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Sybolism In "1984" By George Orwell

1062 words - 4 pages

In 1984, Orwell makes excellent use of symbolism to further enhance the novel's theme and to reveal character. He wrote 1984 as a political message to warn future generations about the dangers of totalitarian societies. He relays this message through various themes and characters, in turn utilizes powerful symbols to give them further significance. His symbolism is very vast but it can be classified into three categories: characters, places and objects.

Orwell uses different historic figures to reveal characters in 1984. First, Orwell's character Winston Smith a hero, symbolizing the British statesman, Winston Churchill. Smith was name of common man in England. Presenting him as a commoner portrays this character both as common soul, and yet uncommon in many ways. Through Winston, Orwell highlights the controls imposed on individual freedom in totalitarian society. Second, Emmanuel Goldstein, the main enemy of Oceania, is a portrayed as a Jew:

"It was a lean Jewish face..."(p. 14)

Using Goldstein - a Jew - Orwell connects to other totalitarians, like Hitler, who had anti-Semitic ideas. They used Jews as scapegoat, i.e. according to them Jews were responsible for all evil. Similarly, in the novel, Goldstein is made a scapegoat, when a bomb goes off; the blame was on Goldstein's party. Third, Orwell's Big Brother symbolizes Joseph Stalin:

."..with heavy black moustache..."(p. 3).

Big Brother's party is symbolized as communist. The author warns about the dangers of totalitarian havocs and reminds the reader of the dark side of history. Interestingly, Orwell's character not only develops the theme, but also symbolizes places.

First, Orwell divides the imaginary superpowers that existed during the cold war, i.e. China and Russia at war - Eurasia symbolizes Russia and Eastasia symbolizes China. And Oceania symbolizes America. One can visualize this point when Winston reads from "the book":

"Eurasia comprises... Oceania comprises of the Americas...Eastasia...comprises China.... "(p. 193).

Second, the "Golden Country" represents the old European pastoral landscape - before Big Brother came to power. It's the place where Winston and Julia first meet, and it's this place that Winston sees in his dreams. Winston foresees peaceful and truly free atmosphere. When he comes to this place he remembers the past, that's the freedom he enjoyed in those days. The reader would consider it as a beautiful landscape, but for Winston, a person who had lived free and now in a totalitarian society, it's not just beautiful, but also free place. Third, Orwell uses O'Brien's apartment symbolize to as a place with freedom, like a heaven. When Julia and Winston, visit O'Brien, to join the Brotherhood, to their surprise O'Brien turns off the telescreen. Winston senses that the place has complete freedom. Then they were offered real wine. For Winston it's a heaven, where he feels free to say anything as well gets real wine for first time in life....

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