Symbolism in 1984 by George Orwell
Symbols are everywhere. Whether it’s the cross of Christianity, or the swastika of the Third Reich, symbols can convey messages of love, or hate, without ever having to say a word. While George Orwell in his masterpiece 1984 does, of course, use words to convey his themes, he also uses symbols. In the novel 1984, symbols are used as a way for Orwell to reinforce his three major themes.
One such example of this is the symbol of Julia’s scarlet Anti-Sex League sash. The league itself is vehemently opposed to any type of sexual act or expression, but the sash they use to represent themselves is worn in a very sexual manner, as described in the novel itself. “A narrow satin sash, emblem of the Junior Anti-Sex League, was wound several times round the waist of her overalls, just tightly enough to bring out the shapeliness of her hips” (Orwell 11-12). It draws attention to two very highly sexualized parts of the body, the breasts and the hips. This could be a reinforcement of the theme of “sexual freedom vs. political freedom.” The members of this league have, like all Party members, absolutely no political freedom, and as a consequence, also have no sexual freedom. The government, for whatever reasons, has decided to eliminate sex (or to at least make it an unenjoyable act). They feel that by denying their subjects this base human need, that they will be better able to control them as well. Fortunately though, they ultimately fail in this endeavor. People like Julia who are willing to accept a loss of their political freedom are not so willing to give up their sexual freedom as well. As Winston says, Julia “is only a rebel from the waist downwards” (Orwell 163). Even though Julia herself is caught by the Thought Police, one can almost assume that there are more people like her in Oceania, and that no matter how hard the Party tries, they will never truly be able to get rid of sexual acts or sexual expression.
Another major symbol in 1984 is dust. Dust is everywhere in Oceania. It is in Winston’s apartment, on the streets, and even in the creases of Mrs. Parson’s face. The dust, and the ruin it represents, symbolizes the level of the decay of the physical world prevalent in Oceania. It gives the impression that the quality of life in Oceania is constantly being made worse be the rules of the government. This reinforces the theme of “the destruction of the human spirit.” Orwell...