This is when the secondary symbol of the paperweight, which is the relationship between Winston and Julia, is introduced. However, the fact that the paperweight is made out of glass reflects the fragility of Winston’s ambitions and his relationship with Julia, foreshadowing destruction. This becomes a reality when both Julia and Winston betray each other once they are captured by the Thought Police. When the Thought Police eventually arrest Winston, the paperweight shatters on the floor. “Someone had picked up the glass paperweight from the table and smashed it to pieces on the heath stone. The fragment of coral, a tiny crinkle of pink like a sugar rosebud from a cake, rolled across the mat. How small, thought Winston, how small it always was!” (223) This quote is significant to the novel as a whole, for it represents the end of Winston’s attempt to remember the past, and more importantly, the end of his relationship with Julia. Moreover, the shattering of the paperweight is a representation of the destruction of Winston and Julia’s uniqueness in thinking different from everyone else. Therefore, the symbol conveys the theme of indestructible totalitarianism.Newspeak...

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