The Individual vs. Big Brother in 1984
“That is what has brought you here. You would not make the act of submission which is the price of sanity. You preferred to be a lunatic, a minority of one. Only the disciplined mind can see reality, Winston. […] Reality is not external. Reality exists in the human mind, and nowhere else. Not in the individual mind, which can make mistakes, and in any case soon perishes: only in the mind of the Party, which is collective and immortal. Whatever the Party holds to be the truth, is truth. It is impossible to see reality except by looking through the eyes of the Party.” This is how O’Brien, a high-ranking official of the world of Nineteen Eighty-Four, describes the worldview forced into the minds of its citizens. Demonstrated by Winston Smith’s nonconformist thinking, his unorthodox actions, and the deconstruction of his individuality, it is this world of O’Brien’s with which the concept of the individual is incompatible.
Eccentric thought is the beginning of the irreconcilable coexistence between the individual and the Party. As the novel unfolds, it is learned that Winston has been carrying these kinds of thoughts in his head for years. He could not hold them in any longer however, and perhaps as a subconscious act, had purchased a diary from a junk-shop on the free market. This was not illegal, as nothing truly was, but instinctively something to be reprimanded. Winston starts putting his thoughts to paper, out of reach from the snooping eye of the telescreens. It is this act which sets in motion the irreversible spiral into oblivion. The nature of this ac is explained this way after Winston had written a shocking sentence in his new diary:
Whether he wrote DOWN WITH BIG BROTHER, or whether he refrained from writing it, made no difference. Whether he went on with the diary, or whether he did not go on with it, made no difference. The Thought Police would get him just the same. He had committed -- would still have committed, even if he had never set pen to paper -- the essential crime that contained all others in itself. Thoughtcrime, they called it. Thoughtcrime was not a thing that could be concealed for ever. You might dodge successfully for a while, even for years, but sooner or later they were bound to get you.
Thus, the ultimate evil against the government had already been committed. The act of simply thinking in an unorthodox manner was irreparable and unquestionable, much like the rigid authority by which Oceania was governed. Therefore, Winston’s unique train of thought, the staple of individualism, was a direct confrontation with the Party’s doctrines.
If simply thinking in a non-conventional way is the crime, then unorthodox actions are the epidemy of anarchy. Winston’s first true act of unorthodoxy was the purchase and use of the diary. With this came the realization that he was now doomed, and that capture lied in the future “as surely as 99 precedes 100” . Regardless of what he did,...