Identity In 1984 Essay

3020 words - 12 pages

Identity, in today’s society, is often taken for granted. We have the ability to be anything we wish to be and act in any way we wish to act, but in the novel 1984 by George Orwell, identity is not taken for granted because it does not exist at all. Winston Smith, the narrator, lives in a dystopian society based on the idea of totalitarian government rule. This government is known as Big Brother. In order for Big Brother to stay in power, a few things are necessary: identity cannot exist; everything and everyone must be uniform; the past must be controlled in order to regulate the present; and the people must constantly be practicing the ideas of Newspeak and Doublethink, a form of control the government holds over the people. By enforcing these simple laws and regulations, the government is able to keep a tight grip on its people, with few ever releasing themselves from its grasp. Winston Smith on the other hand, seeks to know the truth behind the government, he is constantly questioning everything and repressing all the ideas forced upon him. Winston “seeks truth and sanity, his only resources being the long denied and repressed processes of selfhood” (Feder 398). All identity is gone in this place called Oceania, and for the sake of Big Brother and its continuous control of the people, it will never exist again. In 1984, the absence of identity strips the people of all creativity and diversity, as well as takes away any chance the society has to advance as a people or in the area of technology.
Oceania lacks any form of diversity whatsoever; the citizens all live in the same dingy buildings, wear the same plain clothes, eat the same terrible food, and are constantly monitored by the government via the telescreens found in every room. Of course, for most of the brainwashed citizens, this is completely fine. Big Brother’s outward plan is to create a community where all people are considered equal individuals, when in truth, all they want is to strip away people’s identities and have power over a group of empty, emotionless humans. The government uses “the age-old ideal of human equality . . . under the guise of complete uniformity of opinion on all subjects. The three hundred million people all with the same face who live there are little more than each other’s clones” (Grossman 53). Winston, who seems to realize this plan from the beginning, hates Big Brother. In an illegal diary he writes: “DOWN WITH BIG BROTHER, DOWN WITH BIG BROTHER” (Orwell 18). In this society, diaries are illegal because they promote free thoughts and ideas, something that could make a person unique and possibly lead to rebellion. To keep citizens in their rightful place and away from free thought, they are constantly working, attending Hate Week rallies or doing various other activities for the government. Another way identity has been stripped from the people of Oceania is through the banning of pleasurable things. Sugar, chocolate, books, wine and music (unless...

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